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WOU Creative Arts in the News

WOU dancers step out of the theater

October 29, 2020 |Audrey Caro| Polk County Itemizer Observer

A site-specific dance performance event, sponsored by the WOU Dance Department, featuring advanced choreography students. Recorded 10/29/20.


Fall 2020 | Many Hats Collaboration

a co-production with Portland Playhouse. Inspired by recent (and not so recent) events, Matter follows the quest of one young Black man looking to find answers to police brutality and gun violence. Determined to save Black lives, he seeks to sort out the noise of opposing viewpoints and social division with a methodical examination of facts. As his theatrical investigation uncovers patterns of senseless violence and clues lead him to the likelihood of his own death, the reality and tragedy of lives lost begins to truly hit home.

Peter and the Starcatcher

June 8, 2020 | Ted deChatelet | WOU Theatre Department

When the cast and crew found out that the spring production would not make it stage they kept working with the text to grow and learn as actors. Get a sneak peek at what the process was like with these interviews from the students.


June 17, 2020 | Cheyan Swan | Today at WOU

Kayli Smith is an art major with a concentration in ceramics, as well as a minor in art history. Her hometown is Dallas, Ore. As a 2020 graduate, we interviewed Smith about her experience at WOU and her future plans.

Ethnomusicology and Alchemy

April 2020 | Diane Baxter | American Music Teacher

“Music is alchemy. It has the ability o profoundly change our perceptions of and interactions of the world.”


April 8, 2020 | Kristine Thomas | Today at WOU

The late Alfred “Fred” Maurice’s curiosity and desire to see students succeed inspired him to establish a challenge for Western Oregon University students.

Cannon Gallery — a platform for stunning faculty work

Nov 22, 2019 | Never Retallack| Western Howl

Cannon Gallery — Western’s very own art exhibit within Campbell Hall, opened its biennial production of faculty art on Nov. 13. The exhibition will be open until Dec. 13 and holds works from the following: Jen Bracy, Clay Dunklin, Jodie Garrison, Mary Harden, Rebecca McCannell, Peter Hoffecker Mejia, Sung Eun Park, Gregory Poulin, Daniel Tankersley, Diane Tarter, Garima Thakur and Jen Vaughn. 

Review: World Dance Cultures: From Ritual to Spectacle

July 1, 2019 | Tim Cowart | Journal of Dance Education

“I have been teaching a course entitled Dance in World Cultures for nearly 15 years, and until now, I have had great difficulty finding any one textbook that would provide a thorough analysis of non-Western dance traditions appropriate for an undergraduate survey course…”

Two WOU Ensembles Named Finalists for Prestigious Awards


August 5, 2020 | Erin Worley| Today at WOU

Western Oregon University is home to many talented musicians. With 14 different ensembles, WOU is bursting with musical performers from many different backgrounds, all showcasing their unique talents. Recently, two of these ensembles were awarded as finalists in prestigious categories: Western Oregon University Chamber Singers was chosen as a finalist for the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music, and Western Oregon Voices was chosen as a finalist for the American Prize in Choral Performance. This is the first time either ensemble has been named a finalist in their respective categories. 

New Etsy Shop with Eclectic Mix of Art

Summer 2020 | Jen Bracy | WOU Art & Design Department

During the isolated days of Spring and Summer Professor Jen Bracy has been creating all sorts of arts and crafts. Jen has made this art available on Etsy and is excited to see what opportunities this platform reveals! The shop features digital and fine arts of all kinds.

Dance Where You Are

June 1, 2020 | Corrie Cowart| WOU Dance Department

Choreography and performance by students of the D 352 Dance Composition II class at Western Oregon University. Due to the global pandemic in 2020, this course was taught remotely. Students worked on composition assignments from their homes.


Read an interview to learn how the choir department has adapted

April 21, 2020 | Never Retallack | Western Howl

During this time where students’ daily lives are being greatly affected, read this interview with Tonya Bradley —  a junior at Western majoring in Education — to find out how her experience with choir in the music department has changed.

Artist Spotlight on Abi Lowther, aspiring tattoo artist

Feb 10, 2020 | Never Retallack| Western Howl

Abi Lowther’s love for art was ignited as a first-year in high school when she took an introduction to drawing class and realized that she had a natural talent. From there, she started to pursue art more seriously; as a sophomore at Western, she is currently majoring in Art and Design.

Western dancer and first-time choreographer gets involved in the arts community through an award-winning rock musical

Nov 17, 2019 | Caity Healy | Western Howl

With WOU’s Creative Arts Division as robust and successful as it is, with several programs and departments, students involved often choose to get involved in the arts in their community beyond the ways they are offered on campus. One such student is Noah Nieves Driver. 

BFA graduates put their hard work on display

June 7, 2019 | Chrys Weedon | Western Howl

As the school year winds to a close, end of the year events are keeping graduating seniors busy. The next event of the year is a new exhibit in the Cannon Gallery of Art featuring the artwork of three Bachelor of Fine Arts students who will be graduating on June 15, 2019.


Jan 23, 2013 | Tim Cowart|

In the most recent performance in the music department’s busy spring schedule, the brass and guitar ensembles showed off their skills developed during the past school year. In a hybrid performance on May 28, the two groups played three songs each.

Seven Strategies for Interpreting Articulation in Your Big Band

Spring 2020 | Dr. Keith Karns | Oregon Music Educators

“…Articulation is one of the most expressive elements in music. It is one of the main ways we communicate style and energy to our audience…”


May 26, 2020 | Erin Worley | Today at WOU

Eva Batenhorst will be graduating this spring, with a double major in Biology and Dance, and a minor in Physical Science. Eva is from Eugene, Oregon, and has participated in many extra-curriculars during her time at WOU, including the Honors program, RHA, and PLUS team.

Theater department welcomes Western to “Urinetown” with winter production

Mar 8, 2020 | Never Retallack | Western Howl

“Urinetown,” — a satirical musical, opened at Western on Feb. 28 with Michael Phillips as the director. The play was entertaining and interactive, and the opening act had about two minutes of uninterrupted silence while the actors laid on the ground, “asleep.” This made many audience members giggle nervously as the silence drew out. Laughter was a key element of the show. 

CWU students learn the art of West African Dance

Feb 3, 2020 | Rodney Harwood| Daily Record News

ELLENSBURG, WA – “The rhythm of the drum drove the spirit of the motion, turning loose far more than expression through performance… Western Oregon University director of dance Darryl Thomas has toured the world as a dancer and artistic collaborator in the world-renowned Pilbolus Dance Theatre, winning an Emmy for his 1996 Kennedy Center performance of the Pilbolus work “Untitled.””

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ takes stage at Rice

Nov 13, 2019 | Audrey Caro | Polk County Itemizer Observer

MONMOUTH — The latest effort at Western Oregon University’s theater pulls back the curtain on what it was like to put on a radio play.

Music department students shine in recital

June 7, 2019 | Chrys Weedon | Western Howl

In the most recent performance in the music department’s busy spring schedule, the brass and guitar ensembles showed off their skills developed during the past school year. In a hybrid performance on May 28, the two groups played three songs each.

The November Project

Fall 2020 | Many Hats Collaboration

A private emergency

A community devised, site-specific dance film

Debuting January 2021 with the Fertile Ground Festival 2021

In the three weeks following the election, WOU Theatre Faculty Member Jessica Wallenfels and Alumni Janelle Rae (’17) along with 20+ female and nonbinary artists will create short dance expressions of their experiences of isolation, personal agency and confronting the unknown at a time of peak 2020 tumult. Initially inspired by Many Hats’ 2007 piece REST ROOM, this piece continues our inquiry into the issues of identity and intimacy that occur in the privacy of bathrooms, relocated from a public space to the intimacy of our own homes.

WOU Professor's art work featured in two national Exhibitions

Summer, 2020 | Becca McCannell | WOU Art & Design Department

Political Discord 2020, at Las Laguna Gallery in Laguna Beach, CA

Politically Charged, Blue Line Arts, Oct. 2 – Nov. 14, Roseville, CA

52nd Annual Juried Online Student Art & Design Exhibition

June 1, 2020 | WOU Art Department

The Annual Student Art Show has gone virtual this year but our student work is just as incredible. If you have any questions contact Gallery Coordinator Paula Booth (

A 'Strong And Resounding' New Symphony, Recorded By Kansas Musicians, Transcends Dire Situations

May 23, 2020 | C.J. Janovy | KCUR 89.3 NPR in Kansas City

The composer is Kevin Walczyk, a professor of music at Western Oregon University, who uses a sort of musical coding system to tell complex stories through music.

After extensive historical research, Walczyk spells out names and phrases and then uses his cyphering system — he calls it “transformation of alphanumeric information into musical pitch information” — to create melody.

Cumulative Skies, Deep Soils at Phosphor Project Space uses art to delve into a very large mushroom

Mar 4, 2020 | Amanda Waltz| Pittsburgh City Paper

In trying to guess the largest organism on Earth, the answers would probably range anywhere from the nearly 100-foot long blue whale to the California coastal redwood tree, which can grow to over 360 feet tall. But the correct response is neither animal not plant — it’s a mushroom, the honey fungus, to be exact.”

Spotlighting Western artist Tonya Bradley: Vocalist and violinist

Dec 3, 2019 | Never Retallack  |  Western Howl 

Interested in hearing about a fellow classmate and a choir member here at Western? Look no further than this Q&A to get to know Tonya Bradley, a junior and vocalist at Western.

Get to know Associate Professor Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner

Oct 13, 2019 | Never Retallack| Western Howl

Get to know Associate Professor Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner and learn about her beliefs on social justice in relation to dance.


Stuck in “Middletown” with you

June 7, 2019 | Chrys Weedon| Western Howl

Small towns in America are often romanticized for their character, their whimsy or their nostalgia. But, often behind this rose-tinted picture is the harsh reality that Small Town, USA is often not as idyllic as it may seem.

Les Watanabe on Alvin Ailey, Lar Lubovitch, Donald McKayle and his life in dance

Jan 20, 2017 | Jamuna Chiarini | Oregon Artswatch

At 2 and 7:30 pm on Saturday, January 21, Laura Stilwell, Felice Moskowitz, Terry Brock and Emma Mochnick will dance Les Watanabe’s Love Songs, part of Fertile Ground’s Groovin’ Greenhouse, hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre.


Fall 2020 | Oresman Gallery

Erin Mallea and [WOU faculty member] Jen Vaughn’s work Cumulative Skies, Deep Soils is a rhizomatic installation of sounds, crystallizing spills, meteorites and mycelium. First displayed in early March 2020, immediately preceding the pandemic, the work addresses themes that have taken on new relevance in the intervening months — alienation, separation, and connection to the natural world and one another.

Spring Dance On Pause

May 25, 2020 | Tim Cowart| WOU Dance Department

For over 40 years the Dance Program at Western Oregon University has produced a performance of faculty, guest artist, and student choreography. This culminating event is called the Spring Dance Concert. In 2020, the dance concert was canceled due to the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic. This film is dedicated to the talented students and faculty members who worked for several months pouring their time, effort, and artistry into this concert. This film is a window into their creative process. Their effort is not forgotten.

Song of the Wild: Q&A and Guided Meditation with Clay Dunklin

May 18, 2020 | IA &A at Hillyer

“Your exhibition at Hillyer, Song of the Wild, was a video installation about notions of the body, consciousness, and performance. Tell us a little bit about that work….”

The West Of Us show camaraderie in Smith Hall

Feb 26, 2020 | Sean Martinez | Western Howl

On Feb. 26, The West Of Us held their Winter Term Acapella Concert in Smith Hall, proving once again that instruments are not needed to make music. When the lights dimmed and the pitch pipe sounded off, The West Of Us kept the audience engaged as everyone listened to some well-known songs with unique twists. .

Student actors performed with passion in the production of “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Nov 24, 2019 | Never Retallack | Western Howl

Directed by one of Western’s theater faculty members, Professor Kent Neely, comes “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.” This classic Christmas tale is based on a short story called, “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern published in 1943. Later on, it became a film, and then adapted into a play — Western’s performance is based off Joe Landry’s adaptation of the screenplay.

Questions, questions - Talking about Art Friday

August 23, 2019 | Joel Zak, Becca McCannell, John VanDreal, Jon Naylor, Jason Barrier | KMUZ community Radio

Join a panel of local artists  and educators as we discuss these topics and many more.. Is art necessary? Art as a business? Where is visual art going? Changing as an artist? What motivates an artist?

Daniel Sampson’s capstone presentation on “Kaleidoscope ‘85”

May 18, 2019 | Cora McClain | Western Howl

May 10, in Smith Music Hall, senior music major Daniel Sampson gave a presentation on the journey of his album “Kaleidoscope ‘85.”