State of the Arts

NKU School of the Arts - May 3, 2021

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Congratulations, Alyssa Wray

Despite continued rave reviews from judges and another incredible performance, Musical Theatre Performance Major Alyssa Wray was eliminated from American Idol by viewers' votes at the end of Sunday's live show. Wray was among three singers sent home as the competition was reduced to seven.

Congratulations on your incredible journey, Alyssa! Everyone at SOTA is very proud of you!

A message from the SOTA Director

The past year has been incredibly difficult for each one of us. Each one of us at NKU – faculty, staff, and students, each one of us across the country, and each one of us across the world. The global pandemic has shown us again, in brutal terms, that we are all connected. Our actions affect our families, our community, and even strangers across the planet. While the pandemic has shown the negative effects of this connection, it also reminds us that we can have a positive impact that spreads across our community and the globe. Our amazing faculty and staff have worked every day to connect students to curriculum, to ideas, and to each other -- guiding our students through Zoom, virtual experiences, videos, and all manner of internet connections. Each and every one of our faculty and staff deserves to be highlighted for their efforts over the past three semesters. They have delivered course content in new and surprising ways, shifted from the stage to video, and performed together as little boxes on the screen. While it wasn’t the same as being in person, they all found ways to do what the visual and performing arts do best: connect. Despite the extreme difficulties, I have never been more proud to be a part of the School of the Arts and never been more certain that the arts are more relevant than ever. I can’t wait to welcome everyone back in person in the Fall and to see you in the audience as we cheer our students and faculty back on stage and back on the gallery walls!

Matthew Albritton, SOTA Director


Steven Finke

Congratulations to Steven Finke (Visual Arts) on his upcoming retirement, providing 33 years of service to students and NKU. Steven started NKU as an adjunct in 1988, his role as a tenure track faculty in sculpture began in 1993. He transformed the sculpture area into an active studio that enabled students to work with a variety of materials and tools.

Through Steven's dedication over the last three decades, students have benefited from his ability to teach ideas and craft in sculpture. His influence helped countless students gain the confidence to use tools, create meaningful artworks and to think beyond their first ideas.

Steven's own sculptural practice engages with concepts on "mortality” and much of his work is intended to provide viewers to “reflect on impermanence and solitary-ness.” His work has been exhibited extensively at the local, regional, and national level at such venues as C.A.G.E.; Toni Birckhead Gallery; SSNOVA (all Cincinnati, OH); Northern Kentucky University Art Gallery (Highland Heights, KY); Carnegie Arts Center (Covington, KY); Riffe Gallery (Columbus, OH); Southern Ohio Museum (Portsmouth, OH); Akron Art Museum (Akron, OH); Dayton Art Institute (Dayton, OH); SPACES (Cleveland, OH); Huntington Museum of Art (Huntington, WV); and Ruby Green Contemporary Art Center (Nashville, TN). He is the recipient of two Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowships (1984, 1996) and a Major Artist Fellowship (1988). In 2001, he was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship from Summerfair, Inc. His artwork is represented in private, corporate, and museum collections.

Lisa Jameson

Congratulations to Lisa Jameson (Visual Arts) on her upcoming retirement, having served 25 years to our students and campus. Lisa has been the coordinator of the art education program, empowering future art educators since 1996. She works regularly with area P-12 teachers, museum educators and local schools on collaborative projects involving university students. In addition, Lisa served as program head for Visual Arts from 2018-2020.

Lisa has received multiple awards for her teaching and art practice including Kentucky Art Educator of the Year Award, several Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Grants and Higher Education Art Teacher of the Year.

Lisa is a past president of the Kentucky Art Education Association, which provides professional development opportunities for art educators at all levels. Furthermore, Lisa is a visual artist with an MFA in Drawing and MA in art education with teacher certification from the University of Cincinnati and a BFA from Webster College. Her work utilizes figurative, landscape and abstract imagery. As stated by the Weston Art Gallery in her exhibition On the Way to Morning states her “drawings evoke a dream-like state and provide a series of guideposts as we travel life’s journey.” Her work is included in many collections, including the Cincinnati Art Museum.

David Knight

Congratulations to David Knight (Gallery Director) on his retirement as he embarks on this next chapter in his life. It is with mixed feelings of celebration and the fact that we will all miss him and the impacts he has made in the arts over the last 32 years as Gallery Director. From the carpeted walls and floors of the gallery from decades ago, David has transformed these spaces into professional world-class venues. Most importantly his impact on our students, faculty and artists across the region through his leadership and outreach in running the NKU Art Galleries. His legacy of running the galleries and directing hundreds of exhibitions will live on in the hearts and minds of the artists and viewers alike. This work over the last 32 years is a remarkable accomplishment.

Faculty and Staff Accomplishments

Rachael Banks

Congratulations to Rachael Banks (Visual Arts), who has been promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure beginning in the Fall! Rachael came to the Visual Arts faculty in 2016 following earning a BA in Photography and Painting from Bellarmine University, Louisville in 2012 and MFA in Photography from Texas Woman's University in 2015. Rachael’s research stems from a deep connection to trauma within familial and area relationships. Her work informs the impact of socioeconomic issues within the Southern Midwest. Rachael’s photographs have been exhibited regionally, nationally, and in varying publications. Check out her work on her website at

Tracey Bonner & Jeaunita Olowe

This summer, Theatre & Dance faculty members Jeaunita Olowe and Tracey Bonner will be participating in a multi-day Embodiology workshop. Embodiology uses specific principles drawn from indigenous performance methodologies to shape an optimizing mindbody practice. Embodiology is a product of action research in Ghana, mainly from within an Anlo-Ewe community. Ms. Bonner and Ms. Olowe will be learning how to combine African Dance principles with formalized performative and improvisational dance techniques to develop a stronger community of artists, art makers, and art appreciators. Speaking about the upcoming training, Ms. Olowe said she is "excited about the opportunity to expose and enlighten new and fresh faces to African culture through music, song, and dance."

Joan Brummer & Candice van Loveren Geis

Joan Brummer (Music Advisor) and Candice van Loveren Geis (Visual Arts Advisor) presentation proposal "No Student Is an Island in a Career Based Living and Learning Community" was accepted for the NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising Conference in Cincinnati happening Oct. 6-9. Congratulations to Joan and Candice on this important research that highlights advising and community building in SOTA.

Katherine Colborn

Katherine Colborn (Visual Arts) was awarded the Part-Time Faculty Excellence in Instruction Award. Katherine has been a vital contributor to our drawing area and foundations program since the fall of 2019. Katherine has an extensive regional and national exhibition record that is highly valued in the arts; as their experience and passion for artmaking are brought back into the classroom. Katherine’s work explores issues of stillness and sanctuary with compelling visuals that awake the senses. Her strong conceptual underpinnings and amazing craft not only are evident in their own practice but strategies that are developed in our students as well.

Corrie Danieley

Over the last six years, Corrie Danieley's (Theatre & Dance) research has focused on somatic movement training for actor health in class and career. For the Faculty Fellowship, she will be developing and writing about somatic movement techniques that help actors manage performance anxiety as well as help them exit from a character in a healthy way. Ms. Danieley will collaborate with current students to develop workshops that focus on somatic movement exercises and training regimens that she has developed in recent years. After fine-tuning these exercises with her students, Ms. Danieley will film them in order to create a library of resources for current students and alumni. This summer work will be a first step towards future publication and conference presentations aimed at improving the discipline of actor training.

Rick Endres

Rick Endres (SOTA Events and Publicity Manager) was nominated and recognized as a part of NKU's Norse Uppreciation. Rick has found so many ways to be so effective in the remote environment. He has approached the past 9 months as an opportunity. He has continuously brought forth new ideas and new processes to make his job more effectively, and in doing so, has made SOTA more effective. The pandemic has hit the visual and performing arts especially hard as we have given up audiences and many of our in-person operations. Rick has remained responsive and effective in getting our online productions, performances, and exhibitions online and disseminated to as broad an audience as possible.

William Hogg

Congratulations to William Brian Hogg (Music) for receiving a College of Arts and Sciences Professional Development Award in support of his summer project, “The View from the South Pole: Holiday Arrangements by William Brian Hogg.” Professor Hogg will be conducting a large jazz ensemble for a professional recording of his original arrangements of holiday music.

John Zappa

John Zappa (Music) was named the Michael C.C. Adams and Susan S. Adams Outstanding Non-Tenure Track Faculty Member. He has been an instructor at NKU since 2006 in the jazz studies area. During the past 15 years, he has stepped in and stepped up to every challenge, every situation, and every need he has encountered, never more so than throughout the past 9 months. John subverted the limitations imposed by the pandemic to find creative and innovative ways to expand students’ skillsets with virtual lessons, Zoom-ing in professionals from the Jazz world into his classes, leading students to learn new recording skills, and sharing student work wherever possible.

Have Something Newsworthy?

We would love to hear from you! Send your stories and updates to Rick Endres, SOTA Publicity Manager, at If you graduated from any SOTA program, submit an Alumni Update, and you may be featured on our website and other publications!