Cyndi Gusler, Department Chair
Cyndi Gusler is an EMU alum and an M.F.A. graduate of James Madison University. Cyndi has a strong background in painting and drawing and working with mixed-media. She displayed Conglomerate, a body of work composed of post-consumer, non-recyclable trash at EMU’s Hartzler Art Gallery this past Spring. Cyndi uses cast off objects as the raw material from which she creates alluring three-dimensional forms. Her current work includes paintings on collaged found fabric. Cyndi enjoys nature, hiking, swimming, playing outside with her two children, and attending fine arts performances.
Jerry Holsopple holds the following degrees: B.S., Eastern Mennonite University; M.Div., Mennonite Biblical Seminary; Ph.D. in Communication, European Graduate School Media and Communication Studies Program. In the fall of 2003 Jerry completed his dissertation, Toward a Poetic of Visual Music.
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, where he created a sixty-panel exhibition, using abstract paintings mixed with photographic ink transfers, 7×7: Laments for an Age of Sexualized Power.
Jerry, an artist and renowned digital media producer, teaches photography and digital media-related courses such as Color Photography, 2-D Animation/After Effects, Advanced Photoshop Studio, Alternative Processes, Visual Communication Theory, Documentary Photography and Film and Culture. The latter critically analyzes movies and their connection to popular culture. He led outstanding students to serve the Mennonite Youth Convention for twenty years. The most recent convention was in Columbus in 2009. This convention also featured a twelve-foot dalle-verre stained glass cross created by Jerry. Two VACAalumni will direct future conventions.
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 on the Hallmark Channel. For more information see Journey Toward Forgiveness. In his 12 years at Mennonite Media, Jerry produced “Turning Toward Jesus”, a curriculum to explore Jesus and faith. He produced several series: Rhythms of Peace, Beyond the News and Cloud of Witnesses, and developed the Third Way Café (www.thirdway.com) Mennonite Media’s web site.
Jerry has three digitography pieces touring nationally as part of CIVA’s (Christians
in the Visual Arts) show, Art & Text: Images, Concepts and Insights.
Jerry spent the academic year 2009-2010 at LCC International University in Lithuania as a Fulbright Scholar teaching photography and documentary classes. He also exhibited an infrared series of photographs and was curator for several student shows. His most recent photographic exhibits are a series of emulsion pulls from infrared photographs shot in the Baltics.
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 holds a B.A. in Art from Houghton College and an M.F.A. in Computer Art (Emphasis in Multimedia and Interactivity) from Savannah College of Art and Design.
Steven David Johnson is Professor of Visual and Communication Arts at EMU in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. His photography of the natural world has appeared in Orion, BBCFocus Magazine, National Geographic Kids Books, National Science Teachers Association Press books, and numerous conservation publications and journals. He is vice-president of Virginia Wilderness Committee.
In 2013, he introduced a new university course in Conservation Photography. Topics include aesthetic responses to the natural world, visual documentation of ecosystems, and an exploration of the relationship between human communities and the natural world. In the course of the semester, students work on a major real-world project in partnership with regional conservation organizations.
When not in the office, you’ll probably find Steve half-immersed in a vernal pond photographing Appalachian salamanders.
Concerning teaching, Steve writes:
I want to encourage students to stretch their faith, intellect, and creativity in a challenging interdisciplinary environment that promotes the development of a poetic sensibility. Artists have the ability to transform their culture and communities through images and stories. In order to serve in this way, image-makers need more than technical competency. They need to possess a conceptual and aesthetic framework that will allow them to communicate effectively, passionately, and ethically. My approach to teaching attempts to provide this by weaving history, ethics, discussions, and studio exploration into a coherent whole.
Steve is married to Anna Maria (a writer and artist). They have two children, Eliza and Magdalena.
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. Outside of art, she enjoys music, nature and spending time with her family.