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Faculty and Staff

 *Department Co-Chair 

Scott Espeseth

Scott Espeseth*

Associate Professor of Art
Art & Art History Department Chair
Office:  Wright Museum of Art, Room 210
Office phone:  (608) 363-2633

Scott Espeseth (b. 1975) has been on the faculty of Beloit College since 2002 teaching all levels of drawing and printmaking. He has an extensive background in printmaking, having earned an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he worked with storied print artists such as Frances Myers and Warrington Colescott. His worked has since evolved to focus mainly on drawing, usually with commonplace media such as graphite pencils and ballpoint pen. His drawings have been described as “clairvoyant,” often depicting familiar spaces charged with a sense of dark presence, or other instances where planes of existence clash: the future sending messages to the past, memory intruding upon the present, or the subconscious bleeding into consciousness. Scott has had exhibitions extensively in the Midwest as well as nationally and internationally, and is represented by Dean Jensen Gallery in Milwaukee and Schema Projects in Brooklyn, NY.

Artist Statement
"My recent series of drawings are idiosyncratic, intimately scaled images derived from personal memories, boyhood fantasies, and the visual environment of my home in the upper mid-west. Carefully drawn in graphite or silverpoint, they are modest in scale, often not much larger than a credit card. Despite their size, they are vivid and dense with information, giving the impression of vast worlds compressed into a tiny field of vision. Through the filter of memory, a sense of unease emerges. Distant storms and contrails mark hazy summer skies, and an eerie stillness permeates. Objects are veiled or covered with drapery, then sometimes revealed and other times left mysterious. Alluding to fears just below the surface, or to the incompleteness of recall, the drapes become shrouds for lost memories. Drawing drapery in silverpoint opens a dialog with the work of old masters that intersects with the contemporary imagery of swimming pools, backyards, and median strips, in a vain attempt to connect these spaces and memories with something more timeless and permanent. The images are frozen, but seem fragile and transient, just barley stained into the surface of the paper. Silverpoints slowly change over time, alternately fading and returning depending on their stage of chemical transformation. These images speak to the transience of life, culture, and memory, and the underlying anxiety of our impermanent situation."

View Scott's Gallery - Scott's CV (PDF) - Scott's Website

Professor, Mark Klassen

Mark Klassen

Professor of Art
Office:  Wright Museum of Art, Annex
Office phone:  (608) 363-2123

Mark Klassen, Associate Professor of Art at Beloit College. He received his B.F.A. in sculpture and printmaking from Minnesota State University in Mankato, and an M.F.A. in sculpture and visual arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Formerly a teacher and technician at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Klassen’s experience also includes the use of computer animation to create children’s educational software. Klassen exhibits his work in solo and group shows nationally and internationally. His work has been mentioned or reproduced in Raw VisionArtforum, the New Yorker, New York Times, Sculpture Magazine and Object Space and Meaning, Principles of Three Dimensional Design by S.J. Luecking. Klassen is also Curator and Director of the Ski Club a contemporary art project space located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He teaches sculpture, printmaking and special topics courses on installation art and book arts.

The Grid
It strikes me that modern culture in the U.S. is embedded in a complex system of interlocking grids, which are so pervasive that they have become virtually invisible. Some grids are literal and observable, such as streets and sewer, telephone, and electrical systems, while others are conceptual and often invisible: information systems, code, and even organizations themselves. In 2003, I participated in the High Desert Test Sites exhibition in Joshua Tree, California and Destination II in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In these exhibit I created artificial transformers with artificial vocalized sounds that mimicked those emitted by the vents that surround us everywhere. My transformers are realistic, but they have a strange, plastic quality, making them simultaneously familiar and foreign. Transformers are often part of these ubiquitous grids. There are thousands of transformers in every city, yet they are symbols of pervasive invisibility. They are forgettable yet critical.

The Payphone Project
The Payphone Project is a bicoastal exhibit that attempts to form connections between two pedestrians on a national scale. The telephone is an element that conceptually and sometimes physically connects individuals within the grid. One phone was placed in the High Desert of California at the High Desert Test Sites and another in the Socrates Sculpture Park on the bank of the East River in Brooklyn. Both payphones were free and connected to each other as well as other payphones located elsewhere around the country. This is done through a call restrictor that electronically connects the payphones but does not allow calling to other numbers. The exhibition allowed, for example, a payphone user standing in the Socrates Sculpture Park to talk to someone in Nebraska drying clothes in a laundromat. As people inevitably create a connection by talking, they are informed of the physical interconnectedness that occurs through the grid. Individualism becomes threatened when viewed in the context of a highly interconnected collective. In a way it seems like the individualism is heightened through the experience of the piece. Additionally, the interaction of the participants is an exciting and unpredictable connection between the "real world" and art spaces. The art spaces became linked in a dialogue with the random, unsuspecting person.

View Mark's Gallery - Mark's CV - View Mark's Website - the ski club - Milwaukee, WI

Art Department Faculty

George Williams Jr.

Professor of Art
Office:  Smith Building, 2nd Floor North
Office phone:  (608) 363-2686

George Williams, Jr., Professor of Art, earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts at California College of the Art where he majored in Illustration.  He completed his Master of Fine Arts at Claremont Graduate University where he majored in painting.  After receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts he spent 13 years in advertising, and his professional endeavors ranged from freelance illustrator, graphic designer, layout artist and outdoor advertising artist.  George Williams entered academia in 1996 and before his arrival to Beloit College in 1999, he taught at Claremont Graduate School, Pomona College, and five regional junior colleges in the Southern California area.  In 2004 Williams became the first tenured African American professor in the history of Beloit College.  He has earned various teaching awards, including, Beloit College's Phee Bong Kang Innovation in Technology-Based Instruction, four Who's Who Among America's Teachers, and Pomona College's Award for most influential teacher, in his first semester at the college.  Williams has presented papers as a panelist at numerous conferences, most recently at the National Race and Pedagogy Conference at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.  The title of session, "Notions of Identity: A Visual Investigation of the Schizophrenic Relationship between the African American Male Body and Mainstream Culture."  His work has been exhibited nationally in solo and groups exhibitions from California, Arizona, Illinois, and Wisconsin.  His course offerings range from advanced painting and drawing, to graphic design and illustration, and computer art and visual communication.

Artist Statement –Recent Work

In an attempt to locate a relationship between the self, memory and temporality, this body of work employs the creation of a textural overlapping between representational iconography, and culturally explicit environments. Intentionally, indigenous visual metaphors have been assembled simultaneously to co-exist and resist, thus question our memories, our associations, and whether our bodies impede or conjoin self-knowledge. “It is a truism in psychology that the self and autobiographical memory are linked, yet still know surprising little about the nature of this relation. Recently theorizing on the role of narrative in human cognition suggests that it is through the construction of a life story that the self and memory are intertwined.” It is these lived stories that are investigated, and subsequently their contributions to our culturally shared perspectives. Concurrently, the work explores the tension between the isolation of self-constructed experiences and the forms of social interactions, which symbolize specific cultural frameworks that lead to narratives. “It is believed that narratives are culturally prescribed form of organizing events through canonicalized linguistic frameworks.” The ways in which individually and collectively we (de)construct life narratives are reflected both by the larger cultural frameworks, which establishes understanding of self and remembrance. Therefore the work embraces difference and juxtaposes, and recognizes that culturally diverse autobiographical and biographical memory can be influenced by social interaction, and or social ostracism.

Symbols of foregrounded idealized black males consigned to rhythmic positions disassociated from backgrounds heavy laden with their own associations and memories,calls into question our/their positionality and bespeaks occasions to tolerate/understand difference, as difference aids us to understand our own worldview. Only by listening to what is being said, can an individual become acutely aware of the conceptual shackles imposed by our self/societal identity and experiences. The work speaks the language of ambiguity, thus swaying from a punitive discourse. Knowledge does not arrive unmediated from the world, we are taught to follow the path of an epistemological praxis to make claim of our existence and subsequent survival. At its essence, this body of work conflates the societal constructed self, explores the temporality and narration of memories, in hopes of bridging myopic voices, thus arriving at the shores of sustainable awareness.

View George's Gallery - George's CV (PDF) - George's Website

Jo Ortel*

Dr. Richard K. and Gloria I. Nystrom Fine Arts Professorial Chair in Art History
Office: Wright Museum of Art, Room 204
Office phone: (608) 363-2634

Jo received her B.A. from Smith College, her M.A. from Oberlin, and her Ph.D. in art history from Stanford. She also studied at Middlebury College and the University of Munich, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. Her principal interests lie in nineteenth- and twentieth-century and contemporary art, including feminist and postcolonial art and theory. She is the author of Woodland Reflections: The Art of Truman Lowe. Her essays on contemporary Native American art have appeared in books and journals, including American Indian Art Magazine. In 2003, she received the James R. Underkofler Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Jo's CV

Joy BeckmanArt Department Faculty

Director of the Wright Museum of Art
Associate Professor of Art History
Office: Wright Museum of Art, Room 212A
Office Phone: (608) 363-2097

Joy received her B.A. from St. Olaf College with majors in chemistry and Asian studies and her M.A. in art history from the National Taiwan University with a major in Chinese bronzes and a minor in Chinese ceramics. She received her Ph. D. in art history at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation is entitled "Layers of Being: Bodies, Objects, and Spaces in Warring State Funerals." Joy speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese and has won several fellowships and awards. Recent publications include, "The Meaning of Material" Antiquity Fall 2013 and "Faculty and Student Curators" in Academic Museums: Campus and Community.

Meredith Root

Visiting Assistant Professor of Photography/Visual Studies/Digital Media
Office:  Smith, Room 303
Office Phone:  (608) 363-2679

Meredith Root received a BA in Filmmaking from Bard College, and a MFA in Filmmaking from The University  of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her animated films have been shown nationally and internationally at such venues as The Slamdance Festival, Anifest, Women in the Director's Chair, and most recently at The Director's Lounge in Berlin, Germany. Though an animator in her own practice, she has a wide range of interests, including digital photography, visual studies, sound design, and computer arts.

BoffaDavid Boffa

Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History
Office:  Wright Museum of Art, Room 212A
Office Phone:  (608) 363-2097

David received his PhD in Art History from Rutgers University in 2011. He is the co-author, along with Chiara Scappini, of The Fonte Gaia from Renaissance to Modern Times (Amsterdam University Press, 2017). Prior to coming to Beloit he lived in Rome supported by a Mellon Dissertation Fellowship and taught art history at the University of Maine. Recent articles include “The Touch of Sanctity: Niccolò dell’Arca’s Signature on the Lamentation” (Source: Notes in the History of Art 35, Summer 2016) and “Shovel Knight and Self-Reflexivity: The Retrogame as Metafiction and as History” (First Person Scholar). His current interests include artistic status and identity in the Italian Renaissance, questions of authorship and audience, critical looks at video games, and Olympic weightlifting.

David's CV 

Cheryl MikuleckyCheryl Mikulecky

Department Secretary
Office:  Wright Museum of Art, Room 203
Office Phone: (608) 363-2396

Cheryl is available to help with any and all bureaucratic matters pertaining to the majors/minors and the Department of Art & Art History.