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Illustrator Eric Velasquez’s talk Sept. 11 opens series featuring six artists through November : WCSU to present fall semester M.F.A. artist lecture program

DANBURY, CONN. — Six artists whose paintings, illustrations, sculptures and mixed-media works have been widely exhibited to critical acclaim across the United States and abroad will discuss their artistic philosophies and creative process during the Western Connecticut State University fall semester Master of Fine Arts lecture series continuing from Sept. 11 through Nov. 19, 2018.

All lectures, sponsored by the WCSU Department of Art M.F.A. in Visual Arts program, will be at 11 a.m. in Room 144 of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. Admission will be free and the public is invited; advance registration is requested at

The series will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 11, with a lecture by Eric Velasquez, whose illustrations featured in popular book series for young readers and picture books have earned him numerous awards and international recognition. A native of New York City born in Spanish Harlem to parents of Afro-Puerto Rican heritage, he received his B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts. Embarking on a freelance career, he completed more than 300 book jackets and interior illustrations from 1984 to 1996 for the “Encyclopedia Brown,” “Apple Classic” and “Ghost Writers” series as well as Beverly Naidoo’s “Journey to Jo’burg” and “Chain of Fire” and Nikki Grimes’ “Jazmin’s Notebook.”

During the past two decades, Velasquez has further burnished his reputation as an illustrator of critically praised picture books including “The Piano Man” by Debbi Chocolate, for which he won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent.  He is the author and illustrator of “Grandma’s Records,” an autobiographical picture book based on his childhood experiences with his grandmother; and “Grandma’s Gift,” winner of the 2011 Pura Belpre Award for Illustration.

Velasquez’s illustrations also have been featured in young-reader books about diverse subjects ranging from slavery and the Underground Railroad to Mozart, magician Harry Houdini and champion prizefighter Muhammad Ali, as well as the 2010 NAACP Image Award-winning book, “Our Children Can Soar.” He collaborated as illustrator with author Carole Boston Weatherford on “Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library,” winner of the 2018 Walter and Golden Kite awards for its biography of the founding curator of the collection that became the foundation for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. He teaches book illustration at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

  • Monday, Sept. 24: Painter Deborah Zlotsky has participated over the past two decades in 22 solo exhibitions and 70 group exhibitions across the United States and in Italy, including solo shows during 2017 at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in New York and Robischon Gallery in Denver, Colorado. She has presented installation drawings in shows at Robischon, Providence College in Rhode Island and the University of Connecticut, where she earned her M.F.A. in Painting and Drawing. Her paintings are held in 18 public and private collections ranging from Capital One and the Waldorf Astoria to Rutgers University, Borusan Contemporary and the Albany Institute of History and Art. She has received many honors including fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Saltonstall Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and grants from the Rhode Island School of Design and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Zlotsky has been an arts educator for 19 years, serving since 2013 as associate professor of Experimental and Foundation Studies at RISD. “Zlotsky works experimentally, beginning with a mark of color in her abstract paintings or a layer of powered graphite in her semi-abstract drawings, and allows the gradually forming shapes and images to guide her composition,” said biographical notes on the web-based service Artsy. The artist observed that her work, “although abstract, comes out of a personal awareness of the complexity, subtleties and coincidences of being in the world.”
  • Monday, Oct. 8: Fritz Horstman has earned recognition as an artist who works in diverse media including sculpture, drawing, photography, video and music. His most recent commission is the 14-by-8-foot stainless steel sculpture “Between the Trees” installed this summer in As, Norway, and he will begin an artist residency this fall at the Bauhaus Dessau in Germany. His more than 70 solo and group exhibitions have been at U.S. venues from New England to California as well as sites in France and Ireland, and he has been curator for shows in Brooklyn and New Haven. “In my art practice, I address the ever-moving seam between nature and culture,” his artist statement said. By using many modes of artistic expression, he added, he seeks “to explore the underlying principles of how human culture is constructed and how it relates to the natural systems that are in place.” Horstman also has produced illustrations for many private clients including his longstanding freelance relationship with Short’s Brewing Company. Recipient of an M.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art, he is a renowned arts educator who has served since 2004 as coordinator of the artist residency and education program of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, organizing workshops and lectures for colleges, arts centers and museums in the United States, Germany, France, England, Ireland, Japan and Lebanon.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 23: Jon Krause, a lifelong native of Philadelphia and graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, has established a reputation over the past two decades as a leading editorial and commercial illustrator. “A classic Krausian illustration contains certain archetypal elements — a single character with an elongated figure and neck, a face that hides any tell of extreme emotion, a feeling of pathos bordering on loneliness and solitude, an unpredictable and entirely original color palette, and always the twist: that sense of visual surprise that toys with our sense of verisimilitude,” wrote Matt Lennert, creative director for Deloitte, one of his many corporate clients. Krause said in an interview with Communication Arts that his favorite assignments are those “that have absolutely no history of symbolism or metaphor on the subject to draw on, so the art director and I can create our own visual vocabulary.” His illustrations have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post and Time as well as in published materials for the National Park Service, Pew Charitable Trusts, McGraw Hill, Time Warner Books and Random House. His editorial illustrations often focus on topics in finance, medicine and education. Among the many organizations that have recognized him for excellence in illustration are Communication Arts, American Illustration, Graphis, the Society of Illustrators in Los Angeles and the Art Directors Club of New York.
  • Monday, Nov. 5: Glenn Goldberg, recipient of an M.F.A. from Queens College at CUNY who pursues his painting career at a studio in his native New York City, has shown his works at more than 40 exhibitions across the United States and in Germany. Recent solo shows have been held at the New York Studio School and the Tayloe Piggott Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming. His works are held in public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Guggenheim Museum, Brooklyn Museum and National Academy of Arts and Letters, all in New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, California; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia; the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C.; the Rose Art Museum in Waltham, Massachusetts; and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. His numerous honors include grants from the Edward F. Albee and John Simon Guggenheim foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts. Artist notes for his 2015 show at Betty Cunningham Gallery in New York observed that Goldberg draws inspiration from a culturally eclectic range of sources: “Goldberg’s compositions, consciously devoid of a narrative context, allow for the discovery of layered visual references ranging from the decorative arts to childhood imagination.” He currently teaches at Queens College and previously taught at the New York Studio School and the Cooper Union School of Art. He published the 2017 book “?” with artist Amber Scoon and will collaborate with his co-author this fall in an exhibition at the WCSU Art Gallery from Oct. 25 through Dec. 9.
  • Monday, Nov. 19: Elena Sisto has taken her place during a career spanning more than four decades as one of “the best figurative painters of her generation,” wrote arts critic Stephen Westfall. Sisto has explored themes ranging from the feminine identity to the artist’s personal life in more than 20 solo and 90 group exhibitions at museums and galleries across the country, including several recent New York appearances at Lori Bookstein Fine Art and a new solo show this fall at Bookstein Projects. Her works are held in many private and museum collections and were included in the 43rd Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at the Corcoran Gallery of American Art in 1993. She was inducted in 2015 into the National Academy and has been a recipient of fellowships from many organizations including Yaddo, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Millay Colony and the National Endowment for the Arts. A graduate of Brown University with a B.A. in Art, Sisto has been a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts since 1997, and also has taught at Columbia University, the Chautauqua Institution and the New York Studio School. Her works have been reviewed in leading arts publications as well as the New Yorker and the New York Times, where critic Martha Schwendener lauded Sisto’s celebration of “lowly, mundane and domestic things” in a Lori Bookstein show focusing on her studio life. “She employs the banal, flat coloring and cultivated ‘bad’ drawing of artists like Philip Guston, Alex Katz and Alice Neel to sketch out daily life in a space where women were historically denied access.”

For more information, contact the WCSU Department of Art at (203) 837-8403.



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