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The Faces of Marylhurst Project

This project is more important than the pictures. It is really all about a certain kind of social set of coincidences. It is about constituency. It is about a group of people who strive to work together in a place, in order to make something good happen.

It is about us, people who are, or who have been, in a special time and place; all of them associated with the institution of Marylhurst University.

— Dennis Cunningham, in his artist’s statement

About the creative process
by Dennis Cunningham

The process that I am using comes out of a yearly practice of mine, which is to make self-portrait, pastel drawings, based on photographs, each summer during my annual drawing workshop at Marylhurst University. I started making a yearly, summertime set of self-portrait drawings in that workshop in 2006, and I have continued the practice to date.

My self-appointed yearly task led me directly to a newly improved drawing process — and the new process has led me directly to a new project, the creation of a different set of portrait drawings, not of myself, but of others:

The Faces of Marylhurst Project.

In the past, I have preferred to use the most recent photograph of myself as a reference, and I have projected it onto a drawing wall and used it as the basis for the original pastel drawings.The process provided me with the latitude to experiment broadly with color, line, and scale, and it allowed me to quickly work in a serial manner with the same reference photo/drawing.I have used digital photographs, downloaded them to a laptop, printed them, copied them to clear film, and then projected them to the wall using an overhead projector.Sometimes I drew directly onto the photographic image before I projected it, often rendering the photograph into a line drawing. The process was somewhat lengthy and cumbersome, but it was workable.

In 2014, I arrived on the first day of the workshop without a new photograph of myself, and without any apparent prospect of creating one to use in the studio.

Necessity, being the mother of invention, provoked me to realize that I could revolutionize my process. I have an iPad. It has a good camera and a rather large viewing screen.

Why not take a photo, tape a piece of clear plastic film directly onto the viewing screen of the iPad, draw directly onto the film, rendering the photograph into a line drawing which could then be immediately projected onto the drawing wall. I tried it and it worked very well. I have adopted it.

The photo is not downloaded; it is not copied. Most of the latency in my process has been eliminated. I can go immediately from a photo to the original line drawing and from the line drawing to the original pastel drawing without waiting to download and print. I do not need a computer, a printer, or a copier.

Additionally, much of the work required to interpret the photographic information (converting it into line) is done directly by hand onto the clear film and in a much smaller size than the pastel drawing. This makes the process considerably easier and much more direct. The use of the iPad is now an integral tool that I am using in this newly improved process in order to make the drawings for The Faces of Marylhurst Project.


The Faces of Marylhurst Project is on exhibit in the Mayer Art Gallery until March 12, 2015.

Featuring the faces of:

Dennis Cunningham, teacher

David Abbott, former student

Jason Agelone, student

Michelle Ashley, student

Marlene Bauer, teacher

Laura Beer, director, music therapy program, and co-chair, Department of Music

Charlotte Bierman, student

Debrah Bokowski dean, School of Graduate Studies

Lorraine Brazier, student

Alyx Brennan, student

Torey Browne, teacher/MA graduate

Melissa Cadish, program administrator

Joan Carroll, student

Susan Carter, chair, MA in Interdisciplinary Studies Department

Brenden Clenaghen, teacher

Will Cheng, student

Isabel Salas Cisneros, student

Sondra Churchill, former graphic designer

Patty Coatney, former assistant to the provost, BFA graduate

Rich Conway, student

Jonnel Covault, BA graduate

Kate Croft, student

Adam Dabrowski, BA graduate

Jan Dabrowski, dean, College of Arts & Sciences

Michael Dambach, BFA graduate

Donna Davis, admissions adviser

David Denny, chair, Department of Culture & Media

Julia Dittmer, teacher/BFA graduate

Kevin Drake, student

Simeon Dreyfuss, chair, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

Darcy Edgar, teacher/MAIS graduate

Matt Everleigh, student

Libby Farr, teacher

Cheryl Fish, student

Marnie Frank, BFA graduate

Josh Gross, BFA graduate

Russell Hailey, security

Stephen Hayes, former teacher

Kim Heinrich, BA graduate, program administrator

Jay Heinrich, BA graduate, cashier

D’Jeana Henderson, student

Laura Hogan, student

Nancy Hoover, university librarian

Terri Hopkins, former director & curator, The Art Gym

Kirk Howard, reference librarian

Kayla Huitt, student

Mackenzie Hurd, student

Nancy Hiss, director, interior design program, and co-chair, Department of Art & Interior Design

Joy Huth, student

Reiko Igarashi, teacher

Arlene Inama, student

Fred Issacs, teacher

Coco Jones, BA graduate, academic adviser

Rod Johnson, chief assistant to the president

Perrin Kerns, teacher

Linda Kozen, student

Michelle Krause, assistant campus store manager

Charlie Lammers, maintenance/ facilities

Michael Lammers, former VP of Finance & Facilities

Carmen Lembo, student

Steve Levy, life drawing model

Rebecca Lockwood, program administrator

Karen Lynch, program administrator

Maruska Lynch, graduate admissions adviser

Sr. Joan Maiers, teacher

Susan Marcus, chair, MBA Department

Brian McMorris, student

Laura Narehood, benefits specialist

Debbie Ooten, reception

Mike Ooten, maintenance/facilities

Sr. Noreen O’Leary, former teacher

Bri’anne Parkin, student

Karen Pederson, web marketing manager

Larry Peterson, housekeeping manager

Michael Phou, IT specialist

Sandy Pittenger, donor stewardship manager

David Plotkin, former provost

Michelle Poulette, student

Lance Pynes, teacher

Carol Radich, student

Christopher Rauschenberg, former teacher

Dylan Reeker, student

Whitney Ringwald, student

Melody Rose, president

Barbara Rollins, consultant

Rich Rollins, teacher

Coby Rutledge, maintenance/facilities

Jenny Sasser, chair, Department of Human Sciences

Tad Savinar, consultant, former teacher

Laura Sequeira, admissions adviser

Blake Shell, director & curator, The Art Gym & Belluschi Pavilion

Kate Simmons, BFA graduate

Justin Smith, director, choral studies and co-chair, Department of Music

Stephanie Speight, BFA graduate

Anne Stevens, student

Sr. Carole Strawn, former news and publications manager

Mark Struloef, facilities director

Paul Sutinen, director, art programs and co-chair, Department of Art & Interior Design

Jeff Sweeney, chair, Department of Communication Studies

Sarah Tedrick, student

Dhani Toney, student

Teresa Thacker, student

Ashley Thomas, student

Christine Turner, chair, Department of Art Therapy Counseling

Jordan Van Sise, student

Mickey Weaver, BA graduate

Sara Webb, student

Michael Whelan, campus store manager

Grace Wickander, student

Tori Wortham, student leadership council president

Dennis Cunningham is a renowned Northwest artist, best known for his work in block prints, including his recent illustrations in William Stafford’s The Osage Orange Tree. He has been teaching art at Marylhurst University since 1986.

Photography by Rich Rollins.