Be the Change: Arts and Culture

Photo: Music students and wind instruments Nurturing the belief that artistic expression is essential to human experience, JMU's visual and performing artists enrich life for countless others with works that awe, delight and inspire. Professors, students and alumni champion the arts in their communities and create on the world stage. They inspire imagination, illuminate the human condition, challenge the status quo and celebrate transformation. Ultimately, it's all about Be the Change.

The Stories ...

Planting roots at JMU

Dalya Luttwak When acclaimed Israeli-American sculptor Dalya Luttwak visited campus as Artist-in-Residence, the visit was a source of inspiration for JMU students and enrichment for the local community … Read More

A fervor for theater

JMU alum and Clemson theater professor Kendra Johnson ('91) researches African-American slave clothing on stage and screen and at historical sites. Kendra Johnson ('91) always knew that she would pursue a career in a creative field. Creativity, time, energy and passion paid off when Clemson University announced her promotion to associate professor of theater in … Read More

Music major plays Royal Pains doctor

Reshma Shetty "I came to JMU to study biology," says Reshma Shetty ('99). Instead, she earned an undergrad degree in music performance magna cum laude. Her cross-disciplinary experiences are coming in handy, though. She plays a doctor on TV … Read More

Columbia Records exec

Columbia Records exec Brian Nolan ('02) Years after graduating from JMU, Brian Nolan ('02) has learned that persistence and dedication pay off. Now an executive at Columbia Records, Nolan told his story to students in David Cottrell's … Read More

The People ...

  1. Kate Arecchi

    Kate Arecchi

    Directing change

    Actors change costumes, change roles, change sets, but Kate Arecchi helps students change their lives. JMU's coordinator of musical theatre prepares students for the challenging world of professional theater…Read more

  2. Brian Balmages ('98)

    Brian Balmages ('98)

    Composer, conductor, performer, producer

    Early on, Brian knew that he wanted to study music — both his parents were musicians and teachers — he just wasn't sure what part of the music industry he should venture into. "I initially went to JMU because of the reputation of the music industry …Read More

  3. Bill Buck

    William J. Buck

    Director, School of Theatre and Dance

    For a dozen summers, Bill Buck, founder of the JMU Children's Playshop, has raised the curtain on the magical world of the stage for thousands of pint-sized, first-time theatregoers. Dedicated to creating high-quality …Read More

  4. Matt Carasella ('03)

    Matt Carasella ('03)

    Founder, Little Shutterbugs

    When Matt founded Little Shutterbugs, a photography workshop for children, he wanted to change lives. He has. The first workshop gave impoverished Brazilian children a new perspective on themselves and their lives …Read More

  5. Ginjer Norris Clarke ('94)

    Ginjer Norris Clarke ('94)

    Children's Book Author

    Ginjer Norris Clarke wrote her first story in third grade. She took her proclivity for storytelling and the fantastical to Madison, where she majored in English and theater and theater professor Pam Johnson served as her mentor. Then, after graduation, …Read More

  6. Avery Daugherty ('07, '09M)

    Avery Daugherty ('07, '09M)

    Sparking instrumental change

    Dedicated and compassionate Madison alum Avery Daugherty shares his passion for music in a novel way. Inspired by his fraternity's instrument drive to restore band programs after Hurricane Katrina, Avery organized his own fundraiser …Read More

  7. Marlon Foster ('82, 95'M)

    Marlon Foster ('82, 95'M)

    Musician and teacher

    Marlon Foster is a musician through and through. He's played drums for the Marching Royal Dukes and the U.S. Air Force Band. And for the past 18 years, his "gig" has been teaching and conducting band at Thomas Harrison Middle School in Harrisonburg. For those …Read More

  8. Dr. Joanne Gabbin

    Dr. Joanne Gabbin

    Professor of English

    Like the poetry she revels in, Joanne Gabbin radiates with the power to transform. Both of her pioneering Furious Flower Poetry conferences have advanced African-American poetry, celebrating beauty and achievement …Read More

  9. Valerie Gibbs ('11)

    Valerie Gibbs ('11)

    Dingledine Scholar

    Valerie has devoted herself to being the change since middle school. As a youngster, she discovered the World Changers program sponsored by the North American Mission Board and became actively involved in its efforts to eliminate …Read More

  10. Jazminia Griffith ('06)

    Jazminia Griffith ('06)

    Poet

    Madison studio art and graphic design major Jazminia Griffith has been writing poetry since high school. When Essence commissioned three of her poems, it was a dream come true …Read More

  11. Donna Sizemore Hale ('81)

    Donna Sizemore Hale ('81)

    Executive Director, ASTA

    As the executive director of the nonprofit American String Teachers Association, Donna is orchestrating a difference for the future of music education and young musicians. During her time at ASTA, she has launched several programs to ensure that children have the chance …Read More

  12. Barbara Hall ('82)

    Barbara Hall ('82)

    Television Writer and Producer

    Emmy-nominated writer and producer Barbara Hall has always been a woman of substance, even in Hollywood, where trivialization and exploitation are often the keys to success. Hall's television programs, movies …Read More

  13. Eric Johnson ('95)

    Eric Johnson ('95)

    Creator of Open Source Shakespeare

    JMU alum Eric Johnson sought to make one of the world's best playwrights more accessible, and from an unlikely place — the Middle East. For his master's thesis in English … Read More

  14. Pamela Johnson

    Pamela Johnson

    Professor of Theatre

    Pamela Johnson combines her eye for design and passion for learning to turn the childhood game of dress up into a career art form. Beginning in 1974, when JMU was still Madison College, Pamela's work with students in designing costume … Read More

  15. Margot Haliday Knight ('74)

    Margot Haliday Knight ('74)

    Advancing the arts

    When Americans for the Arts, the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America, presented Margot with the 2007 Michael Newton Award, they cited her "combination of business and fundraising acumen … Read More

  16. Gladys Kemp Lisanby  ('49)

    Gladys Kemp Lisanby ('49)

    Turning heartache to artistry

    Change is not always easy. Gladys and her family know that all too well — Hurricane Katrina changed their lives forever. Her family's 100-year-old Pascagoula, Miss., home, which had withstood numerous coastal storms, was no match … Read More

  17. Don Rhymer ('82)

    Don Rhymer ('82)

    Screenwriter, humorist

    Education is no laughing matter to Don Rhymer. While the successful sitcom and screenwriter is in the business of making people laugh, he hasn't forgotten where he got his start as a double major … Read More

  18. Dick and Shirley Hanson ('56) Roberts

    Dick and Shirley Hanson ('56) Roberts

    JMU benefactors

    The Madison Experience has been credited with creating change in a number of different ways — Dick Roberts credits the experience for a single, life-changing moment that brought a lifetime of happiness. In June 1954 … Read More

  19. Katie Schnable  ('05)

    Katie Schnable ('05)

    Raising support for Russian orphans

    "I knew nothing about Russia, other than people telling me it had a lot of orphanages. I like kids and I like experiencing new things, so I took a leap of faith and hopped on the plane," says Katie Schnable, about her first trip … Read More

  20. Bertie Martin Selvey  ('58)

    Bertie Martin Selvey ('58)

    Founder of Byrd Watchers

    Bertie took on one of the biggest challenges Richmond, Va., had to offer and helped save one of America's architectural wonders. In the late 1920s the Byrd Theatre opened its doors to an excited audience … Read More

  21. Judy Strickler  ('60)

    Judy Strickler ('60)

    Building relationships

    There is a long Strickler family connection to JMU. After Judy graduated and earned a master's degree, she returned to JMU to teach and was a supervisor for the home management house, which is now Varner House. Judy and … Read More

  22. Elizabeth Swallow

    Elizabeth Swallow

    Physician and School of Music benefactor

    When Elizabeth moved to Harrisonburg 20 years ago to practice obstetrics and gynecology, she needed to live near the hospital. "That meant I could just walk over the hill and attend performances at JMU," she … Read More

  23. Jason Teasley  ('02)

    Jason Teasley ('02)

    Artist and Peace Corps volunteer

    Studio art major Jason Teasley has applied his talent and passion to making a change at every opportunity. After graduation he served in AmeriCorps*NCCC, creating art for national parks, teaching at … Read More

  24. Casey Templeton ('06)

    Casey Templeton ('06)

    2005 College Photographer of the Year

    Casey Templeton views the world through a camera lens, using his talents to see the extraordinary in everyday life — detailed images most people overlook. The School of Media Arts and Design … Read More

  25. Kate Trammell

    Kate Trammell

    Professor of Dance

    Kate believes that each individual is innately gifted with creativity, and she has proof — a wealth of experiences gained from teaching and performing throughout the United States and abroad. In addition to teaching modern dance … Read More

  26. Christina Tina Updike ('73)

    Christina "Tina" Updike ('73)

    Scholarship Benefactor

    With the Madison Digital Image Database, Christina "Tina" Updike ('73) helped revolutionize the use of digital images in the classroom. The educational software is now used by America's top universities, and the program … Read More

Be the Change! sectors ...

Be the Change
in Arts & Culture

Kate Arecchi
Coordinator of musical theater, directing change

Brian Balmages ('98)
Composer, conductor, performer, producer

Bill Buck
Professor of Theatre, Director of the JMU School of Theatre and Dance

Matt Carasella ('03)
Founder, Little Shutterbugs

Ginjer Norris Clarke ('94)
Children's Book Author

Avery Daugherty ('07, '09M)
Sparking instrumental change

Marlon Foster ('82, '95M)
Musician and teacher

Joanne Gabbin
English Professor, Furious Flower Poetry Center Founder

Valerie Gibbs ('11)
Scholar

Jazminia Griffith ('06)
Poet

Donna Sizemore Hale ('81)
Executive Director, American String Teachers Association

Barbara Hall ('82)
Television Writer and Producer

Eric Johnson ('95)
Creator, Open Source Shakespeare

Pamela Johnson
Professor of theatre

Margot Knight ('74)
President and CEO of United Arts of Central Florida

Gladys Kemp Lisanby ('49)
Founding president, Mississippi State Committee, National Museum of Women in the Arts

Don Rhymer ('82)
Screenwriter, humorist

Dick and Shirley Hanson ('56) Roberts
JMU benefactors

Katie Schnable ('05)
Raising support for Russian orphans

Bertie Martin Selvey ('58)
Arts supporter and founder of Byrd Watchers

Judy Strickler ('60)
Donor, member of JMU Board of Visitors

Elizabeth Swallow
Physician and School of Music benefactor

Jeanine Tally ('02)
worked with the JMU Honors Program and Furious Flower Poetry Center

Jason Teasley ('02)
Artist and Peace Corps volunteer

Casey Templeton ('06)
2005 College Photographer of the Year

Kate Trammell
Dance professor

Christina Updike ('73)
JMU visual resources curator, scholarship benefactor