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Art grants support PLU faculty

August 11, 2008

Art grants support PLU faculty

PLU faculty members Holly Senn and Greg Youtz were among 80 Washington state artists to receive awards from the Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) program, funded by Artist Trust.The GAP program provides support for artist-generated projects, and is open to artists of all disciplines in Washington state. Youtz said the awards are meant to literally fill the gap between the funds an artist has available and the funds they need to make art. In 2008, a record 975 artists applied for the awards.

Both Senn, virtual reference services librarian, and Youtz, professor of music, received the maximum award of $1,500.

A visual artist, Senn uses discarded library books to make sculptures and installations that explore the lifecycle of ideas. It’s an organic, non-linear process, she explains, where thoughts are born, disseminated, and then adopted or forgotten. She finds inspiration in the natural world, from the variety of books she finds and in her work as an academic librarian.

“My work is very ephemeral,” Senn said. “Most of my installations, once they come down, only the pictures of the display remain. I’m reliant on the computer for showing my work.”

With her award, she’s purchased an iMac and software, which will enable her to enhance her online digital portfolio, market her work to a larger audience and mock-up large installations. She also plans to create a vodcast tour of her studio for Tacoma’s Art at Work month in November.

Meanwhile, Youtz used his award to defray the costs of creating a professional recording of his composition “Fragments: Three Songs of Hope.” The three-song set, originally composed in 2003 from fragments of poems, is now part of a nine-movement oratorio, “Drum Taps: Nine Poems on Themes of War.” He’ll use the recording to market “Drum Taps,” which has yet to premiere.

The professional recording happened earlier this summer in Lagerquist Concert Hall. Youtz hired three professional musicians, vocalist Janeanne Houston, oboist Shannon Spicciati and pianist Sheila Bristow, to perform the songs. All are lecturers in PLU’s music department.

“The experience was just so rewarding,” Youtz said. “It was delightful to work with people who are so gifted and technically talented.”

Both Senn and Youtz praised the work of Artist Trust and its continued support of the arts in Washington state. The nonprofit organization was founded in 1987 by a group of arts patrons and artist concerned about the lack of support for individual artists.

“It’s an absolutely unique organization,” Youtz said. “In general, the making of art isn’t commercially viable … Artist Trust is one of the few organizations that respect the making of art.”