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Visiting Artists Leave Lasting Legacies

Feb. 22, 2008 — The College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah announced today that it will launch a new artist residency program this year, thanks to a generous gift of over $1 million from Marva and John Warnock. The Marva and John Warnock Endowed Art Residency Program will bring a diverse range of nationally and internationally acclaimed artists to campus for extended residencies that will allow them to become deeply engaged in the education of the U’s studio art students.

“This is an extraordinary gift that will alter the entire landscape of the studio art program at the University of Utah,” said Raymond Tymas-Jones, associate vice president for the arts. “We are deeply grateful to the Warnocks.”

The Warnocks’ gift recognizes the importance of providing students with sustained mentoring by working visual artists. Unlike many guest artist programs, which bring artists to campus for short visits, the Warnock Artist Residency Program will offer visiting artists appointments of at least one and up to two years.

The program is designed to attract both rising stars in the art world as well as artists whose national and international reputations are well established. “By appealing to acclaimed artists at various stages of their careers, we can recruit widely and select those who will truly have the greatest impact on our students,” said Elizabeth Peterson, chair of the department of art and art history. “This will be a nationally prominent residency program that will transform the perspectives of our students and open doors for them in the future.” 

In addition to its program in art history, which offers bachelors and masters degrees, the department of art and art history at the U offers bachelors and masters of fine arts degrees in seven areas of emphasis in studio art, including art education, ceramics, graphic design, painting/drawing, photography/digital imaging, printmaking, and sculpture/intermedia. There are approximately 600 declared undergraduate students and 25 graduate students in any given academic year.  The studio art program hosts a range of annual art shows, including the Annual Student Exhibition, the BFA Senior Exhibition, and bi-annual Alumni and Studio Faculty Exhibitions. It also partners with local arts organizations, public schools, and regional student art exchanges.

“John and I recognize the important role that the arts play and know the difference that mentoring can have in developing talented young artists,” says Marva Warnock. “We are delighted and proud to support the studio arts program at the U and to help connect students to the larger art world. We look forward to welcoming a range of important artists to Utah through this program.”

“We are all so very honored by this gift,” said Michael K. Young, president of the University of Utah. “The arts have always held a place of importance on our campus and in our community and this residency program will add to the strength and reputation of our offerings in the arts.”

The Warnocks have been generous supporters of the University of Utah, with contributions totaling almost $11 million. In addition to the endowed artist residency program, their gifts have established endowed chairs in mathematics and computer science. The Warnocks have also given nearly $7 million to the College of Engineering to support capital projects, including the construction of a new engineering building, which opened in February 2007.

Marva Warnock is a designer and partner with Marsh Design in Palo Alto. She serves on the National Leadership Council for the Utah Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah. She holds a B.S. in sociology from the University of Utah.

John Warnock is co-chairman of the board of directors of Adobe Systems, Inc., a company he co-founded in 1982 with Charles Geschke. He was president of Adobe for his first two years and chairman and CEO for his remaining 16 years at Adobe. Warnock has pioneered the development of world-renowned graphics, publishing, internet and electronic document technologies that have revolutionized the field of publishing and visual communication. He holds six patents. Warnock holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, all from the University of Utah.