Professor Kelly VanderBrug believes her job is to “walk alongside” students as they develop into artists and human beings. The art department, with its strong community between students and faculty, aids in that effort. “You will be known and we will journey with you as you find direction in your artistic life and your life lived artfully,” she says.
She helps students find their artistic directions in many ways, including within the framework of North Park’s Christian, urban, and multicultural focus. She looks at North Park as “taking its Christian identity seriously but not defining Christian experience too narrowly.”
Professor VanderBrug also thinks and talks a lot about the concept of attention. “I encourage students to not assume but to instead know and see—to experience directly those things and people outside their prior experience,” she says. This relates both to the process of making and the experience of living faithfully—attention as seeing, attention as prayer, attention as finding direction in art and all of life, she adds.
Her classes also bring in art from artists of different backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, and perspectives, and she takes her art history students to museums and galleries in Chicago, as well as on architectural tours that highlight the city’s historical skyscrapers and plethora of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings.
Professor VanderBrug has also advised Art Club and worked with students mounting artwork around gender issues and creating visual elements of their one-act theatre productions. She is a practicing artist who shows her work regularly in Chicago and nationally.