Through unique venues and community collaboration, professors of the arts at The Ohio State University at Mansfield provide extensive learning experiences for both their students and the local community.
Most students who participate in theatre productions, art shows and chorus at Ohio State Mansfield likely will never pursue a degree in the arts; instead, they participate to earn general education credits and for the chance to perform.
“I think one of the things that is very different about our program is that we really get to know our students,” said art professor John Thrasher. “We definitely build a learning community here, and in the case of art, it becomes a very creative cauldron. There’s a great energy within the group.”
Professors blend community outreach with class assignments to give deeper meaning to the art students create.
The University Chorus last year performed at the NAACP Martin Luther King event and partnered with St. Peter’s Catholic Church and First Congregational Church to sing Puccini’s Messe di Gloria with a full orchestra and soloists.
“Most of the students had never sung with an orchestra,” said music professor and chorus director Joel Vega. “So it was really fun and a great learning experience for them.”
Kate Shannon, art professor and curator for the Pearl Conard Art Gallery, and Thrasher try to relate the content of the gallery art shows to the curriculum each semester.
“The gallery is our way to expose them to a wider variety of artists,” Shannon said. “We try to bring in artists who are working in non-traditional ways, or ways that we don’t typically see in the community. We aren’t looking to showcase artists who are primarily interested in selling their work. It is more of an experimental space.”
The art instructors also volunteer at the Mansfield Art Center. Shannon recently was on the board of directors while Thrasher and his students have created several pieces of art for fundraisers.
“One of the benefits of the connection with the art center is that my students realize that I am very engaged in a place outside of here,” Thrasher said. “They know that I am a regular participant in exhibitions. They know that I volunteer for their events. It excites their interest a bit and they end up showing up where they might not otherwise do that.”
The Theatre department produces three to four performances each year, combining the talents of Ohio State Mansfield students and community members. They also partner with The Children’s Theatre Foundation and the Renaissance Youth Theatre to produce children’s theatre productions hosted on campus. Theatre director and professor Joe Fahey serves on both the Children’s Theatre Foundation and the Ohio Theatre Alliance.
When a production has a community services connection or social cause behind it, Fahey reaches out to groups that support or advocate for the issue. Fahey partnered with The Welcome Johnny and Jane Home Project during the recent production, The Tin Faces Project.
“We offer patrons both an entertainment experience and an educational experience,” professor and theatre director Joe Fahey said. “They are getting a chance to see our students on stage doing really impressive work. It represents the campus very well.”
#311180 OSU Mansfield Friends of the Theatre
#604166 James C. Lewis Technical Theatre
#606065 Gerald B. Rice Theater Prize
#602640 Goodman Scholarship