The most recent Mingenback Distinguished Professor found herself pleasantly surprised when she realized she was contemplating a move to central Kansas to accept a teaching position at Bethany College. Virginia McKinney, assistant professor of art – ceramics and sculpture, joined the Bethany faculty last fall and was recently named Mingenback Distinguished Professor.
During her interview process, McKinney said she could tell how invested the students were in the school and in the art department. “The interview process was fascinating to me,” she said. “A group of students were in on the interview and asked really hard-hitting questions. That really impressed me and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I am really considering a move to Kansas.’”
McKinney began teaching art in 1978 and most recently was an artist-in-residence at Armory Arts Center in West Palm Beach, Florida and later became chair of the ceramics department there. Prior to that she taught at Walter State Community College in Morristown, Tennessee and at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Her work in clay and steel will be featured at the 2014 Smoky River Fine Art Show on June 14-15 in Salina. McKinney participates in many juried art shows and sells her work in galleries and museum shops across the country, but her passion is helping students create in the studio.
“I knew at a small school like Bethany there would be a close relationship between students and professors and I really respect that,” she said. “I love the interaction between the students in the studio. It’s great to see how art majors and non-art majors work together, sharing their different perspectives. I truly love it.”
She also credits her co-workers and professors that came before her, like Ray Kaymeyer, for the quality art program at Bethany. “It’s really exciting to be a part of the art department and see it gel and move forward,” she said. “I think we all have a clear idea of where the art department is headed.”
The Mingenback Distinguished Professor is a three year appointment and was established in 1974 by the Mingenback family to support traditional and emerging arts in the fine arts department at Bethany College.