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Message from Dean Stuart

Being in a community often includes inviting guests to temporarily join the community to share time, talents and hospitality. The Hartford Art School has a long tradition of hosting visiting artists and scholars throughout the academic year, be it a studio class visit or something more formal and supported by one of our many endowed funds. These important guests bring to campus new perspectives, challenging ideas and expand our awareness of contemporary art and artists.

This year we host two significant guests: Mark Burns, the Georgette and Richard Koopman Distinguished Chair for the Visual Arts, and Billie Lee, a Jackie McLean Fellow.

Mark and his work will be featured in the Joseloff Gallery February 28–March 29, with a reception on Thursday, March 7 at 5 p.m. 

Billie Lee is collaborating in an experimental exhibition as learning space entitled Reading Room: Urgent Pedagogies in the Silpe Gallery from March 4–17.

As always, you are welcome to join the public events featuring these exceptional artists.


About Mark Burns

Mark Burns is a ceramic artist and educator who creates narrative, personal works with a pop sensibility and sardonic humor. He studied illustration at the School of the Dayton Art Institute in Ohio (BFA, 1972), before he moved to Seattle and completed his MFA at the University of Washington (1974). Burns often creates works that mimic or reference domestic objects commonly manufactured in clay by carefully splicing together elements of functional and decorative wares to create psychologically loaded tableaux. Simultaneously enticing and unsettling, Burns’ body of work embraces bad taste, strangeness, sex, and politics. His sensibility is often ascribed to his queer identity, and his visibility in the field has reoriented questions of suitable subject matter and created a platform for other artists to explore traditionally taboo content. Burns found early success after completing his graduate studies. He earned a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1976, and he had a solo exhibition at the Helen Drutt Gallery in 1982.

Additionally, he has taught at a number of universities and colleges around the country, including stints at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Burns joined the faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1990, and he ultimately served as head of ceramics and chair of the art department. He was also recently selected as a 2016 – 2018 artist in residence at Harvard University. Throughout his career, Burns has exhibited widely and has been collected by many museums including the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC, and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. Mark Burns was elected a Fellow of the American Craft Council in 2018. 

About the Georgette and Richard Koopman Distinguished Chair for the Visual Arts

The Koopman Chair program was endowed in 1989 by the then president of the Hartford Art School Endowment, Inc. board, Georgette Koopman. The selection of the artist rotates through all studio disciplines. Past recipients have included George McNeil, John Coplans, Judy Pfaff, Cornelia Parker, Joyce Kozloff, and Ernesto Pujol to name a few.

About Billie Lee

Billie Lee is an artist, educator and writer working at the intersection of art, Pedagogy and social change. Her arts practice includes painting, video, and a documentary film project, Moving Home, that premiered at the Hawaii International Film Festival in 2012. She received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and MFA from Yale Univeristy, and has held positions at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Yale University Art Gallery, Queens Museum, and the Doris Duke foundation for Islamic Art. As a doctoral candidate in American Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Lee’s dissertation project extends her interest in pedagogy through an examination on the cultural politics of difference in contemporary art and education.

Reading Room: Urgent Pedagogies activates and expands possibilities for learning and teaching in the university context—and around what we might deem “urgent” in our current moment—to stimulate new and informal ways of thinking about the classroom.

About the McLean Fellowship

The McLean Fellowship is sponsored annually by the University of Hartford and open to all seven colleges to promote a diverse faculty and advance the cultural competence of our campus community. Candidates are nominated by discipline and selected by a campus wide committee.