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Joslyn, Colvin-Woodruff open Faculty Author Series

October 2, 2009
 colvin-woodruff and joslyn presenting
 Kaersten Colvin-Woodruff (left) and Cathie Joslyn during their presentation.

Art department faculty members Cathie Joslyn and Kaersten Colvin-Woodruff presented "Art Inspired by Travel and Research" as the opening program in the 2009-10 Clarion University Faculty Author Series.
Both have traveled extensively to complete art research, most recently together on a trip to Ghana in Africa.

"A writer friend once said that when you live in a foreign country, you become a different person, and I find that to be especially true if you're working in a foreign language," said Joslyn who works in textiles. "This experience abroad naturally influences the art, which is an expression of who the artist is."

She reviewed her experiences in Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, during summers, sabbaticals, and a Fulbright Scholarship. To prepare for the Latin American work, Joslyn participated in numerous Spanish classes at Clarion University taught by Dr. Vincent Spina, professor of modern languages. She also said her early interest in the Andes was influenced by a book that can be found in Clarion University's Carlson Library, "Secret of the Andes," which she read while in elementary school in Kansas.

Joslyn's Fulbright trip resulted in an international art project between Clarion and Peru, making printed cloth murals for Carlson Library and the Thomas Jefferson Institute in Arequipa, Peru. It also inspired her art exhibit "Luminous Threads" and brought her many art lecture opportunities. Her Power Point presentation featured her work in fabric art, most recently inspired by travel to Ghana with Colvin-Woodruff.

Joslyn joined the Clarion University faculty in 1979. She received her B.A. from Colby College and M.F.A. from Indiana University Bloomington.

A sculptor specializing in assemblages, Colvin-Woodruff explained her art background, how travel has inspired her art, and what took both her and Joslyn on a trip to Ghana last year.

Described her artwork she said, "Process and material have always been central to the themes and meanings of my art. The processes involved have usually been repetitive and attending to minute detail. While some artists-particularly those who want to convey a message-choose materials that are 'transparent' in the sense of not getting in the way of the message, my materials, whether natural substances or artifacts, typically carry a meaning of their own to the work. Any resulting meaning in a piece is not always literal or narrative, but more evocative, metaphoric or lyrical. Attending to the inherent qualities of the material in the process of making also at times creates surprises for me and determines the final form of the pieces."

Her first international art experience was in 1992 when she spent five weeks in Europe studying "defunct spaces," which once had a use but are no longer in use. Her studies of genealogy led her to the knowledge that she was a descendent of a mixed race community that historians call tri-racial isolates, many groups of which still exist in the U.S. Colvin-Woodruff describes the link between her genealogy studies and her artwork by saying, "In conjunction with genealogy, the context of my artwork focuses on the diversity between, and the overlapping of, particular traditions, home remedies, and daily and spiritual rituals that resulted from centuries of cultural blending between the original races germane to these mixed ancestry communities of people during the colonial period in United States."

This knowledge helped prompt her trip with Joslyn to Ghana at the urging of former student Jason Roberts, who had completed an internship at an arts center in Ghana.

Colvin-Woodruff joined the Clarion University faculty in 1994. She received her B.F.A. from State University of New York at Purchase and M.F.A. from Arizona State University.

The goal of the Faculty Author Seminar Series is to establish a forum for faculty to share their scholarly activities with the university campus community and provides an opportunity to foster collegial relationships among different academic disciplines.

Upcoming during Fall 2009 are: Dr. Vickie Harry, "Researching Inquiry-based Science Initiatives in International Schools," Wednesday, Oct. 7, and Dr. Sandra Trejos, Monday, Nov. 11. The programs begin at 12:15 p.m. with a light lunch served at noon.

The Faculty Affairs Committee of Faculty Senate in cooperation with the University Libraries sponsors the series. The Clarion University-Wide Faculty Development Committee's Presidential Advancement Award funds this initiative. For further information, contact

Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.


Last Updated 1/11/21