The College of Arts and Humanities at Fresno State is the largest college on campus, encompassing nine departments, and the Armenian Studies Program.

Of the 60 new faculty members at Fresno State this fall, about 22% of the new hires are in the College of Arts and Humanities. These new faculty bring innovative research, diverse disciplines and technical expertise to our college, strengthening our programs across many of our disciplines.

Over the next few weeks, we will introduce you to these new faces, by department.

Department of Art & Design

Dr. Luis J. Gordo Peláez

Dr. Luis J. Gordo Peláez joins the Department of Art and Design as an assistant professor, coming to Fresno State from the University of Texas at Austin.

A native of Spain, Dr. Luis Gordo-Peláez received a Ph.D. in art history from Complutense University of Madrid with a dissertation topic on civic architecture and urbanism in Renaissance Castile. Prior to joining Fresno State, he conducted research as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, and taught in the art history departments of several universities in Texas, Virginia and Tennessee.

The history of cultural production and built environment of the early modern transatlantic Hispanic world are his primary research interests. His latest research examines the urban reform projects and public works agenda of the late colonial Mexican cities, particularly in Guanajuato and the region of El Bajío.

He is thrilled to join the community at Fresno State and excited to be back in the state of California, where he first lived 10 years ago while he studied abroad at UC Berkeley.

Questions:

Question: What are you most looking forward to here at Fresno State?

Answer: I am really excited to meet the students and the other faculty on campus, to become part of the community here in Fresno and to collaborate with everyone on different projects. I also look forward to learning more about the culture, history and traditions that have enriched the Valley.    

Q: Can you tell us how you became involved in your specialty area?

A: My first contact with art history was as a child growing up in Madrid and visiting the Prado Museum with my grandfather. In college, I became fascinated with the urban history of the early modern world and developed this interest in the urbanism of cities and their civic architecture. Public works such as town halls, bridges, fountains, aqueducts, granaries, hospitals, etc., that were functional and essential for the government and living conditions of a city became my obsession. I learned to appreciate these historical buildings first in Spain, and later in Mexico, where I continued my research and encountered superb examples in cities such as Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Morelia, Querétaro, Guadalajara and Mexico City.

Q: What will your distinctive background do to elevate the Art and Design Department offerings here at Fresno State?

A: Coming from another country, speaking several languages and having lived in a variety of places, I hope to contribute to the diversity that distinguishes and enriches Fresno State. My teaching experience and current research explore the architectural history and the visual and material culture of the early modern world, particularly the transatlantic Hispanic world. With my classes and my scholarly work, I hope to complement and supplement the department nicely and to build on the current work and strengths of my fellow faculty colleagues. I am excited about the possibility of co-organizing with other faculty members one or several courses that would bridge our research interests and expose the students to new topics and subjects.

Q: What are you reading?

A: I am reading a fascinating book by historian Charles F. Walker entitled “Shaky Colonialism: The 1746 Earthquake-Tsunami in Lima, Peru, and its long aftermath.” In it, Professor Walker explores the consequences of this devastating catastrophe for what was one of the wealthiest cities of America and the contested plans for its reconstruction, which exposed the tremendous social and racial disparities and tensions built up after centuries of colonialism.

Q: What is a book you think everyone should read?

A: There is always one that comes to mind that has been in my life since I was a child and it is a must for any reader: “Don Quixote de la Mancha” by Miguel de Cervantes. There is so much packed into this wonderful novel. It continues to amaze me every time I read it. It is so current, so modern. I believe everyone can identify with some of the characters, their challenges, uncertainties, dreams, etc. Plus, this novel is very close to my heart. My family is originally from a town in La Mancha, very close to that place whose name Cervantes “does not care to remember,” at the beginning of his novel, where “a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.”

Q: What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?

A: When I was a child, I was obsessed with Madonna’s music. I bought all her albums and learned all her songs. I still have her LP vinyl record of “True Blue” that I bought when I was 11.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve in the classroom or a mistake students tend to make?

A: For me, perhaps one of the things that bugs me the most is when students put their feet up on the chairs in front of them or slouch all the way down.

Q: When are your office hours?

A: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2-3 p.m. and Wednesdays, 8-11 a.m.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to share?

A: I am proud to say that I have already met and taken a picture with Victor E. Bulldog III during our New Faculty Orientation. I am ready to cheer for the team. Go Dogs!

Art & Design Assistant Professor Dr. Ahran KooDr. Ahran Koo joins the Department of Art and Design as an assistant professor, coming to Fresno State from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.

As an artist, art educator and art advocate, Dr. Ahran Koo promotes the efficacy of art to address cultural and social awareness. Locally and globally, she focuses on community art and critical multiculturalism, encourages interdisciplinary collaboration through social engagement and advocates culturally responsive pedagogy.

Her research and teaching expertise include community art, visual storying, visual culture, art-based research, digital narrative, critical multiculturalism and participatory action research. She has taught art at all levels — K-higher education in private, public and community schools and museums in global settings including USA, South Korea, the Philippines, China, Russia and Peru. She has also exhibited her artwork internationally for seventeen years including painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, digital art and installation work.

Koo has published and presented her research at numerous national and international conferences such as the American Educational Research Association, National Art Education Association, International Society for Education through Art and the National Association for Multicultural Education. She has been awarded many grants and scholarships recognizing her community engaged work such as the Albert Schweitzer fellowship, Barbara & Sheldon Pinchuk Arts Community Outreach Grant and the Michael B. Salwen Scholarship.

Koo received her Ph.D. in arts administration, education and policy from Ohio State University, specializing in art education, her M.A. in art education from the University of Florida and her M.F.A. and B.F.A. in painting from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea.

Question: What are you most looking forward to here at Fresno State?

Answer: I am truly excited to be able to work with diverse students who are eager to learn!

Q: Can you tell me how you became involved in your specialty area?

A: I enjoy working with other people through art. Since I was young, I played with art materials, putting paints on my hands and feet. I grew up as an artist, art teacher and art advocate because I have experienced the benefit and joy of art. I majored in painting in my undergraduate and graduate years, and taught PK-12 students in multiple settings. Learning about how to perceive ourselves, communities and societies through art opens our eyes to another realm of possibilities, which I enthusiastically promote in my career!

Q: What are you reading?

A: Tom Anderson and Melody Milbrandt’s “Art for Life.”

Q: What is a book you think everyone should read?

A: John Dewey’s “Art as Experience.”

Q: When are your office hours?

A: Mondays 3-5 p.m. and Tuesdays 5-6 p.m.