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WKU welcomes new art instructor

Photo provided by Nellie Lutzwolf

The WKU Department of Art & Design has welcomed Nellie Lutzwolf, a new part-time instructor, who teaches two sections of ART 140: Drawing, as her first year teaching at WKU. 

Although she is new to the university, Lutzwolf previously taught at other universities and school systems.

“I’ve taught at the University of Idaho, North Idaho College, and was an Art Teacher at Clark Fork Jr-Sr High School for five years,” Lutzwolf said.


After moving to Bowling Green, Lutzwolf wanted to connect with the artist community in the city, having moved from a “small resort town” in Idaho.

“I felt the best way to connect was through WKU,” Lutzwolf said. “I had also been away from the classroom for four years and I missed teaching, (and) specifically the connections made with students.”

Lutzwolf received her BFA/BA in Drawing from the University of Montana, along with a minor in Art History and Art Criticism, and her MFA from the University of Idaho, having found the experience “challenging but rewarding.” 

While at the University of Montana, Lutzwolf volunteered at the front desk of the Missoula Art Museum. 

“At the University of Montana, you couldn’t just be a BFA student,” Lutzwolf said. “There was a selection process, portfolio review, and the entire faculty had to sign off on your acceptance into the program. You had to create a body of work with a common conceptual thread, demonstrate technical ability, and present your work professionally so faculty could assess your work in person.”

Lutzwolf said the experience was “intense” and that she had found an interest of the idea of “capture,” and that her work could act as a reaction to things that she felt had held her back.

“In this escapism, my mixed media drawings turned towards whimsy with a slightly dark underbelly,” Lutzwolf said. 

While at the University of Idaho, Lutzwolf’s MFA program allowed her to research and build her own work, while allowing her to be an educator. 

Lutzwolf acted as the instructor for two classes, a teaching assistant and a Sculpture Lab Technician, while interning as a Museum Curator at Eastern Washington University.

“(At my MFA exhibition,) I did a large installation accompanied by two sculptural pieces,” Lutzwolf said. “Conceptually, my work evolved slightly from previous interests. My intention became more focused on autonomy from the perceptions that make me feel captured; instead of using art for a means to escape I used the artistic process to manifest and celebrate change.”

Now at WKU, Lutzwolf hopes to bring “community outreach” to her students and provide them with artistic opportunities within the larger Bowling Green community.

“This semester my students will be creating a collaborative mural at the Charlie Miller Butterfly Habitat at Lost River Cave Nature Park,” Lutzwolf said.

Lutzwolf had approached Lost River Cave for a “mutually beneficial partnership” to allow her students to create the mural. 

“I’m grateful they jumped at the opportunity,” Lutzwolf said. “They’re incredible people; their openness to ideas and support have made them a dream to work with. Sometimes the best opportunities are those you create for yourself.”

Lutzwolf said that she wanted to give her students a “practical experience,” allowing them to understand what tackling an art commission is like. 

“They will have a great project to put on their resume, have their work available to view for a larger public audience, and contribute to an important cause for a local organization,” Lutzwolf said. “I also hope they can see that when you are an artist or designer, you don’t have to be an island. When you team up with people with similar goals and interests the result can be very rewarding. There’s also no shame in asking for what you want.”

Already, two murals have been completed for the residency, with the Butterfly Habitat mural being in its initial stages, consisting of surface preparation on the facade, while students draw out the butterflies, Lutzwolf said. 

“It’s a semester-long project,” Lutzwolf said. “The installation of the student butterflies will likely happen by the beginning of December, weather permitting.” 

Lutzwolf said that she hopes students are able to obtain a new way of seeing the world and engaging with it with “creative vigor,” with anticipation that students will no longer be afraid to make mistakes. 

“(Students should expect) someone who cares about them as individuals and as future professionals,” Lutzwolf said. “In the class they should expect to be challenged technically and conceptually, both in drawing and in the creative process in general.” 

Jazlyn Buchanan, a freshman majoring in studio art, is one of the students currently taking ART 140 with Lutzwolf. 

“She seems really cool so far,” Buchanan said. “She seems really chill and relaxed but also (stern), and very insightful in what she teaches.”

Suchita Tipirneni, a student with Gatton Academy, shares Buchanan’s sentiment on Lutzwolf. 

“I think that she’s a pretty nice and welcoming person,” Tipirneni said. “When I initially read the art syllabus, I was kind of scared, because I’m a Gatton student, so I mainly take STEM classes. (…) She’s definitely very welcoming and she’ll work with you if you need help.”

Buchanan said that, so far, the class is, “super awesome,” despite the three hour long classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. 

“She knows what she’s talking about, and she always goes around with everybody, trying to get some one-on-one time when we’re doing our practice sketches,” Buchanan said. 

Class time starts with some time to sketch, before moving to teaching different topics, techniques and concepts each day, Buchanan said. 

“It is pretty long, but I’m going to be honest, it doesn’t usually feel like three hours,” Tipirneni said. 

Tipirneni said that, with newer subjects, Lutzwolf will demonstrate it with everyone, and explain it so the students can understand it. 

“I think the fact that we also have to repeat the motions, or we also have to practice all the time, it really helps,” Tipirneni said. “She’s usually very clear and is able to explain it even if we have questions.” 

Buchanan said that for the mural, students are given aluminum square sheets to cut out, and paint a butterfly native to Kentucky to be placed on the mural. 

“I think it’s been going really good,” Buchanan said. “She’s really good at spacing it out over class periods, so that it’s more interesting so we’re not doing the same thing every single time. It’s going really well and it’s a lot of fun.” 

Along with teaching the fundamentals of art, Buchanan said Lutzwolf also presents students with opportunities to get involved in the art community in Bowling Green. 

Not being an art major, Tipirneni had been placed on a waitlist for the class, and had not initially been enrolled in the class. At the beginning of the semester, she was enrolled after the first week of class. 

“She gave me a detailed list of what I needed to do, how I needed to catch up, and she’s definitely a kind and reassuring person,” Tipirneni said. “(…) She’s overall a really nice person. You could talk to her and feel better afterwards.” 

Tipirneni said that Lutzwolf is very kind and understanding, and willing to work with students, even if they are falling behind in class. 

“She tries her best to help out in any way she can,” Buchanan said. “(…) She takes a lot of one-on-one time with everybody, I think she tries to talk to everybody at least once in a class period. She checks in and she’s really good at answering questions; she’s really awesome.”

News Reporter Damon Stone can be reached at [email protected].

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