A 12-year veteran of the Western Carolina University faculty who has conducted research in 21 countries is the new director of WCU’s School of Art and Design.
The appointment of Erin Tapley to that position was announced recently by George Brown, dean of WCU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts. Tapley began her new duties in the School of Art and Design on July 1.
Tapley earned her master of fine arts degree in printmaking and drawing at the University of Alabama and went on to receive her doctorate at the University of Iowa, where she completed her thesis on the topic “Cross-cultural Teaching Presentations in Art.” She joined the WCU art faculty in 2005 after serving as an associate professor of art education for five years at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
At WCU, Tapley was promoted from associate professor to full professor of art education in 2013, and she has taught and coordinated undergraduate and graduate art education programs, in addition to designing and teaching nine new courses. Over the years, she has lead therapeutic art classes for atypical populations and has given art-related presentations at more than a dozen public schools across the region. As an artist, she had three solo national exhibitions in 2016 that featured her work involving paper marbling on fiber.
“I am extremely excited about Erin Tapley stepping up into the leadership role in our School of Art and Design,” Brown said. “A trusted colleague among the faculty, she is an active artist, a dynamic educator and the recipient of a Fulbright grant, four National Endowment for the Humanities grants, a Macdowell Colony grant, a Teacher Incentive Grant from the National Art Education Association and, most recently, an internal grant from the Office of the Provost to seek funding for art and conceptual gardens at national levels.
“While Dr. Tapley has conducted sponsored research on five continents, her last decade has been focused on regional engagement in Western North Carolina. She will prove to be a tremendous member of our college’s leadership team,” Brown said.
The School of Art and Design is the largest school within the College of Fine and Performing Arts, which also includes the School of Music and School of Stage and Screen. The School of Art and Design offers three graduate degrees, including the terminal degree in studio art – the master of fine arts, in addition to programs in studio art, graphic design, interior design and art education.
Tapley said one of her goals as school director is “to champion the many outstanding efforts of our faculty and students that often go unnoticed because we’re so busy in ongoing endeavors.”
“For example, in this past year, half of our faculty traveled abroad for creative research, and our students have participated in more than two dozen juried shows or competitions,” she said. “Our faculty genuinely care about our students, who in turn challenge themselves to fuse a contemporary liberal education with skilled art production.”
Others goals include increasing the diversity of the school’s enrolled students, providing more opportunities for students to travel to urban art centers and international destinations, extending the stay on campus for visiting artists, gaining more space for design-based programs, and “realization of projects that connect our wildly gorgeous location with our visual production,” Tapley said.
For more information about the School of Art and Design, visit the website artanddesign.wcu.edu or call 828-227-7210.