SUE SAVAGE: AN APPRECIATION

silver bowl

. . . "Cow in the Kitchen," the endeavor made and sold hand-painted clothing. In 1995, Tony Askew, the director of the Art program, invited Sue to teach an Art for Children class at the college. That task soon expanded into a full-time role in which Sue taught painting, drawing, crafts and other skills, though she has continued teaching the art class for prospective elementary school teachers. "Sue is a huge loss to Westmont," Andrew Mullen claims. "The course she taught for future teachers, Art for Children, was consistently the highest rated course in the Liberal Studies major. The individual feedback she gave to each student was itself a work of art—as precise, thorough, and worthy-of-pondering as one of her silver-bowl paintings."

Several of those silver-bowl paintings have been exhibited on campus, including one commissioned by the President's Office. Anyone who has looked carefully at them will realize something remarkable: they do not include silver paint. Instead, the impression of a silver, reflective surface is created by the many-colored images that are mirrored on the bowl's surface. In many ways that symbolizes Sue's own work as a faculty member: her gifts are evident in the colors and vitality of her students' work and in the qualities that she brings forth in colleagues. As Lisa DeBoer notes, Sue "is like the beautiful silver bowls she paints so compellingly. She is made of valued, and valuable material, but has shaped that into something beautiful in its useful, quiet receptivity." "What is more valuable to me than the best day of your teaching," one student observes, "is even the worst day of your encouragement. Your encouragement—to challenge myself, to grow, and to put my best into my work—is immensely powerful because of who has been giving it."

"The bowl intrigues me, " Sue writes, "as a stimulating, playful, and technically challenging subject to paint. Unpretentious in design, yet complex in its fascinating visual surface, I appreciate its historical tradition as well as its innate symbolic evocation of purity, refinement, and redemption. Often given as a trophy or prize for a notable accomplishment, the physical existence of this vessel has been tempered by fire, and through that ordeal stands redeemed. As I gaze at this vessel I see these distinctive physical and symbolic qualities as a compelling parallel to the characteristics of Christian faith. The attributes of both are eternal and enduring, mysterious and profound, joyful and abiding."

Shortly after accepting a full-time post at Westmont, Sue took over chairing the department, a role she maintained for a decade. At Sue's recent retirement dinner, Lisa recounted the many accomplishments during those years. The department substantially revised the curriculum, moving from 2-credit studio courses to 4-credit ones. Sue and her colleagues worked through the impact of the college's new general education program on their own curriculum, and saw the typical graduating class grow from 5-6 majors to 17-20 majors a year. As chair, Sue guided the recruitment and development of two full-time colleagues, 10 part-time colleagues, and three departmental assistants. She also help create an endowed chair position for a full-time director for the new museum. Along with many others, she assisted with the design of two art facilities and helped direct the actual construction of one of them, even identifying the specific location of the power outlets.

Tony Askew, who originally hired Sue at Westmont, had special words for her retirement: " It was a great day for Westmont to have you join the Art Department and the faculty. You are loved by your colleagues and have modeled a Christ-centered life to a multitude of grateful students. Your paintings reflect the light and shine that you have reflected to all of us."