Wicks to Retire After 38 Years; Plans to Complete Various Unfinished Projects Involving Video

This profile is the sixth installment in an ongoing series about the retiring faculty in the Volunteer Retirement Incentives Program. Stephen Wicks, Instructor in Art, will retire this year after 38 years of dedication to teaching and artistic creativity. Following his retirement, Wicks hopes to “seek a balance between wellness, family, creativity, work and play.” He will focus on several projects that he never completed during his career. These projects include a mixed DVD library titled, “Looking for America,” editing and completing a number of video montages on the American Southwest, creating a series of lecture programs discussing media and communication and a film series, “Dances for the Camera” featuring Judith Wombwell, Instructor in Theater and Dance. However, Wicks was not always able to embrace his passion for photography. From 1962-1965 he served in the Unites States Army. Upon return from his term of duty, he moved to New York. “When I moved to New York, I began [my career in photography] as an assistant in the advertisement photography industry,” said Wicks. “I worked my way up to studio manager in what was considered more of an apprenticeship. I really like the documentary approach we used,” Wicks continued. In 1970, Wicks moved to North Carolina to focus on a photography project that depicted average people living primitive lifestyles in the mountains. “Part of my fascination was that I didn’t realize people lived that way. I enjoyed telling their stories,” said Wicks. After working in North Carolina for a year, artist Wingate Paine discovered Wicks’ portfolio. Paine offered to sponsor Wicks’ fellowship as a resident artist at Andover. Wicks accepted and arrived at PA in 1971. Though Wicks had not originally intended to teach, seeing students creating their own narratives in their work inspired him to continue teaching. Wicks said Andover has changed significantly over the course of his tenure. He said, “The biggest change in my experience was the merging of the boys school with Abbot Academy. The diversity in faculty and students made this school more like society and balanced the school. We don’t live in pockets of gender specific regions.” While serving as Chair of the Art Department in the 1990s, Wicks was a strong advocate for the renovation of the Elson Art Center. “We renovated the Elson Art Center by making it more modern and safe, but also preserving the traditional studios. We also showed our commitment to the visual arts by creating the Polk-Lillard Center,” said Wicks. “It is a magnificent resource that allows [us] to supply students with a variety of conceptual and creative assignments,” Wicks continued. The breadth of Andover’s art curriculum exposed Wicks to several forms of art he had not previously explored, such as video and two-dimensional design. He said, “Being asked to teach all visual arts was a great opportunity and I got to experience a broader sense of the language [of art].” “All of the art courses I teach are primarily based on exploring the power of ideas, cultivating intuition, encouraging and developing the students’ professional point of view,” said Wicks. “Beyond the images they create, I hope each student feels they have become a member of a ‘creative audience’ and sense a deeper connection to the world around them,” he continued. Wicks said he has enjoyed working on independent projects over the summers. Over the years, Wicks’ “work moved from still art to video projects.” He attributes this artistic progression to his own “personal growth.” “I’ve been featured in gallery exhibitions, international magazines, and am in the process of converting all my work to final format,” said Wicks. “If I was going to be teaching, these are the students I want to teach. I love helping students broaden their horizons and see the world in a different way.” Wicks plans to continue his passion for visual arts in retirement but also “pay less attention to the clock and give more time and space for curiosity, imagination, and discovery.”