I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to know the courageous teacher, artist, mentor, and interdisciplinarian, Kimberly Anderson Ritchie. She is well respected around the Plymouth State University campus since her start here four years ago. She studied printmaking and environmental issues in Grad School. I personally had the pleasure of having my 2D: Color and Content class and the opportunity to work closely with her on an interdisciplinary project 10,000 Steps: Her Long Walk For Water during the fall semester of 2015. She is an essential part of the PSU community and I recently had the opportunity to interview her about her life’s work and involvement at PSU.
Mrs. Ritchie went in depth telling me about the many hats she wears for her different roles here at PSU. To start, she is the printmaking coordinator for the art department, the 2D class coordinator, and advisor to many students in the Art Department. From my personal experience, I see how deeply she engages and responds to her students in their artwork and participation in the arts, always encouraging to dig a little deeper and work for that extra special expression and outcome. “I encourage students to reach across boundaries within their work if it suits their path or interest” said Ritchie in our interview. She takes pride in displaying all the work of her classes and students. The printmaking and 2D classes have work displayed in the Silver Center for the Arts, as well as the Student Juried Exhibition and the Presidents Juried show.
Beyond that, she is an active artist who has done artist residencies and has work displayed nationally and intentionally. She specializes in printmaking, but explores mediums far beyond that in her own work and in the classroom. She says that she enjoys printmaking so much “because it is so versatile, includes the book arts …and it is quite large of a field”. So there is a lot of room for exploration.
Ritchie also did a recent collaboration with Shandra McLane, developing a STEAM based curriculum, which stands for Science Technology Engineering Art and Math. The two collaborators traveled to Sweden to teach this curriculum in September of 2015 and taught it to college age Afghanistan, Somalian and Syrian Refugees. You can read more about it on her blog.
She’s had a large involvement with an interdisciplinary project at PSU, the 10,000 steps project, which I had a close involvement with as well. The project collaborated the 2D class, an environmental issues class, and fell under the international week. It engaged the arts and sciences to make print artwork about environmental water issues that people face in other parts of the world, we may not consider. It promoted the awareness of these issue and involved a lot of interdisciplinary work from students and faculty, you can read about it more here. Then Professor Ritchie and myself, with other students had the opportunity to talk about our interdisciplinary work with the project to the President and Dean’s of PSU as well as the New Hampshire Legislature at a brunch in December.
Ritchie also studied the discipline of environmental issues in college. She explained that her upbringing always left her seeing things through an environmental lense and draws on that in her artwork. It is easy to see the connection between her background, previous experience and the 10,000 steps project. She also explains that she would like to work further with science faculty on observing their practices and making art about those subjects.
It is truly inspiring to know a female leader such as Kimberly Ritchie, paving the way with artwork and interdisciplinary work here at PSU. It’s thrilling to see the art and sciences come together in such a meaningful and beautiful way and Ritchie has done that time and time again. I cant wait to see the future with more collaborations and interdisciplinary work for Professor Ritchie and the whole PSU community.