John Beckelman
Robert O. Daniel Professor of Art, Emeritus

John BeckelmanEducation
B.A., English, Hobart College, Geneva, NY
M.F.A., Ceramics, Illinois State University, Normal, IL

What research or projects are you currently working on with Coe students?
Every summer, I offer our advanced ceramics and sculpture students 24/7 access to the studios - to pursue their own personal directions and to work along side me as I work on my own artwork. We talk about each other's work and we help one another as needed. It's an exciting environment and wonderful opportunity for the students - and for me - to work together as artists, without the restrictions and stress of assigned projects, homework or grades.

What is your most memorable moment in dealing with a Coe student?
Much of our students' success in developing their skills depends on our knowing them well enough to address their individual needs and interests - that's why we limit the size of our classes and spend considerable time working individually with students. And since making art is such a deeply personal activity, we encourage each of our students to find their own personal "voice" as artists. Seeing that happen as I work with a student is one of teaching's greatest rewards for me.

What book are you currently reading?
An eclectic group right now: Theo Jansen's, The Great Pretender, a narrative of the evolution of this innovative Dutch artist's recent mobile sculptural "creatures". Check them out at Food For the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah, a compilation of this well respected Thai Buddhist monk's talks and writings. What Is The What, by Dave Eggers, a moving account of the struggle of one of the infamous "lost boys" of Sudan as he makes his way from Sudan to the United States.

What does teaching at Coe mean to you?
The Art Department offers students the opportunity to grow as individuals and as artists. To this end our program provides students with a broad background in the visual arts, as well as the opportunity for in-depth specialization. We teach by giving students the tools to find their own visual solutions and to discover their own creative voice.

It's also important to remember that the well-rounded liberal arts education you receive at Coe develops the range of skills and experiences necessary for success in today's constantly changing world. In fact, Coe students often combine their art major with other academic and career interests, pursuing second majors or minors.

What advice would you give a prospective student?
I think that it's important to always remember that college is a wonderful - and at times unpredictable - adventure; so work hard, push yourselves, test your limits, but enjoy the ride.

The internship and off-campus travel opportunities available through Coe are important supplements to the art curriculum here. These programs extend students' experiences beyond the classroom, enabling travel to all parts of the world and placing students in businesses, artist studios and arts organizations in Cedar Rapids and in other cities such as New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

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