Visual & Communication Arts Dept


Jerry Holsopple
Professor of Visual & Comm Art

Jerry Holsopple, an artist, photographer and renowned videographer, teaches photography and digital media-related courses. Jerry was the Artist in Residence at The Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary during the fall of 2015. He created a major project, 7×7: Laments for an Age of Sexualized Power. Jerry spent the 2009-2010 academic year as a Fulbright scholar at LCC International University in Lithuania. Jerry is the recipient of more than a dozen awards in recognition of his video, public service announcements, and websites. Journey Toward Forgiveness, a documentary that he produced, originally aired on ABC in December of 2001 and was aired again in 2003 and 2008 on the Hallmark Channel. Jerry’s photographic work has periodically been on exhibit and two series, “On the Way” and “Art of the Call” are permanently installed. While much of Jerry’s work focuses on the visual he also enjoys playing acoustic stringed instruments such as guitars, mandolins and bouzoukis, and writing songs. Jerry and his wife Mary, have two children, Dirk and Kate.

Steven Johnson
Department Chair and Associate Professor

In addition to teaching, Steve has a professional background as a Director of Digital Media, webmaster, and photographer.

Photographic credits include Orion, BBC Focus Magazine, NSTA books, National Geographic Traveler, Blue Ridge Country, Sufi Journal, Wings,,, and The London Guardian. Steve’s photographic imaged and portfolios have been featured in the journals: Ruminate, Numéro Cinq, Flycatcher, Newfound, Pan, and Rock and Sling.

Kirsten Beachy
Assistant Professor

Kirsten serves as director of EMU’s Core Curriculum. She earned her MFA in creative writing at West Virginia University. She is a contributing editor to The Tusculum Review and edited the anthology Tongue Screws and Testimonies: Poems, Stories, and Essays Inspired by the Martyrs Mirror. Kirsten co-chaired Mennonites Writing VI: Solos and Harmonies, a bi-national writing conference, in Spring 2012.

She lives in Briery Branch with her husband, daughters, a bevy of backyard chickens and ducks, several hives of honeybees, and Sophie the cat.

Barbara Fast

Fast, a paper maker, has recently been combining interests in art history, politics, and current events in a series of “Madonna” mixed media pieces inspired by Medieval altarpieces.They involve such diverse media as gold leaf and handmade barbed wire and techniques such as collage, computer printing, and machine quilting on both fabric and hand made paper.

In the fall of 2011 Fast was one of 11 Mennonite Artists selected to have work placed in the new Mennonite Church, USA building in Elkhart Indiana. Her piece, Good Seed on the Land is a 9 ½’x 3 ½’ triptych of abaca hand made paper and pigments.

For a second year, she enjoyed being part of a three-person team as juror for the Art Exhibition at VMRC which draws hundreds of submissions from around the country. The exhibit has won the reputation as one of the top art shows in the area.

Spring semester of ’08, Fast was granted a sabbatical term in Egypt. In addition to a teaching assignment at the Coptic Cathedral under Mennonite Central Committee in Cairo, she studied major ancient monuments and artifacts in Cairo, Giza, Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel, Alexandria, and the Sinai.

A second interest was an investigation into contemporary art in Egypt where she visited galleries in Cairo and Alexandria. She was also fascinated by life in one of the largest developing cities in the world and learning about the complexities of Muslim/Christian relationships in the Middle East.

Cyndi Gusler

Cyndi Gusler is an EMU alum and an MFA graduate of James Madison University. Cyndi has a background in painting and drawing and working with mixed-media.

Much of the current art work that occupies Cyndi’s mind and hands is ephemeral in nature. Pulling substances such as used coffee grounds from the waste stream and re-appropriating them as drawing mediums, is an integral part of the process and content of the work. While sort-lived, these drawings hold potency in the memory of the seer.

Meanwhile, in the studio, paintings are blooming. Cyndi and her daughter Lily, now age 11, have been creating paintings and drawings together for 6 years employing Lily’s free spirit and strong sense of composition to set the tone, pace and structure of a painting while Cyndi’s experienced hand finishes the work. The conversation builds as layers of paint, drawn lines, and instinct intermingle.

Cyndi is also know for her work with cast-off objects which are used as raw material create alluring three-dimensional forms. Her work includes paintings on found fabric, and intricate, found object sculpture. Her show, Conglomerate, a group of sculptures that reference raw minerals, is made from post-consumer found objects. Conglomerate has traveled to California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and to several galleries in Virginia.

Cyndi’s work includes a mosaic mural wall inspired by the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, commissioned by the Massanutten Regional Library in Harrisonburg, VA. The mural which depicts a mockingbird perched atop a tangling vine of bittersweet, is part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read Project.

Additionally, she has directed a series of Trash Fashion shows, runway fashion extravaganzas of innovative attire created from cast-off materials. This year Cyndi directs an invitational at the Phoenix Convention Center on July 4th. Click links below to read and see glimpses from two of the shows: Columbus, OH for Mennonite Youth Convention:

EMU Trash Fashion Show:

Cyndi enjoys collaborative art-making, organic gardening, biking and hiking with her family, and attending fine arts performances.

Anna Westfall
Assistant Professor

Anna Westfall earned an M.F.A. from the University of New Mexico and a B.F.A. from James Madison University. Westfall is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work often explores the complex relationship between memories, genetics, cycles in nature and the larger system of culture that inform identity. Her sculptures and installations attempt to create the essence and energy found in the natural world while speaking to human perception and understanding of its character. With various materials including porcelain, steel, video projections, acrylic sheet and light, she attempts to capture the ephemeral and fluid nature of identity as well, while speaking to the duality of an immutable essence that exists beyond the material. In addition, Westfall is interested in the value of functional objects that are used in daily life, which shape personal and cultural aesthetics. Westfall has exhibited her work in Virginia, New Mexico, Georgia, Washington D.C., and Massachusetts.

Adjunct Faculty


Gretchen Maust
Administrative Assistant

Gretchen worked as a social worker following college graduation and returned to EMU (then EMC) as assistant/staff writer in media relations (now the Marketing Dept.). She and her husband, Robert, also an EMU grad, worked as a freelance writer/photographer team for a number of years, traveling to Africa and Europe to cover stories for numerous church agencies and NGOs. In the early and then again late 90s she returned to EMU as office coordinator in social work and sociology and during that time earned her masters in counseling. She then worked as in intensive in-home therapist for children and families for a number of years before returning to EMU to help launch the Center for Interfaith Engagement (CIE) in 2008, later dividing her time between that position and office coordinator for EMU’s Visual & Communication Arts (VaCA) and Theater Departments. In 2013 she accepted the re-designed full-time administrative assistant position for the reconfigured VaCA and Theater Departments, and still enjoys contributing to the work of CIE.

Gretchen and Robert are parents of three adult children – all now married – and grandparents to three granddaughters. They live in an intentional community on a partnership farm in Keezletown.

In her spare time she enjoys knitting, crocheting, reading, cooking, walking and hanging out with their little doggies, Nora and Falafel.

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