Cynthia Kukla, Professor
Art Department
Illinois State University


Sabbatical Appointment
Visiting Adjunct Associate Professor
Miami University, Oxford, Ohio




Sabbatical Report for 1999-2000 Sabbatical

Impervious to Technology:
The Study and Use of Traditional, Archaic and Lost Art Techniques
in the Postmodern Era




Sabbatical Research:

1. Create new studio work that benefits from research on lost art techniques.


2. Expand previously-funded web site Lost Art. (See attached Abbreviated Research Summary.)



Purpose and Design of Projects and Activities (as stated in sabbatical proposal)

The purpose of my sabbatical proposal is to study and utilize artistic materials and methods that are impervious to modern technology.


The first outcome will be the creation of new studio work in painting and sculpture that employs traditional and non-toxic though labor-intensive materials and techniques. The second outcome will be that, as a studio faculty, I will become more highly conversant with non-toxic art materials and methods that have fallen into disuse and share them with my students. The third outcome of my studio research will be more information to be included in my twice-funded educational web site "The Role of Lost Art Techniques in the Postmodern Era."



Sabbatical Outcome:

1. Create new studio work that benefits from research on lost art techniques. Because I intended to complete an ambitious body of work, it was necessary to secure a large studio. Since I was offered a Visiting Appointment by Miami University, I secured a warehouse space in Cincinnati, Ohio to realize my sabbatical studio goals.


Sabbatical studio work consists of two hundred thirty paintings that have been completed and archived during my 1999-2000 sabbatical. Thirteen sketchbooks have been completed and archived.


2. Expand previously-funded web site Lost Art.

My web site Lost Art has been expanded through my research relationship with

Miami University as well has an ongoing research relationship with our Instructional

Technology Services. An Art History student at Miami elected to work with me for the

fall semester and we expanded the existing site and prepared the next update. The web site

has had continued management with a work study relationship I have with our Illinois State

University Instructional Technology Services. My ISU web work student assistant has been o on task for five semesters, including Fall, 2000.


3. Secure a permanent studio in the Cincinnati area for continuing work in addition to permanent s studio in Bloomington, Illinois. A successful sabbatical should have surprises. Mine did.

The new work has led to a relationship with industry described below that has necessitated my securing a post-sabbatical studio in Covington, Kentucky to realize an ambitious new series of paintings.


4. Secure a studio assistant in Cincinnati. Fortunately, I was able to hire one of the best students f from my previous university's art program who assisted me throughout the year.


Exhibits of new sabbatical work during 1999-2000 Sabbatical:

1. Inaugural sabbatical solo exhibition, Contemplations of the Past, at Illinois Central College, East Peoria, Illinois, September, 1999.


2. Faculty Biannual, University Galleries, ISU, November 1999.


3. Mentor and Muse, five-person exhibit I curated to showcase four former women graduate students, all who received their MFA's from Illinois State University. Their work was seen side by side with mine. This exhibit examined the relationship between faculty and students in same-age relationships and the mature bonds and co-mentoring that naturally occur when age difference does not exist as part of the teacher-student relationship. I was major professor to three of the four, and served on the committee of the fourth artist/candidate. This exhibit opened at the Foster Art Center, Peoria, January, 2000 and traveled to the Prairie Arts Center, Schaumberg, Illinois, September, 2000. Reviewed in Peoria Journal-Star and Peoria Register.


4. Solo mid-sabbatical exhibition, My Ostraka, at Cathedral Gallery, Covington, Kentucky, March-April, 2000 by special invitation of the director, Arlene Gibeau.


5. Vine Street Project, installation of large-scale sabbatical works-in-progress, Cincinnati, Ohio, July 2000. Reviewed in CityBeat.


Exhibits of new sabbatical work following 1999-2000 Sabbatical:

1. Mentor and Muse, Prairie Arts Center, Schaumberg, Illinois, September, 2000. (See above.)


2. Solo post-sabbatical exhibition, After, at University of Illinois-Springfield, Illinois, October-November, 2000 by special invitation of the Chairman of the Department of Art,

Robert Dixon.


3. Solo post-sabbatical exhibition, Lotus Paintings, at the Beringer-Crawford Museum, Covington, Kentucky, March, 2001 by special invitation of the Director.


4. Solo post-sabbatical exhibition that combine first and second sabbatical paintings at Flowers and Beyond Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio, April, 2001 by special invitation of the Gallery.



New galleries representing my paintings following 1999-2000 Sabbatical:

1. Suzanna Terrell Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio.


2. Design Consortium, Cincinnati, Ohio.


3. Mind and Matter Gallery, Covington, Kentucky.



Commissioned Work

Because I had secured a special sabbatical studio in Cincinnati, I was requested for a special commission for the Covington Educational Foundation. I previously lived and taught in a tenured position for ten years in the area and I have maintained relationships there with art professionals over the years.


This commission was to create an original watercolor of Covington's historic sites. From the original watercolor, limited edition prints would be made in an edition 0f 2,000 and sold for scholarship fundraising through he Covington Educational Foundation. This project has been completed and the prints are being distributed to various galleries and businesses in Covington at this time.


This is my second commission of this kind, and both my first commission in Bloomington and this one have led to the potential third commission that utilizes my new sabbatical images. I am presently in the negotiating phase with a museum which will have it's new building open sometime in 2001. I am being requested to paint work from their permanent collection in five major areas, thus I would be commissioned to make five new paintings. The museum would use the reproduction rights from these paintings for all components of their inauguration. This represents the largest and most prestigious commission I would receive to date.



Workshops, Lectures, Outside Consulting

1. Art Examiner for International Baccalaureate, Geneva, Switzerland, by recommendation.

In April, 2000, I examined the only two IB schools in Illinois, Trinity High School and Lincoln Park High School, both in the Chicago area.


2. Instructor, Southern Illinois Art Council by return invitation of director. I taught an all-media painting workshop and a watercolor workshop, May, 2000.



Special Project with Industry

It was my goal to develop a new body of work that sprung from ongoing research and exploration of myth-making and symbols in a contemporary context. Because I completed such a large volume of work, two-hundred thirty paintings, I was able to develop an inter-related series of symbols and themes. I selected a complex image from history that I would use as a template for each painting in this expanded series. This complex image was time-consuming to paint by hand. I completed two large paintings this way during my sabbatical and I determined that the remained of the series should be completed by commercially silk-screening my image onto a primed canvas.


This image would read as both "figure and field" because it is large, reaching across the entire expanse of the canvas and because it is applied first to the canvas, thus it reads as field.

It also reads as figure because it is a known and highly-detailed image appropriated from history. Following the application of the image, either by hand or commercially, each painting would evolve in differing ways. Each of the two paintings already completed exclusively by hand during this sabbatical have different images and symbols painted onto them and each employ a variety of contemporary painting techniques.


It became clear that I needed to develop a special relationship with industry to realize this large-scale and ambitious body of new paintings that has evolved out of my sabbatical experience.

I worked with Grafixation Inc. in Covington, Kentucky who helped me prepare the complex image on computer disk for silk screen output. They had the capability of printing out large scale five foot "proofs." Once approved, we finalized the image and saved it on a zip disk which has a greater memory capability than a floppy disk.

The next step was to secure a commercial silk screen company to output my image onto my prepared canvases. While we all have a rudimentary knowledge of silk-screening, albeit an amateurish one, such as picturing the screening of a fundraising project onto tee shirts, contemporary technology in the industry is complex and requires a complete understanding of the chemistry involved. This is a direct application of my sabbatical thesis:

Impervious to Technology: The Study and Use of Traditional, Archaic and Lost Art Techniques in the Postmodern Era.

The most hi-tech printing companies use infrared sensitive lacquer based inks for screen printing. This is both toxic and unsuitable for my fine-arts purpose. Lacquer is solvent-based and my paints are water-based. So one problem was in finding a company that was willing to utilize modified paints that I would prepare as a substitution for commercial printing ink.


Another problem is the scale of the final product, fifty by ninety inches for each canvas. Most screen printing companies cannot accommodate such a large length to width ratio. Even if they could, the number of prints is extremely small. I will order between twelve to eighteen screened images. Most commercial orders are in the thousands, so my order would be considered the most customized order on the books. The KDM Corporation in Cincinnati was able to offer their services to me, thanks to a highly-imaginative sales rep. Without his input, this special project could not be realized. While it will be costly and labor-intensive, it will go down in history as being an innovative relationship between artist and industry. KDM is a highly-specialized company that has extremely large-scale equipment. I have visited their facility numerous times for meetings with their staff and to bring primed canvas samples for their printers to run tests.


Additional technical problems existed that are too complex to discuss here. It is sufficient to say that I am fusing three different matrices. The visual matrix of a computer images in pixels. The visual matrix of a screen printed image is a dot matrix system. Finally, the visual matrix of an artist's canvas is in the warp and weft of the cloth, a lineal system utilizing a natural material, cotton duck. This creates a printing nightmare and this would be unworkable if I wasn't painting over the top of this images, which again, will read as figure and field. Most screen printing is done on synthetic polystyrene or other slick synthetic surface that provides little or no matrix resistance. It is a triumph already, that KDM Corporation has agreed to take on a highly-specialized fine arts project. I am fortunate for their compassion, interest and technical virtuosity. They are award-winning leaders in their field.



Timetable for Special Project with Industry

Owing to the technical complexity of this project, it will take two years or more to complete this project. First, I am preparing the primer to my canvases by hand with special scraping tools so that the gesso primer is scraped, not brushed, into the canvas. Traditionally, an artist applies primer with a brush. I must replicate, as close as possible, the perfectly smooth surface that screen printing demands. There can be no brush marks that cause surface differentiation. This first step is so crucial that I cannot afford to pay anyone who is technically capable of doing this to near-industry standards, so I must do it myself. Each canvas needs three coats with drying time between coats, so while this is not quite the Labor of Hercules, it is both labor and time-intensive.


I have secured the assistance of a second studio assistant in Cincinnati to help with the stretching of the canvases on a bare wall. She is a graduate of the Art Academy of Cincinnati and majored in painting. Her background is perfect for the task. The canvases I prepare must be delivered to KDM flat for screening, they will not be on traditional wooden canvas stretcher bars till after they are screen printed at KDM with my image. Once my assistant and I suitable stretch each canvas to the wall, I apply the primer. I return to Cincinnati about two week-ends a month to work on this and to prepare for my upcoming solo shows in the area.


I am also working with my old studio assistant in Bloomington to do the same procedure in my Bloomington studio to speed up the preparation time. My Bloomington studio is smaller so I can only do one canvas at a time, whereas the Cincinnati studio is a warehouse, so I have a suitable wall that can accommodate three canvases at a time. (Screen printers need the printing surface to be larger than the area being printed, called selvage, so to have 50 x 90 inch paintings, I am providing them with 60 x 100 inch primed canvases. It is difficult to find a suitable wall of sufficient scale for stapling canvas to be primed.)




Without an uninterrupted year of research time, this project would certainly not have evolved.

It is unimaginable to me that I could have made such progress in any other setting and under typical circumstances. Completing two-hundred thirty art works alone, accompanied by thirteen sketchbooks, is a staggering outcome. This along with five exhibits during my sabbatical and four exhibits following it speak to the value of the work completed. I had also hoped to complete a new sculptural work in my Throne Series, but Miami University does not have a working foundry in place at this time. The new painting series that utilizes special non-toxic inks and that requires a special relationship with industry more than replaces this item in my sabbatical quest. Hence, visiting artist residencies at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill and at Illinois Central College, Peoria to pour bronze components for upcoming thrones had to be postponed until this painting/screen printing project is completed.


The thirteen sketchbooks need special mention. They are, of course, personally valuable to me. They also represent an excellent teaching tool. I brought in these sketchbooks to all three of my fall semester classes to share them with my students. This afforded these young artists the opportunity to see how new work is realized, from conception to completion. Hopefully, students will gain from the viewing of a number of sketchbooks in various themes the realization that their personal ideas are valid and worthy of development as sketches and final product.


The painting/screen printing project need special mention as well as it impacts the return to teaching. Our painting program now includes a section on screen printing for painting majors. In our Postmodern era, the appropriation of images is most suitably achieved for painters by the use of screen printing methodology. This is true because computer appropriation is very limited. To output an image developed on the computer, the scale is usually eleven by seventeen inches, a very small scale, limiting to a painter. Larger outputting to approximately thirty by forty-four inches is available at great cost using outside companies. Screen printing of appropriated images is versatile, can be achieved in large-scale and is cost-effective. This makes screen printing ideal for student exploration.


I am taking progress photographs of my special project which, along with sketchbook activity and technical notes, will be useful for classroom and lecture use. Most painters do not have expertise in this area so this brings a special impact to my classroom work at Illinois State University. I am fulfilling my sabbatical quest to intensify my understanding of contemporary chemicals and methods of production, implications of toxicity, and non-toxic substitutes. This will prove to be very useful in the classroom. Adding to it are the exhibition of new art works that promotes Illinois State University in my upcoming solo exhibits in Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio.



I. Description of Proposed Leave


A. Purpose and Design of Projects and Activities

The purpose of my sabbatical proposal is to study and utilize artistic materials and methods that are impervious to modern technology.1


The first outcome will be the creation of new studio work in painting and sculpture that employs traditional and non-toxic though labor-intensive materials and techniques as outlined below. The second outcome will be that, as a studio faculty, I will become more highly conversant with non-toxic art materials and methods that have fallen into disuse and share them with my students. The third outcome of my studio research will be more information to be included in my twice-funded educational web site "The Role of Lost Art Techniques in the Postmodern Era."




Cynthia M. Kukla
Associate Professor, Art Department



Sabbatical Proposal


Impervious to Technology:

The Study and Use of Traditional, Archaic and Lost Art Techniques
in the Postmodern Era





I. Description of Proposed Leave


A. Purpose and Design of Projects and Activities

The purpose of my sabbatical proposal is to study and utilize artistic materials and methods that are impervious to modern technology.1


The first outcome will be the creation of new studio work in painting and sculpture that employs traditional and non-toxic though labor-intensive materials and techniques as outlined below. The second outcome will be that, as a studio faculty, I will become more highly conversant with non-toxic art materials and methods that have fallen into disuse and share them with my students. The third outcome of my studio research will be more information to be included in my twice-funded educational web site "The Role of Lost Art Techniques in the Postmodern Era."



The twentieth century may be seen as the century that has been seduced by the siren song of technology. Now, as the century and millennium ends, we are soberly assessing that seduction: the fallout from overuse of chemicals, synthetics, mechanization and machinery, the breakdown of nuclear power plants and escalating demand for electrical power, a spectacular cancer increase resulting from toxins and pollutants, the outbreaks of toxic viruses, and a myriad other problems.


The field of art methods and materials that are impervious to modern technology has not been widely examined yet.2 I may be the first to phrase it this way. However, this topic is potentially broad and can include the use of clay, glass, iron, and numerous metals that can be forged or cast, fibers that can be woven or beaten into paper, pigments that can be dissolved into natural mediums or applied to wet plaster (fresco) and so on. The subject is timely and has long-term research potential.


Currently I am studying the ancient paint materials that were used by early Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Syrian cultures among others for the purpose of keeping this knowledge intact for future generations of artists and art students. This compliments my work in bronze and gold leaf. These three areas (traditional pigments, gilding, and bronze casting) in particular have figured prominently in my educational and studio efforts since the 1980's. This was initiated by my apprenticing with a contemporary American gilder while doing my graduate thesis research in watercolors (1980-83.)

Brief Outline of Background for Research


• First study of gold leaf in 1982 and it's methods of application, gilding (of sculptural surfaces) and illuminating (on a flat surface such as parchment,) came about from toxic effects of contemporary gold lacquer and toxic lacquer solvents, especially benzene.


• Toxicity in contemporary art was a new topic in the early 1980's and relevant to me. In graduate school I was already working exclusively in watercolors owing to solvent toxicity associated with oil paint. 3


• Apprenticed with Elizabeth Breed in 1982 who worked for the University of Wisconsin and was one of only five Americans who were members of the British Royal Society of Scribes and Gilders at that time.


• Learned from Breed to work with gold leaf which must be applied painstakingly by hand as it has been for millennia. Materials involved in preparation and execution are relatively to completely non-toxic. (One form of illuminating uses a base coat for the gold made of glare, a solution of egg white in distilled water.)


• Supported by a university grant in 1987 to learn illuminating in Europe under Donald Jackson, Scribe to Queen Elizabeth II and gilding with Paul Levy, one of Europe's great restoration gilders.


• Received six further research grants (Kentucky Foundation for Women 1990-91, Northern Kentucky University 1990-91, 1992-3, 1993 and Illinois State University 1995, 1997) when I began making sculptures to accompany my large-scale paintings. I learned lost wax bronze casting and ancient paint and coloring formulas to realize my sculptural throne tableaux. Lost wax bronze casting is as ancient and labor-intensive as gold leaf work. By using it I had an aesthetic and conceptual correspondence to my current painting investigations.


• Professional research and grants led to chairing several panels on the topic of Lost Art Techniques for the National College Art Association, the Mid-America, and Southeastern College Art Association Annual Conferences (1987, 1988.)


• Logical repository for this information is an educational web site on the topic. This was realized in 1997. ISU's Office of Research Technology funded both the creation of the educational site and it's update (1998). My site is titled "The Role of Lost Art Techniques in the Postmodern Era."

• Site chosen by two undergraduate honors students for their honors projects. Both students learned research methodology from me and web development from ORAT staff and myself.


The art world in the postmodern era is moving back to a greater understanding of the aesthetic in relation to the conceptual in art in my opinion. Witness examples like David Hickey's Enter the Dragon and the discussions in art journals of the much maligned concept of beauty. Lost art techniques have relevance at the end of the millennia because they naturally embrace the aesthetic. Equally relevant in my study of lost art techniques is first, there is a general reduction or absence of toxicity for the art practitioner and second, the recording of its practice is valuable for use by others.


Proposed Research

1A. Study ancient pigments and lost art techniques more fully. Integrate their use into my paintings and sculptures. Complete one or more new throne tableaux.


In preparation for this I have:

• Experimented with gold leaf, metallic paint, and hand-ground pigments for safe yet unexpected paint effects on my canvases.


• Used ancient paint formulas and lost wax bronze casting for my first sculptural tableau, a large-scale mythic pair of thrones made of bronze in combination with discarded natural and man-made materials like broken furniture, metal and wood. This was supported by my first ISU grant (1995.) The male and female pair of thrones are each 6 feet high and sit on a 5 X 7 foot gold leaf dais. It was completed for the 1995 Faculty Biennial.


• Consulted with Objects Conservator Jill Whitten of the Art Institute of Chicago and Ruth Norton, visiting Egyptologist at the Field Museum of Chicago to verify my experimental formulas. All parts of my sculptures were either gold-leafed or painted with special pigments recreating those used in ancient Egyptian funerary sculpture. Toxic chemicals were completely eliminated in this phase.


• Cast leg extensions in bronze from tree branches, bamboo and furniture increases the height and stability of the sculptural thrones actually and metaphorically.


A sabbatical would support the completion of my second male/female throne tableau which is technically much more complex than the first pair:


• This piece is made from an abandoned wicker love seat I cut in half. This activates the male/female dialectic that governs much of my oeuvre - ancient myths of male and female halves finding wholeness in spiritual and sexual union. Each half is missing a significant part (arms, legs or back brace) which will be made of cast bronze.

• I am using larger and more intricate pieces of driftwood and tree limbs to cast into bronze for missing leg and arm extensions and to create serpentine back braces. The wood was culled from a stockpile of hundreds of pieces of old branches and limbs I have collected.


• When completed with special pigments, silver leaf and a silver leaf dais, these thrones replicate artifacts from an ancient civilization. Natural materials and hand working replaces toxic chemicals. These new works are part of my current series, Relinquishing History, Second Cycle consisting of paintings and sculptures. Within my studio, there is an ongoing dialog between the paintings and the polychrome sculptures.


A sabbatical would support my continued in-depth investigation of ancient pigmenting and varnishing formulas for my paintings:


• This will yield more luminous, natural painting effects than contemporary formulas like acrylic resins and polyurethanes with greater health safety.


• The results are also aesthetic and archival.


Major concepts


Of special note is that gold or silver leaf is essential to the meaning of my work. It operates metaphorically particularly in my throne series. Precious metals are used universally on spiritual and rarefied objects. My thrones refer to domestic objects elevated to sacred status. They are made exclusively from broken, cast-off objects, a statement of wasteful consumer culture. Things easily recognized, a chair and musician's worn drumsticks have been refashioned into a throne with a gilt drumstick sunburst corona. My first thrones are from matched cast-off chairs of equal height, as Egyptian sculptures of kings and queens were carved uniformly from a single limestone block in reference to ancient matrilineal culture. I combine the domestic and the discarded to fashion sculptures that refer to cere-monial objects of ancient matrilineal cultures not to deconstruct patriarchal culture, but to expand it's range of symbolic references.


Gilding and illuminating seen as a "lost art" is owed almost exclusively to the difficulty in learning how to use leaf and the time involved in applying gold or silver leaf to any surface. Toxic contemporary metallic paints and faster methods of application with a brush or mechanized paint sprayer and solvents have eclipsed their widespread use. Illness, environmental impact, and the cost of the disposal of toxic substances have recently changed the way we view chemicals and their unchecked use. Again, the outcome of using authentic leaf over lacquer or enamel-based luminous paints is aesthetic, archival, and environmental.




1B. This research provides a unique learning experience for students.


• Students working as project assistants learn pigment grinding, gilding and other traditional techniques not commonly taught in university curricula. Following her apprenticeship with me, Cecelia Hardecker employed natural ground pigments and gold leaf in certain works in her MFA Thesis Exhibit.


• This research allows me to more fully integrate traditional materials into my entire painting curriculum from beginning through advanced painting. The impact is far greater than can be detailed here and is largely about an attitude in art-making that fosters the thoughtful use of materials in relation to conceptual goals. I hope to influence generations of art students in painting (and drawing also) to use time-honored or safer materials. The timeliness of this is obvious.


• This will have a specific impact on Painting III. which I teach as a "process" course in materials and techniques in the event students have not felt confident with their painting skills. I may discover sufficient substitutes for toxic materials in the natural world and offer them as a significant class component for future semesters. Please see attached current syllabus.


• Many large art programs offer a Materials and Techniques Painting Course, usually available to take after Painting I. Usually one faculty has the expertise such as I have outlined in the above sections to teach this kind of course. We currently do not have such a course, but I would like to see this research as helpful toward the development of a course within the painting curriculum.


1C. More information to be included in my educational web site "Lost Art Techniques in the Postmodern Era."


• This builds on my site funded by an ORAT Research Grant in 1997 and 1998. Few artists, writers or art theorists has consistently collected data on contemporary artists who employ lost art techniques. (Refer to footnote 2.)


• Both the panel I chaired "Lost Art Techniques for the End of the Millennium" to a standing room only crowd at the Mid-America College Art Conference (Oct. 22-25, 1997, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va.) and my web site are unique to the field of art. This sabbatical grant will support more research on my part for the regular update of my site that explores and archives a unique but highly-supported topic. I am also applying to the Illinois Art Council for support of this site.


• An example for an upcoming web site Discussion Page will be a large study of the jacquard loom because calculations for weaving on this loom are the forerunner for the creation of computer systems. This is an exciting though not commonly-known piece of information. Professor Naomi Towner of our art department will be the Guest Discussant. This site is broad-reaching in that while it focuses on what is old, this focus often lends itself to a discussion of the relationship between old and new technologies. My own studio practice enables me to do the lab work, so to speak, so that I am an active practitioner in this field and can shape this web site from a position of active involvement.


• Future Guest Discussants on my web site will include Donald Jackson of Great Britain. He personally has given me more confidence than anyone in pursuing the learning and practice of traditional art methods.


B. Time schedule


Since I have been researching lost art techniques since 1980 for my MFA thesis exhibition, this field of study grows with me year by year. The new art work and research in pigments and materials that generate it can be realized in a one-year sabbatical. The web site is ongoing. Sabbatical "reports" to the site will enliven the Discussion Page and Upcoming Events sections.


Every grant I have received has exceeded expectations and has been completed on time. My proposal has highly interrelated parts. Some of the planned exhibitions will occur after the sabbatical concludes, but the work for the exhibit will have been completed during the one-year time frame.


C. End product (outcomes)


Studio outcomes. This body of research is leading to a series of professional opportunities that include the following :


• Visiting artist residency at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill and at Illinois Central College, Peoria to pour bronze components for upcoming thrones during the 1999-2000 academic year. The specific dates of residency are forthcoming. A presentation on the research I do on safety in media will be part of my invitation.


• Invitations to have a solo exhibition at the Kortman Center for Design, Rockford, Illinois in 1999 and possibly at Virginia Technical Institute's Department of Art in Blacksburg, Virginia in 2000 with new large scale paintings and sculptures created with lost art techniques.


This means I can start two more throne series as a visiting artist. I already have thrones in a very early stage of development that were cut from an old wicker settee discussed above in 1A. I need studio time and an occasional studio assistant to fully develop this intricate piece and start the next two by the invitations mentioned above. I regularly employ a skilled student as a studio assistant relative to a particular project and can do so more fully during a sabbatical. In a year sabbatical, two to three sculptures and related large paintings can be completed.


Educational/teaching outcomes:


• I can more fully integrate traditional materials into my entire painting curriculum from beginning through advanced painting. Drawing will be affected positively also but to a lesser degree.


• I can expand intermediate painting (Painting III.) with new topics in non-toxic traditional methods and materials.


• I will have material for an in-depth materials and techniques course. This compliments the depth we are achieving in other studio areas, such as the newly-approved advanced figure drawing course and the color theory course.


• I will expand my educational web site on lost art techniques with new topics as I acquire it for lively updates.


II. Contribution of Sabbatical/Educational Leave to Profession and Personal Welfare


A premise of higher education is that there is a direct impact of scholarly and creative work to teaching effectiveness. Every time I am in the studio or elsewhere in creative or scholarly work, some information is directly applicable to teaching. Something discovered can immediately help a particular student or lead to a new topic for discussion or direct use. So a sabbatical gives me time to devote my wholehearted energy to my work and return to teaching with a substantial amount of information to share and renewed energy with which to share it.


Regarding my particular proposal: artists who embrace lost art techniques as integral to their oeuvre are among the most highly-regarded in contemporary art. Primarily, but not exclusively, I think of the work of American James Lee Byars and the Europeans Rebecca Horn, Anselm Kiefer, Sigmar Polke, Jannis Kounellis and Francesco Clemente in this context.4 I feel a kinship to all of these artists in that they all wed traditional, archaic, or experimental materials and processes to the content of their work. All experiment with various pigment formulas extensively and most employ gilding.


Professionally for me, when more sculptures can be completed, I will be able to show them as a series. This is not the case at this time since only one pair and one solo throne are finished. A viewing of the sculptural components of my oeuvre to accompany my large-scale paintings is an important professional goal of mine that a one year sabbatical will achieve.


III. Significance of proposal to university, college and programmatic goals


The mission of the College of Fine Arts is to "educate students as artists, as teachers in the arts, as arts researchers, and as life-long audience members who are able to respond to and appreciate the arts. The departments and College create and produce studio and performing arts works in order to support this mission. Finally, the basic goal....will be the teaching of aesthetic sensibility and values to all Illinois State University's students....(and) professional skills to Fine Arts majors."


My proposed research results in finished art work and unique research for the purpose of enhanced teaching and aesthetic engagement. This fully honors the College mission.


Working in a range of areas (painting and sculpture) helps break down the boundaries among the disciplines in the Art Department. Faculty involvement in breaking down discipline boundaries has been a stated goal of the Art Department. I set a good example to students by doing so-working in a range of studio areas and in the computer lab.


Expansion of intermediate painting (Painting III.) so that it is taught as an in-depth materials and techniques course and enhancement of the painting courses I teach.


Expansion of educational web site on lost art techniques which enhances the educational environment and positively promotes our department, college, and university.


IV. Contribution of the outcome of the leave to professional stature of university


Faculty research and creative production brings obvious honor and visibility to the university locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Our efforts in teaching result in the success of our alumni which brings honor to the university.


My sabbatical proposal has at its core a studio research project that reflects on me as an artist, impacts my students with new learning material, and provides wide visibility for the university via the web site I developed from my ongoing studio projects.


The invitations for me to work and exhibit at other university art programs and art centers brings visibility and credit to the department, college and university.

My expertise inspires students to forge their own paths less taken, enriches coursework and creates within my curricula a repository of helpful information.


V. Professional vita


VI. Copy of written summary report filed from last sabbatical/educational leave

Not applicable.



• Created a 23 foot mural in a 130 year old building in Covington, Kentucky by conserving the painted interior wall and using the original layers of paint as a springboard for a recreation of ancient Pompeiian mural art design.



September 14, 1998


Mr. Harold Boyd, Acting Department Chair

Art Department

5620 ISU

Illinois State University

Normal, Illinois 61790-5620


Dear Harold:


This letter is to request that if approved, my one-year sabbatical leave will count toward a year of service in determining eligibility for promotion to full professor.


I am making this request for two reasons. The first reason is that, as Dr. Mottram stated in his justification to the Provost for a senior painting position for the 1999-2000 academic year, the painting area currently has no full professor in painting and only one in drawing, yourself. The painting program has had a luminous history with both Harold Gregor and Ken Holder reaching full professor status and Dr. Gregor receiving the Distinguished Professor status.


We have no woman full professor in the 2-D area, and only one in the entire studio area, Professor Naomi Towner. I believe my sabbatical will greatly contribute to my professional enhancement and to my goal to become a full professor. It will contribute toward gender equity, a very important consideration.


The second reason for my request that a one-year sabbatical be counted toward promotion, is that when I came to Illinois State University, I lost three years toward a sabbatical at my former university. Thus, it is professionally imperative for me to request a full year sabbatical for my professional research. It would be a professional hardship if this valuable year was not counted as a year of service to the university in determining eligibility toward promotion.


Thank you for you time and attention.






Cynthia M. Kukla