SSU-UIS 40th Anniversary

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  • Memories of CAM Program Early Years 1974-1976 at SSU

    In 1973, a professor at Oberlin gave me information about a new program in Community Arts Management (CAM) at Sangamon State University directed by Dave Sennema. I did not act on it for a year, but my husband Frank and I traveled to Springfield by train and bus to check out the school in 1974.  I entered the program fall of 1974. Our  CAM classes took place in the Capitol Street building downtown, where we parked on the roof of a nearby garage.

    Our group was the second class in the CAM program. There had been two students in the first CAM program, and there were now about eight of us in the program..  We took different courses at the downtown building and at the main campus in the south part of town.  At the time, there were only a few buildings on the main campus - the library, the auditorium and a classroom building.  Cornfields came right up to the edge of the campus.  As someone from the East coast, I found this interesting.

    I remember seeing some great folk performers who came to town.  Richard and Linda Thompson (while they were still together) performed at a wonderful coffeehouse on Capitol Street next door to our classroom building. (Richard Thompson became well known later in the band "Fairport Convention."  Jean Ritchie came to the main campus auditorium. This was my first time seeing her live. A few years after leaving SSU, I was able to purchase my own dulcimer, and would be fortunate to see her several more times in Greater Cincinnati. Back then, I did not suspect that the dulcimer would lead to my present career as a performing musician.

    During the first year, we rotated internships in local arts organizations and took many other courses on campus. The most unusual thing I remember doing was working with CAM student Debbie Van Nest to paint a mural with different underwater creatures taken from children's paintings at a local elementary school. The students had made colorful drawings of fish and underwater creatures, which we designed into a wall mural. One day, the tornado sirens went off and we hated to get off our ladders while we were in the middle of painting, but we reluctantly joined the children sitting with their hands over their heads in the hallway.  On the way, I glanced out the window and saw the sky the color of pea soup with a lavender stripe of light near the ground.  The pea soup part started to form a point like the bottom of an ice cream cone.  We sat down in a hurry and covered our heads.  The tornado did not touch down that day, luckily. This was part of a class called Creativity taught by artist Maura Formigoni.

    I also had my first professional singing job at SSU, when Professor Anna May Smith asked me to entertain at the Faculty Club in the spring of 1975. This also sowed the seeds for my music career.

    The second year, we interned at different organizations around the country and returned to Springfield to share experiences and to write a collaborative manual.  I have not returned to Springfield since 1976, and imagine that the campus has grown beyond those initial few buildings sitting in the cornfields.

    These days, I am a free-lance Celtic harper, composer and recording artist in Greater Cincinnati after having had day jobs in public relations, advertising, and directing the alumni association for a local art school in the past.  My husband Frank performs with me on bodhran drum when I'm not playing solo.  We will be performing and teaching several workshops in Asheville, NC in late October, 2010 for Southeastern Harp Weekend.  Photos of us can be found at this link at the bottom of the page:   I have used the management skills in my harp career and helping to run some local festivals. Indirectly, they have been helpful with financial and legal issues of caregiving for elderly parents.

    I have fond memories of the camaraderie of our CAM group and some fun parties, like Don Adams' omlette party and the white elephant party where we all brought something to give away in lieu of gifts at holiday time. We spent the evening laughing at everything people brought.  For poor graduate students, this was a wonderful party.

    I would enjoy hearing from other CAM alums.

    Nancy Bick Clark,  M.A. 1976 SSU

    My story, question or comment may be used in other 40 Years publicity materials, such as flyers, web pages, the online discussion board, etc.

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