Artists Who Teach

Artists Who Teach


When President William J. "Bud" Micheels decided that Stout needed to enlarge the scope of its campus, that it needed to broaden the objectives of what the university should do for students, he looked for a person who was dynamic and assertive and foresightful enough to be able to put together an entire art department.

He found Orazio Fumagalli, whose very name sounds like he would be capable of the task. Fumagalli was associate director of the Tweed Museum in Duluth, Minn., at the time.

"My job was to create an art department," Fumagalli said simply. So he did. And that art department is now the biggest undergraduate art program in the UW System, with artists/teachers who exhibit all over the country, as well as in Europe, and teach more than 650 students.

"It was difficult at first," Fumagalli said candidly. "It was a hostile environment." Fumagalli believes that there was adversity on campus to the idea of an art department. "It was difficult," he said, "but the secret of success was that President Micheels and others were willing to defend and fight for art... for culture... for a broader education for Stout students."

"I conceived of an art department made up of artists who teach,"Fumagalli said, "and who are philosophically diverse," so he proceeded to go out and search and find just that.

Fumagalli also saw the importance of the artists/teachers spending time doing their art. Hence, faculty members were promised studios in which to ply their art. "A studio is to an artist what a laboratory is to a scientist," Fumagalli said. And according to current faculty members, that attitude still persists. They are strongly encouraged to remain productive. In fact, promotions come more easily to those who perform their art, one faculty member said.

Fumagalli believes that true artists live their art. It is for them a passion. And he should know. Fumagalli's father and his father's father, and his father's father's father were all artists.

"I tried to get out of the family business," Fumagalli said, and he was planning to go into another field. "But I thought about it during the war (World War II), and I realized that art is a part of me, a part of who I am."

And Fumagalli is certainly one individual who made art an integral part of what UW-Stout is.

Outlook Spring '96