Artist looks back on 30 years
By Rachelle Milbank
After 30 years in the classroom, the next step for UNCP Professor Ralph Steeds is to get lost in his own art.
As a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and resident of Red Springs, Steeds teaches printmaking, painting and drawing. He begins his two-year phased retirement after dedicating 30 years of talent and hard work to the art and American Indian studies programs.
An artist first, Steeds also enjoys teaching because he can help students practice his/ her craft while mastering his own. Steeds decided that teaching art was a way to pass on his knowledge and have the university's studios at his fingertips.
"I couldn't afford a press if I didn't work for a university," Steeds said.
History will tell if Steeds is a good artist. He has already been a part of six major museums.
His accomplishments have been recognized both nationally and internationally.
"I am proud to be a part of Tyler's permanent collection at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa.," Steeds said. "I have also made it into a show where only six prints from North American men were chosen."
He is referring to the 12th Space International Print Biennial at Sungkok Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea.
Steeds noted he always attributes UNCP to all of his works that have made it into shows. This kind of generosity landed him the Dial Award for Creative work in 1992.
Keith Anderson, a senior and three-year student of Steeds said, "Steeds is one of the finest artists I have ever met and through him I have learned my craft."
During his tenure at UNCP, Steeds built a very prominent printmaking studio that is known throughout other universities. After his final goodbye, he wants to leave behind the impression of being a good teacher. He will miss his students and colleagues but says he will still visit the studio.
In the coming year Steeds will be looking forward to having a print that will be recognized in April 2006 at the Southern Graphics Council Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The title of the exhibition is called "Androdexterous Portfolio." It consists of all male artists and explores the concepts of being male, the genetics of males and male relationships. The SGC is the largest printmaking organization in the United States and includes numerous international artist and printmaker representatives.
In two years Steeds will walk down the Locklear Hall corridor for the last time, and leave behind 32 years of creativity and hard work. Steeds will forever be part of the history of the UNCP Art Department.