Krueger Named University Scholar of the Year

Texas A&M International University recently named Janet Eager Krueger (photo), associate professor of art, the 2002 - 2003 University Scholar of the Year, selecting her from the four College Scholars of the Year, including Dr. Juan Homero Hinojosa, professor and Dean of the College of Science and Technology, Dr. Terry Shepherd, assistant professor of special populations in the College of Education, and Dr. Kannan Raghunandan, Radcliffe Killam Distinguished Professor of accounting, from the College of Business.

The award includes a small stipend, a silver medallion to be worn with her academic regalia, and a designated parking space.

Krueger said she was honored to receive the award and felt it was an affirmation of her work at the University.

"I view it as a reflection of the good job done by both the administration and the faculty in recognizing the arts as an integral part of the academic university. I have been working very hard as an artist as well as an educator, helping to develop a program and a degree plan. Being honored in this way makes me sit back and realize that my efforts are appreciated and acknowledged. Likewise it reminds me that there is a big picture -- what I'm trying to do is what the University is trying to do: establish a strong program in the visual arts. Through the efforts of my colleagues and myself along with the enthusiastic support of the administration, I feel that we're getting close to having that program," explained Krueger.

She thought the factors that lead to her selection included her recent artistic achievements, such as a major commission for the SBC Arena in San Antonio as well as a series of drawings for the USAA headquarters in San Antonio. In addition, she thought that the positive comments she receives from students each year probably helped as well.

Her plans for the next year are focused in large part on getting settled in the new Center for the Fine and Performing Arts.

"For the last five years, I have had one room in which to teach all the studio classes. It was bizarrely easy to lose stuff in; now I have six studios. It's going to be marvelous," she said with a smile.

In addition, Krueger said that she receives many calls asking about art degrees, and she will be working to increase TAMIU's number of offered degrees.

Artistically, Krueger hopes to work this summer on a series of paintings that embody her self-described theme of "South Texan Urban Mythology." When pressed for a definition, she explained they would be images of observed incidents that seem to represent a familiar narrative.

"It will be a reflection of how I see 'anecdotal visions' that I've encountered in the last twenty-odd years that I don't think you'd see anywhere else. These visions have a potential for allegory that isn't there, but looks like it should be."

For example, one scene she plans on painting she saw in Laredo, while driving on Saunders past the city and Catholic cemetery.

"There were three guys mowing grass together. One guy was pushing the mower, another was pushing the wheelbarrow with the gas generator to which the electric mower was attached," Krueger said, "or in Cotulla by the courthouse-a man was standing in the parking lot using a pear burner as sort of a weed whacker. When we drove by later, the whole street was black."

She explained that some of the scenes are humorous, some not so, some are deadly serious.

"They are remarkable in their singularity; you would never see that anywhere else, yet it's perfectly reasonable. It seemed like the thing to do at the time," she said.

Krueger explained that part of her award will go towards encouraging the arts in rural South Texas, as she hopes to auction her parking space near the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, and donate the proceeds to Hecho en Encinal, a non-profit organization dedicated to offering arts, arts education, and cultural activities which she has been involved with for many years.

"The parking space is about a mile from the Center for Fine and Performing Arts; what am I going to do with it?" she laughed.

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