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Faculty Profile: Steven Nelson
Associate Professor of Art
and Chairperson of the Department

When Steve Nelson of the art faculty came to Hope 18 years ago, after finishing his MFA, he was not only thrilled by having the opportunity to teach but intrigued by the sense that Hope was out of the ordinary. “I sensed that Hope was a special place,” he said. “It was the kind of community where people cared about the programs, the caliber of their work, and providing a quality experience for their students.”

Hope still seems like an extraordinary place to Professor Nelson, who appreciates all that goes into creating top-notch arts programs in particular. “The arts are such a physical area that the demands of the facilities are great and it requires a lot of energy on the part of the faculty to be able to provide those things,” he says, “and the students are of a caliber that they are concerned about their education. They want to make the most of the opportunity to learn. They aren’t here just to get their credits and move on-they’re here to genuinely engage in the process of learning.”

Professor Nelson believes that Hope prepares students well for meeting the challenges that that they come across after graduation. “One of the benefits of being an art student and pursing a career in art is that you learn to envision something,” he says, “and you can envision your life as well, thinking about where you’ll be five years from now, and as long as you can envision something, there’s the possibility that you can attain it.”

Beyond what art contributes to society aesthetically, Professor Nelson believes that for individuals the process of creating art can contribute much. “Art is important because it opens your mind to creative processes,” he says. “The process of thinking creatively is the essence for growing as an individual. If you can engage in creative process in business, in science, in whatever your endeavor is, you can move ahead in a way that considers all options,” he says.

In addition to teaching photography at the college, Professor Nelson is also an accomplished artist in his own right. In January of 2007, he opened a collaborative show in the De Pree Art Center with another art professor at Hope. His recent focus as an artist has included large-format color photographs of abbey ruins in the British Isles.

Professor Nelson strongly advises students not to “miss any opportunity to pursue your profession and make yourself visible.” He also counsels, “In everything you do, move ahead in a way that considers all options.”

This profile was written by Megan E. Dougherty, a 2007 Hope College graduate from Normal, Ill., for the 2007-08 Hope College Catalog.

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