This issue of the Exchange features Barbara Bensur, associate professor of art and design at Millersville. She has been with the University for 14 years.
Q: What courses do you teach?
A: I teach “Fundamentals of Studio Art,” “Introduction to Art Education” and “Art and Culture.”
Q: Which is your favorite?
A: Currently, my favorite is “Art and Culture.”
Q: Where did you go to college? What degree(s) did you earn?
A: I went to Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., for my bachelor’s degree in art and University of Maryland for my master’s and Ph.D. in education curriculum and instruction.
Q: Have you always been artistic? Does the artistic gene run in the family?
A: I like to think I have always been an artist. When I was a little girl my grandmother had a secretary and in the top drawer was a red box of crayons and a coloring book and when I spent the night with her I got to color in the book. With the exception of me, no one in my family has perused a career but I think in a lot of ways we were an artistic family.
Q: What’s the most exciting place art has taken you?
A: Egypt. I was there four years ago and it was exciting to be walking on the same ground that pharaohs from long ago walked. I stayed at a hotel in Cairo that I could I see the Pyramids of Giza from the veranda.
Q: How do you inspire your students to be passionate about the arts?
A: I have always had a deep connection with art, making art, looking at art and visiting museums and I think the students pick up on my enthusiasm and begin to see art through my eyes and share my passion for it.
Q: How does Millersville University’s art and design program prepare students for their future endeavors?
A: The department offers in-depth studies in art making, art history and art education. Our faculty are recognized regionally, in the state, and nationally for their art and contributions to research in art education. The unparalleled preparation our students receive puts them ahead of their peers in any number of job opportunities and admission to graduate schools. Many of our graduates have gone on to become artists and art educators who themselves have had their work published and nationally recognized.
Q: Is it fair to ask if you have a favorite artist? What about a favorite piece of artwork?
A: That is a difficult question because my artwork is very non-objective, focusing primarily on the use of color, repetition, rhythm and movement so I would say that Wassily Kandinsky is my favorite and “Composition IV” is my favorite piece of his work. It is bright, lyrical, full of movement and unexpected bursts of color. Everything seems to be moving around, swinging and swaying to an unknown rhythm and beat.
Q: If you could visit any art museum in the world which would it be? Why?
A: The Louvre. I haven’t been there yet, and I would love to the see the Mona Lisa and just to stand among some of the greatest art in the world.
Q: What’s one thing most people on campus don’t know about you?
A: That I am the only girl in my family and I have four brothers who tortured my boyfriend relentlessly but not enough to keep him away because eventually I married him.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: In Erie, Pa.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone in the world (past or present), who would it be? Why?
A: I would travel back in time to 17th century Italy and have dinner with Artemisia Gentileschi because she was a recognized woman painter not readily accepted by patrons or the male dominated artistic community. Her best-known image, Judith Beheading Holofernes, shows the decapitation of Holofernes, a scene of horrific struggle and blood-letting. The extreme contrast in the image makes the viewer feel like you are right there witnessing two women taking down a powerful, ruthless Holofernes.
Q: What was your favorite TV show as a kid?
A: Bonanza. Little Joe (Michael Landon) was my favorite character; he was cute and rode a really cool horse. It was one of the first shows on TV in color. It came on after the Wonderful World of Disney (which was also one of the few shows in color).
Q: What do you do to relax?
A: Spending time with my three grandchildren, who are 5 years old, 18 months and 15 months. They say and do the funniest things that keep us all wondering what will happen next.
Q: Are you a Mac person or a PC person?