Larry Schwarm's focus will be WSU students
Private support brings the noted photographer to Wichita State as a faculty fellow
Larry Schwarm, will share his knowledge with WSU students and the photography department as a new faculty fellow.
Award-winning photographer Larry Schwarm, known for his dramatic images of the Kansas landscape and heart-wrenching scenes of tornado destruction in his hometown of Greensburg, will begin teaching photography at Wichita State this fall.
Schwarm’s appointment as a faculty fellow in the College of Fine Arts was made possible through the support of art enthusiasts and friends who admire his work, says Rodney Miller, college dean.
“The role of donors and private gifts was absolutely crucial,” he says. “If it were not for these friends stepping up and making their commitment, this would not have happened.”
Current contributors are Kelly Callen, Eric Engstrom '66, Mike Michaelis and A. Scott and Carol Ritchie.
|“He brings an international reputation to Wichita State as an artist, as well as a long and storied passion for teaching.”
- Rodney Miller, College of Fine Arts dean
Schwarm, who just ended a 25-year career teaching photography at Emporia State University, will be a half-time fellow working primarily with graduate students in the School of Art & Design, but also providing guidance as the school works to build its photography program.
“We are looking at how we can revamp and expand our photography program and make it more relevant to the 21st century,” Miller says. “He will be a valuable asset. He brings an international reputation to Wichita State as an artist, as well as a long and storied passion for teaching.”
Schwarm rose to national prominence about 10 years ago when his monograph, “On Fire,” was chosen from more than 500 submissions to be the inaugural winner of the First Book Prize in Photography. “On Fire” documented the annual ritual of controlled burns on the Kansas prairie.
Among the Flint Hills ranches he photographed for the book was one owned by the Ritchies, who developed a friendship with him.
“When we first became aware that they were trying to fund a position for him, we thought it would be a great idea to help,” says Scott Ritchie, an art enthusiast and longtime WSU supporter. "His photos capturing the burning of pasture land in the Flint Hills are what really made us take notice of him. What he’s able to portray in his photographs is really quite outstanding.”
Schwarm, who lives in Wichita with his wife, Peg Bicker, a physician, says that teaching energizes him.
“Teaching keeps everything in the forefront, keeps everything current,” he says. And I’ve always learned a great deal from my students, too.”
Schwarm has shown his work in numerous exhibits throughout the United States. He is one of 80 artists featured in an exhibit that opened June 28 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum titled “A Democracy of Images.”
“We all have a lot of memories that are buried somewhere in our brains,” said Schwarm. “We can remember them more vividly through the photographs that we take.”
To help ensure that Larry Schwarm will be able to continue teaching at Wichita State, please contact Diana Gordon, WSU Foundation director of development for the College of Fine Arts, at 316-978-7307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.