Composed of a diverse array of faculty, staff and administrators, the Oakland University community is unique, creative, and dedicated. As part of a continuing effort to explore the various roles and lives of our Golden Grizzlies, the News @ OU website presents a new interview series. We invite you to share these stories and “Take 5” with OU.
Andrea Eis is an associate professor and chair of Oakland University’s Department of Art and Art History. She came to OU in 1983 and spent nine years teaching photography before leaving for a brief hiatus in 1992 to become a curator at the Creative Arts Center in Pontiac. By the fall of 1993, Andrea was back, and has been a Golden Grizzly ever since. Internationally recognized, Andrea’s artwork has appeared in exhibitions in the United States, Greece, China and Hungary, and she has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Art Education Foundation. Andrea served as the Doris and Paul Travis Endowed Professor in Art from 2007-10. She also received the Phyllis Law Googasian Award, along with university faculty awards in service and teaching. This fall, a discussion of her work, “Art and Marginalia: The Intrigue of Tiny Black Script in the Margins,” was featured for the President’s Colloquium.
1) How would you describe your personal art philosophy or aesthetic?
It is important to me that images are visually beautiful, and can also be appreciated intellectually. I am intrigued by work that requires an effort of understanding and offers an intellectual component and philosophical statement.
2) Are you working on a personal art project right now? What kind of media do you favor?
My work is mostly based in Greek images, themes and language. I was a Classics major and studied Greek before focusing on art, and it is still hugely important to me. There are many themes from Greek culture that are prevalent in our society today, and I can always find items in the news that refer back to ancient philosophies. Visually, I am now working on a project that combines text, marginalia, sculpture and photography that traces back thousands of years ago, then a hundred years ago, and stretches to the present. Merging the past and the present, I dyed large photos onto translucent fabric, creating an image from the past that a viewer can see through to the present. The past is very alive to me, and I can always see relevance and connect strongly to those core values and ideals.
3) What is your household/ family like?
My husband and I met in art school, and he is now a professor at Lawrence Technological University in architecture and design. We have a son, Benjamin, who is a mechanical engineer and daughter, Justine, who went into graphic design. We have two cats, named Motown and Smudge. I grew up with dogs, but have now ended up with cats.
4) What campus resources do you wish more people knew about?
I wish more people would make it a habit to visit the Oakland University Art Gallery. The gallery is a substantial and significant part of the department and offers the community a unique showplace to see new art from around the university, country and world. The student thesis shows are particularly important, as it is good professional experience for students and also because it allows the public a chance to see the quality and caliber of our students’ work.
5) What do you enjoy most about being a part of the Oakland community?
So many things! The students are wonderful; they are so engaged and really want to be learning. In the arts, we can watch students really progress and it is such a thrill. By the time students get to their senior thesis projects, you can see how fulfilled they are and how their skills have really advanced. OU has also offered me the opportunity to teach a wide variety of courses and to develop new ones. I love the faculty here, and feel that we have a real community that is supportive and interesting. Oakland University is just a good place to be.