New art teacher brings professional and personal success to Chico State

Steven Durow was a fifth grader when an artwork shook his world for the first time.

Squeezed into an 8- and 9-year-old chair, a teacher showed laminated images of famous artworks to the class seated on the floor at his feet, and discussed each piece, its artist, and the techniques used to create the work.

“The teacher then held up Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’ – I was in awe and thought, ‘I want to do that when I grow up,'” Durow recalled.

Durow admits that decades later he is still struck by the painting and finds it difficult to articulate how and why the piece touched him then and why it still touches him now.

“So much happens in just one square inch of this piece. Van Gogh has a brushstroke with six colors in it – you can see them – and I have no idea how he did it. Whether you zoom out or in, there’s just so much happening,” he said. “It’s taken me years and years and years to see ‘Starry Night’ in person – and I still react to it the same way. Regarding the explanation of why that is? I still can’t.”

Outdoor works like “Gerado” give Durow the opportunity to work with different materials with fewer space constraints.

Durow will bring this wonder to Chico State this fall, along with a wealth of art knowledge and expert analysis, when he begins teaching classes, including glassblowing, in the Department of Art and Art History. After spending the past nine years as an associate professor of art at Salisbury University in Maryland, Durow said the idea of ​​teaching in California was extremely appealing to him – both because of the natural beauty of the university’s surroundings and its Arts and Culture Humanities Building.

“Chico State has a new glass factory and it’s really amazing,” he said. “It shows me that the university is investing in the glass program and the arts program overall, which is very important to me.”

Durow is an accomplished artist himself. From exterior and interior works to architectural creations, his work has been part of six solo exhibitions, he has credit for more than 50 selected exhibitions and commissioned art installations nationwide, and he has appeared in nearly 30 publications since 1998.

After graduating from Anderson University in 1998, he earned his Master of Fine Arts from Tulane University, where he majored in large-scale sculpture. His work ranges from mixing bowl sized pieces and dozens of individual pieces as part of larger indoor exhibitions to a 300 foot installation on a beach in Key West, Florida. And although his specialty is glass, he incorporates other materials into his exhibits, such as metals and clay. Durow said his approach to working with diverse materials is consistent with the viewer’s relationship with his artworks.

“The abstract nature of my work is the result of this necessary back and forth with different and diverse materials and the reduction of a complex and personal narrative to a form that can be embraced by a wide audience,” he said. “I want the work I create to be a conversation with the viewer, just as creating the work is a dialogue with the material.”

Tracy Butts, dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, said it’s more than just filling a need. It was an incredible opportunity.

Durow’s “Crescent” public art collection was inspired by his experiences living in New Orleans: “During the day, the cast glass elements reflect, direct, and absorb the sun, gaining its dynamic and changing character, while at night the work is illuminated from within, reflecting theirs.” expresses one’s own inner energy.”

“College is about exploration, finding out who you are, what interests you, what enriches you, what fuels your passion, what makes you happy,” said Butts. “We were looking for someone who could innovate the curriculum, expand the program and contribute to our university-wide effort to raise the profile of the arts and humanities on our campus and beyond – and I’m confident we have that person in Steven have found.”

As an undergraduate art student, Durow was driven by curiosity and a love of experimentation, and benefited from the encouragement and mentorship of his faculty. These same values ​​guide him as he teaches his own students, regardless of what material they work with, along with a rigorous and exploratory curriculum.

“At the beginning level, students learn fundamental skills – how to use tools and materials safely and manipulate them in a controlled manner. In middle school, I teach a variety of technique-based assignments because I want students to be able to follow what they have connected to,” he said. “In the senior classes it becomes essentially self-study and I teach 15 self-study there because everyone has their own thing they want to do.”

For more than 20 years his work has been featured in exhibitions and magazines across the country – including designing the cover of sculpture Becoming a magazine or a household name – Durow said the days of those kinds of high ambitions are behind him as he takes a more balanced approach to his work.

“As I got older, I realized that being present in the moment and being able to live a creative life is a mark of a long career in art,” he said. “Teaching is also an important part of my creative life – being able to inspire and motivate the next generation of artists is a huge responsibility and the best legacy I can hope for.”

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