Broad Brushstrokes


Nicholas Dease (’12), fine art with minors in art history and philosophy

Christi Harris, assistant professor of art

Like many CNU students, Nick Dease was looking for a small college close to home. The Mathews, Va., native has long had an interest in philosophy and a talent for art, and the versatility of CNU’s art curriculum has made it possible for him to pursue both and meld them in ways that have sparked his creativity to new levels.

Last summer Nick completed a series of paintings on myth inspired by his interest in existentialism. “The philosophies of Camus, Nietzsche and Sartre have always interested me, and I felt that they lend well to visual illustration. I chose ancient Greek myth as my vehicle because the stories are memorable, universal and dramatic,” he says. With the help of Assistant Professor Christi Harris, Nick secured a grant from the Undergraduate/Graduate Research Council he used to fund his myth series. “Like any great mentor, Professor Harris has always pushed me to go further with my work. She has always supported my ideas and made sure that my art would be constantly improving,” he says.

The grant provided Nick with much-needed cash to buy supplies and framing materials, and covered travel expenses for research into the subject matter at the heart of the paintings. The efforts paid off, as Nick was able to complete the paintings as well as gain exposure to the world of grant funding, which will serve him well after graduation and in a career in the arts. “Nick is a serious student, who both listens to advice and does his own thing,” Harris says. “He is a dedicated student who puts in the time it takes to create and develop artwork.”

Nick has shown the myth series in the Ferguson Center’s Alexick Student Gallery, which has provided a source of feedback he can use to better understand the audience’s viewpoint and grow as an artist. He feels the process of putting the show together was a pivotal learning experience he will benefit from after graduation. He also relishes the feedback CNU’s dedicated arts faculty provides in portfolio reviews, a process intended to ensure students are challenged to always grow in their artwork. “This type of service is rare at universities,” he says. “It’s great to see the faculty so dedicated to improving our work.”

Apart from his classroom and studio labors, Nick is an intern at the Falk Gallery of Art in the Ferguson Center, and a teacher’s assistant for Dr. Belle Pendleton’s art history class. He assists during class as well as by doing preparatory work like finding and compiling images used in classroom discussions. Working in this capacity has provided Nick with a wealth of professional experience that will serve him well in his future endeavors. He is also an avid participant in the philosophy department’s “Film and Philosophy” nights, which include a showing and discussion of the themes portrayed in the film. At CNU he has truly been able to fully explore and pursue his passions.

Nick plans to attend graduate school and earn his MFA. “I can't wait to see how his work develops over the next year for his senior thesis exhibition, and am proud of what he has accomplished,” Harris says. --Brian McGuire  


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