Chair and Associate Professor of Art
As an artist, conformity is not one of Kathy Strause’s virtues. “Conforming is going to be the same thing you’ve seen over and over,” she said. “It’s my job to engage the public in a way where they can think about things differently.”
Strause didn’t conform to the traditional path to a higher education, waiting until she was 22 before starting college. The “starving artist” waited tables and even drove an 18-wheeler before she decided to pursue a degree in art.
She worked as an artist for about 10 years after earning her graduate degree before teaching as an adjunct professor, and soon became artist in residence at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Strause was hired by Henderson in 2007 and immediately became chair of the art department.
“When I arrived at Henderson, I was so surprised how I could really get to know the students,” she said. “In addition to their studies, we teach them life skills – how to show up on time, how to be respectable and professional.”
Strause said Henderson’s art majors are well versed in all aspects of studio art.
“Our students receive a B.F.A. (bachelor of fine arts) which is a more advanced degree compared to a B.A.,” she said. “With a B.F.A. in studio art, you are preparing to be a professional artist or go on and get your terminal degree. It’s such a competitive market you have to really know what you’re doing.”
Strause’s personal painting projects focus on hunger and nutrition. “I feel like we should be able to feed everybody,” she said. “I guess you could call my work social activism.”
Her last body of work featured home demonstration agents of the 20th Century. “It was about these women working so hard, teaching nutrition and health, and changing society,” she said.
Strause emphasizes design elements and principles when teaching painting. “I give my students the ability to talk about their work, and to approach a painting and compose it like a piece of music,” she said. “Art is not as random as most people think it is.”
Degree and School:
MFA from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Compositions with found photographs and oil painting
Women's perspective through art
Topics of gender, class and a genuine, shared existence
I've been at Henderson since: