Visual Arts department waves goodbye to Gambill


Staff And Wire Reports

Norman Gambill, head of the SDSU Department of Visual Arts since 1984, will be honored at a retirement party from 3 to 5 p.m. May 4, in the Lewis and Clark room of The Union.

“It has been interesting and intriguing (at SDSU). We have gone from 40 majors to 240 majors,” said Gambill. “I have hired all faculty currently in the program. It has grown by word of mouth.”

Gambill, also the director of The Ritz Gallery and professor in the history of art and design, received his master’s degree from the University of Iowa with a thesis in Chinese art along with examinations in Asian art and Italian Renaissance art.

He completed his Ph.D. in humanities at Syracuse University in New York. Doctoral examinations were in the histories of 20th century American fine arts, motion pictures, Italian Renaissance art, and radio and stage drama.

Visual arts is not just graphic design, which is what everyone thinks of, said Gambill. It’s painting, sculpting, ceramics and art history as well.

Before coming to SDSU, Gambill was assistant professor of art, history, and school of art and design in the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1966 to 1983. He also held the title of assistant dean there from 1968 to 1976.

From 1969 to 1983, Gambill conducted research in Hollywood and New York City in the field of film history. He interviewed dozens of Academy Award-winning artists, designers and directors. He published analyses of the Dada and Surrealist films of Man Ray and the first scholarly articles on motion picture production design and makeup.

In his 26 years at SDSU, Gambill said the visual arts department has been integrated from a service department into helping economically development the state.

More recently, Gambill co-founded DVAGI (Design and Visual Arts Group, Inc.), a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing practical, interdisciplinary material culture in the region. In 2005 and 2010, Gambill accepted an invitation to attend a conference from the Oxford Round Table at Oxford University in England. His retirement plans include writing, working on three book projects and just enjoying his house, which is the second oldest Victorian house in Brookings.

Gambill’s advice to students: “Students need to be competitive and strong. Don&rProxy-Connection: keep-aliveCache-Control: max-age=0

uo;t let excuses get in the way and screw the cynicism.”