Building Connections Through Art

Benefits gained by studying the arts and humanities – self-awareness, creative problem solving, appreciation of diversity and development of collaborative work habits – are applicable in a wide range of careers, said Dr. Una Mjurka, an associate professor of art and ceramics at Fresno State.

Mjurka, winner of the 2015-16 Provost’s Award in Faculty Service, will discuss “Ceramics and Community: Building Connections Through Art” in a lecture at 3:30 on Wednesday, Oct. 12, in the Henry Madden Library.

Mjurka spearheaded a service project benefiting the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Working with students, alumni, faculty and staff, she oversaw the creation of ceramic pieces for the zoo’s new African Adventure exhibit.

Mjurka’s lecture will discuss the roles that ceramic materials play in the development and sustainability of various cultures.

“Historically, the ceramic medium has been influential not only as a form of artistic expression, but also in the development and sustainability of various cultures,” Mjurka said. “The broad, diverse application of ceramic materials continues to play a significant part in advancing society as well as in bringing people together — from aeronautics to dinner parties, ceramic has its role. Through their creative practice in ceramics, our students obtain the necessary skills for working with the medium, but they may also discover a unique expressive voice that contributes to our community in a meaningful way.”

The Provost’s Awards ( Lecture Series honors and showcases the recipients of the Provost’s Awards (2015-2016) and provides them an opportunity to present, share and discuss their work with the campus.

“It is a humbling experience to be selected for the Provost’s Award for Faculty Service from a group of esteemed colleagues nominated for this honor university-wide,” Mjurka said. “It also is exhilarating to be recognized for the contributions I have made to enriching the arts scene both on campus and within the local community. I am thrilled to represent the dynamic group of dedicated faculty members teaching at the Department of Art and Design.”

Dr. Carmen Caprau, of the College of Science and Mathematics and recipient of the Distinguished Achievent in Research, Scholarship or Creative Activity Award, will also speak at the Oct. 12 lecture. Caprau’s lecture, “Why Knot,” will discuss Knot Theory, which analyzes a tangible object and develops it into a body of mathematical knowledge with many applications in other areas of math and science, and using it to introduce students to mathematical research.

The lecture series aims to raise the level of academic and intellectual discourse among colleagues, and to enrich connections with others across the campus.

Mjurka said statistical evidence supports the belief that study and participation in the fine and performing arts improves learning throughout all academic areas.

“Our youth are overwhelmed with data and often are searching for meaningful learning experiences. The arts and humanities readily provide such opportunities to majors and non-majors alike.”  

Lectures, which take place on the second floor of the Henry Madden Library ( in Room 2206 (south wing), last about 45 minutes with 15 minutes for questions from the audience. The Provost’s Awards Lecture Series is open to the public.

Some of Mjurka’s recent artwork is on display at the Corridor 2122 gallery (2122 Mono St.) in downtown Fresno. Her exhibition of sculptural ceramics titled “In Absentia” will remain on display through Oct. 23. Read more about her exhibit here.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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