There are two new faces in the School of Visual Art and Design: Elizabeth Pontvik and Jesse Rademacher. The new assistant professors of fine arts and animation respectively, joined Southern this year. Both former students themselves, they are now bringing their experience as artists to current art students.
Elizabeth Pontvik credits John Williams, former dean of the School of Visual Art and Design, with her desire to join the art department’s staff. He told her of the open position when she completed her M.F.A. in Memphis.
“He was my mentor when I was an art major here at Southern,” says Pontvik. “I’m so glad he told me about the opportunity to teach here, because I’ve really enjoyed being around learning. It’s great seeing the students get excited when they see what they’re capable of, and what’s possible in art.”
Before coming to Southern, Pontvik taught drawing at Villa Aurora, the Italian Adventist College in Florence. While there, she was able to combine her love of the Italian language with her passion for art by teaching art.
“It was particularly fun to teach art there, because of all the art that was available for my students to observe such a short distance away, in Florence,” says Pontvik.
Now at Southern, Pontvik teaches Painting I-IV and Drawing I, and helps her students build focus and control needed to draw and paint accurately. Her attention to detail and skillful teaching style is greatly appreciated among her students.
“The best thing I’ve learned from Ms. Pontvik is that you’ve got to start with the basics,” says Cassidy Stone, junior animation major. “She’s been very helpful, and is always available during class for thoughts on how to make things better.”
“Creating art requires lots of discipline, but it’s very rewarding,” says Pontvik.
Jesse Rademacher, assistant professor of animation, agrees. His office, with its doorways and walls covered in cartoon sketches, is a testament to his passion for animation. As a child he was fascinated with cartoons and electronic games, and when he began college, his early enthusiasms led him to major in computer science and animation at Southern.
After graduating, Rademacher was a technical director at Visual Concepts/Take Two, a games software company. He also worked as a match move artist, inserting computer graphics into live-action footage for several popular movies.
Now, after eight years in the animation industry, Rademacher is back at Southern teaching Drawing in Motion, Effects for Animators, and Collaborative Studios.
“I like to teach,” says Rademacher. “I have a broad range of interests, and the students are so creative and energetic.” In the future, he plans to add new, advanced animation courses, such as Character Rigging, Pipeline Scripting, and a class focused on “simulating real world phenomena such as explosions, fluids, hair, and cloth.”
“He really knows his stuff, since he’s worked in the industry for a while” says Stone, who has taken classes from both Rademacher and Pontvik. “Working with him is fun, too, because he’s a very approachable and friendly guy.”
Above all, Rademacher hopes that his students learn to be passionate about whatever they decide to do. “You’ve got to be passionate about something,” he says. “It helps you get through tough times, when your work is especially challenging.”