Faculty Success

student painting panel for ACES project

Steve Gordon: ACES Project

November 1, 2018 – Steve Gordon, an adjunct professor of painting, has designed several projects in his beginning painting classes in which groups of student work together to paint murals that depict difficult topics such as the opioid crisis, sexual assault, and the Syrian refugee crisis.

What is unique about these undertakings is that the students work closely with members of the community who have been affected by a social crisis in order to bring a greater understanding of the subject matter to the paintings.

In 2016, Professor Gordon and his students put together a show at Beans Café Homeless Shelter called “Unseen – Seen”. The exhibition consisted of large scale portraits of members of Anchorage’s homeless population. The paintings are tender and sensitive depictions of people who face adverse circumstances on a daily basis with toughness and resilience.

Student Painting ACES panel

Students presented completed panels
student painting on the floor, ACES project

Students presenting completed panel to subject

During this fall, the beginning painting class and artists within the community began the ACE’s Mural Project which is focused on the correlation between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE's) and addiction. Seven murals where painted, each depicting a recovering drug addict's life story.   Individual artists and teams of artists paired up with an ACE "guest" and had a conversation about their life.  The ACE guests talked about what happened to them as children, how they got into their addiction, where their addiction took them, how they found recovery and what they are doing currently to deal with the stresses of life in a healthy way.

One of the teams who worked with a guest named Tara stated, “Most of us had no experience with Street Art or making murals of any kind so we were working with unfamiliar tools while trying to tell a complex and powerful story. We were learning new techniques and mediums. We began with picking a color palette and a central image and soon found ourselves standing in front of blank panels, unsure what marks to make first. We opened our hearts and felt our confidence grow large enough to fill a 6’x10’ panel. We found courage in Tara’s words and in the miracle of her survival”.

students present completed panel
student painting an ACES panel

Professor Gordon said, “It is my hope that the murals will shine a light on ACE's and how childhood trauma can lead to addiction. In addition, I hope to those in currently living in addiction to find hope that their lives can be different”. 

Three of the completed murals are now on display on the second floor in the Fine Arts Building.

You can read about local artist David Pettibone and his work on the Ace’s Project at the Anchorage Daily News






Alvin Amanson in workshop

Alvin Amason

Alvin will be awarded the 2018 Governor’s Arts and Humanities Award. Throughout his teaching career, Alvin has excelled as an individual artist, creating fun and whimsical pieces in widely mixed media. His work is on display across Alaska, the nation and internationally. Follow Alvin's story

David Pettibone

David Pettibone

David Pettibone came to Alaska looking for one thing and found something else that was more profound. It is his gift to see beyond what he expects to see. Follow David's story

Alanna DeRocchi

Alanna DeRocchi

Alanna has exhibited her large-scale ceramic sculptures in numerous museums and galleries across the United States and internationally. In 2016 she worked as the artist in residence for the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts. Follow Alanna's story

Thomas Chung

Thomas Chung

Thomas' multidisciplinary work has been written about in Art in America, The New Yorker, and Modern Painters Magazine. In addition to traditional art shows, Chung has numerous permanent murals and sculptural installations around the country. Follow Thomas' story

Don Decker

Don Decker

Don Decker has over 50 years experience in art and education. His work has been included in more than 300 exhibitions in 20 states, Guam and Washington D.C.  He has had 40 solo shows and has been selected for over 100 invitational and juried exhibitions. Follow Don's story