University of Pittsburgh
Studio Arts

Letter from the Chair

On July 22, 1968, a memo from Provost Charles Peake reported that Chancellor Wesley Posvar approved the establishment of a separate Department of Studio Arts, effective immediately, and appointed Virgil Cantini as the department’s first Chairman. Courses in studio art had been offered on campus for several years (an alumnus reported taking a ceramics course in the halls of the Cathedral of Learning in the early 1960s) as part of the Fine Arts Department that also included art history and art education courses. As the Department of Studio Arts marks its 42nd anniversary and the bustle of another fall semester is underway, we are pleased to launch the first edition of the department’s e-newsletter with information about our progress and events, as well as our students, faculty, and alumni.

Because this is the first communication to a broader audience of alumni and friends, some of you may not be aware that Professor Edward Powell retired in the summer of 2007 after 36 years of teaching. I had the great pleasure this summer to visit Ed and his wife Janet at the home that they built last year in Indiana; while visiting I was also able to see an exhibition of his paintings on paper. My brief glimpse into their retirement was as inspiring as his prints and paintings, and his years of teaching in our studios.

After Professor Powell announced his retirement, the department engaged in a rigorous national search and Professor Lenore Thomas ( featured below, joined the faculty in the fall of 2007. She teaches primarily in printmaking and transformed the stone lithography studio into a screenprint studio to offer the first Screenprint course in the spring of 2009 - she also teaches Foundation Drawing. Her own creative work flourishes as an independent professional artist and also as a part of Satan’s Camaro, a collaboration with a printmaking colleague who lives and teaches in Maryland.

The department completed another national search in May 2010 and we are pleased that Professor Aaron Henderson ( has joined our faculty and will begin teaching Digital Imaging this fall and Foundation Design in the spring. Stay tuned for a faculty profile and a new course that he will develop as a media based elective course, in the future. His own works in video, installation, and performance examine the personal, cultural, and political ramifications of human movement from the smallest gesture to extreme physical action. We are thrilled and delighted to welcome Aaron and his family to Pittsburgh.

While our faculty are active professional artists and engaged in teaching, our students and alumni are also accomplished. Studio Arts majors have participated in the Brackenridge Summer Research Fellowships every summer for the past five years, another major has been awarded a Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarship for the 2011 academic year to study abroad at Kobe University in Japan, and others are pursuing summer internships that explore their future career inclinations. We often receive word from alumni near and far of their accomplishments as well; many have long-term careers in the arts or other professions where they apply their creativity, a few have just completed graduate work, others are organizing exhibitions and cultural events, and several have just packed their cars and moved across the country to begin graduate school or other career opportunities.

At the beginning of a new season, I see the browning leaves and shedding bark of the Sycamore trees along Schenley Drive and am reminded of the cycle of the academic year: the welcoming hellos of fall and the send off congratulations of mid-spring. As many of you know, our founding department chairman Virgil Cantini passed away just over a year ago in May 2009 at the age of 90. His contributions and legacy in the department made a significant imprint, as have his artworks across campus. I wonder sometimes at his vision 42 years ago for this program and how it has certainly transformed throughout the years. Would he have envisioned approximately 110 majors pursuing their creative interests? That 74% of the majors would be women? That 63% of our students would be double majors in other areas of study? While so many plans have already been realized, and so much has certainly changed throughout 42 years, I do believe that the department brims with as much potential and possibility today as it did on July 22, 1968.

Please keep in touch with us and send any comments or suggestions to

Another exciting semester awaits; with best regards,

Delanie Jenkins
Associate Professor and Chair