Karen Gunderson

NOREEN HUGHES: Newsprint: Collection of Mount Saint Vincent: Fine Arts Chairperson: Monday November 20, 1978

The Fine Arts department, the administration, and the C.M.S.V. faculty in general, are excited and impressed by Ms. Karen Gunderson, the new chairman of the Fine Arts department.  And now that we are midway through the semester, she has left nothing short of an excellent impression on the student body.

After getting her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater and her graduate degree (M.F.A.) at the University of Iowa at Iowa City, Ms. Gunderson embarked on her truly impressive teaching career:
2 years at Cornell College; Mount Vernon, Iowa.
3 years at Ohio State University at Columbus.
3 Years at New York University’s School of the Arts.
Visiting artist-in-residence, State University of New York at Buffalo.
Visiting artist-in-residence, Chicago Art Institute.
2 summers and 1 spring at the State University of New York at Purchase- Continuing Education.

However, Ms. Gunderson is not simply an art teacher.  She is an artist- a painter- to be exact.  She has been painting clouds for thirteen years, from the view of being above them.  Last October she has a show at the Gloria Cordella Gallery at Forty One East Fifty Seventh Street in Manhattan; and this past November, Ray Boyd Gallery in Chicago.  She is presently working on six different commissions.

Ms. Gunderson feels that it is important for art students to study with working artists, as these professionals provide a model for such students.  They need to know what it is like to live as a working artist.  A working artist who also teaches is a resource to her students.  Such a teacher will try to be helpful.  The students must learn a lot of discipline.  They must work long and hard every day.  They should study the derivations of the fine arts, such as art history.  She feels that the students should be demanding-that they should demand individual attention from their art teachers.

Ms. Gunderson feels that a major in Fine Arts is a very individual thing.  One must build up a curiosity about things.  One must learn to draw everything that they are interested in into the art.  She feels that as an undergraduate, one should get the very best education possible- in both the liberal arts and the fine arts.  It was therefore not as surprising to hear Ms. Gunderson then say that “A liberal arts college provides the best education that an artist can get.”

Ms. Gunderson came to New York City in the summer of 1972 to visit.  She stayed at a friend’s loft) She now lives in a left herself, in Tribeca- Triangle below Canal Street) in Soho.  She came to stay in 1973.  She feels that every serious professional in the art world has to see how they fare in this most stimulating community in the world, New York City.

The Mount’s closeness to New York is one of the things that attracted her here, but by no means is it the only thing.  She said that it was similar to Cornell College in that it has a small population and a good student-faculty ratio.  Ms. Gunderson stated that our campus was a fantastic asset- especially to artists.  It is an artistically rich campus containing all different kinds if space.  It affords artists the opportunity to deal with nature.  She has been giving her students assignments which call on them to do this.

Ms. Gunderson is brimming with ideas for the Fine Arts department, she plans to continue and expand on the six disciplines: painting, drawing, ceramics, photography and sculpture.  She would like to implement Senior thesis shows, video tapes of lecturing artists, and visiting artists.  Under discussion is developing a core curriculum and utilizing Maryvale’s facilities differently.  She feels that the students should utilize New York City better.  To achieve this end she is giving assignments which force the students to use the city.  Ms. Gunderson feels certain that these young artists’ natural excitement and enthusiasm will take over and then the students will utilize the city without any prodding being needed.

Though things are a bit in flux since she is new to the department, she is very happy to be here and enjoying herself tremendously.  She is quite excited about the very talented students that she has found here.  She gave as an example her painting class.  She said that her students very easily implement any ideas which they discuss.  Ms. Gunderson could not hide her dismay, however, that art students did not spend more of their free time working on their work in Maryvale.  She stated her very strong belief that “being an artist is ninety-nine percent work and one percent talent.”

Ms. Gunderson is quite pleased about the high caliber of the department’s faculty.  She mentioned approvingly Mr. Fuchsman’s utilization of our campus for his photography classes, and Mrs. Sullivan’s art education program; among other things.  She feels that out art education program is one of the very best around.

Ms. Gunderson is an exciting and refreshing person who exudes positive and genuine enthusiasm.  Everyone owes it to themselves to take a course with her, or some other talented member of this department this coming semester.  Why don’t you keep it in mind when that all-too-familiar registration time arrives once again?  It would be a decision that you would never regret.