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Stephanie James Named Founding Director of VPA’s School of Art
Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) has appointed Stephanie James the founding director of the college’s future School of Art.
James is a fine artist and currently associate dean and head of the School of Visual Arts at Arts University Bournemouth (AUB), United Kingdom. She will assume the duties of director on July 1 and will also serve as a professor on the School of Art faculty.
As founding director, James will work alongside the faculty in defining, implementing and sustaining a progressive vision of the study and practice of visual arts in the 21st century. The School of Art will be the result of a merger of the college’s existing departments of art and foundation, which encompass programs in art education, ceramics, history of art, illustration, jewelry and metalsmithing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and the foundational courses required for VPA students pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree. The faculty is also developing a new bachelor of science degree for students who want to combine studio and creative art practices with a broader liberal arts background.
“I’m delighted to welcome Stephanie to the college and look forward to working with her as she assumes this critical role,” says VPA Dean Ann Clarke. “Her experiences as an artist, scholar, curator and administrator will allow her to establish the School of Art as a leader in undergraduate and graduate education and research. She will be a strong advocate for the school’s faculty and students and a willing collaborator with those within and outside of VPA.”
“Syracuse University has always been, for me, a prestigious institution with a very high reputation and standard with alumni who have been instrumental in changing the way we think about making and celebrating art,” says James. “Within a supportive yet challenging environment with breathtaking facilities, the faculty engage students in finding and developing their own voice in the pursuit of becoming the next generation of artists and designers. What is truly extraordinary is the depth and breadth of the artistic practice of each member of the faculty. I am looking forward to working with everyone in creating a vibrant and talked-about School of Art that continues to surprise the cultural industries.”
At AUB, James is a professor of fine art curatorial practices, developing TheGallery program, a unique space for the visual arts at the university. She manages text + work, a research scheme that brings artists and writers together to create a project that is exhibited in TheGallery. Through the Word Matters seminars held during the Venice Biennale, text + work has an international focus, bringing together the general public, an art-interested public and experts to discuss matters of writing on and through art.
James’ research focuses on curation and the dynamic between space and the creative process. She creates artworks and engages in exhibition making–organizing, curating and developing strong working external partnerships to realize major projects. Recent funded research has focused on developing a framework for determining the way in which leaders assess effectiveness and evaluate the impact of the “art school” gallery; she believes that the gallery is an important space for pedagogy and a rich site for developments in research in arts, design, media and performance.
James is a member of several professional organizations, including the CHEAD Executive (Council for Higher Education in Art and Design) responsible for the Gallery Network, the National Association for Fine Art Education (NAFAE) and the European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA). She is secretary to the steering group of Paradox Fine Art European Forum, affiliated to ELIA. She is also a Tate member.
James holds a master of fine art degree in sculpture from Newcastle University, United Kingdom; a bachelor of art degree from Hull College, United Kingdom; and a bachelor of fine art degree from Concordia University, Canada.