Faculty: Dr. Cynthia Bickley-Green | Eastern North Carolina Now

Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services. The author of this post is Ken Buday.

Photo: Rhett Butler

    Ask Dr. Cynthia Ann Bickley-Green about her hometown, and she's likely to ask which one.

    The professor of art education in the School of Art and Design at East Carolina University grew up in a military family, living in areas as varied as Colorado, Washington, D.C., Italy and even Libya where her father worked as a civilian for the Air Force.

    She remembers walking on wide sidewalks to elementary school. She remembers swimming and snorkeling in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea. She remembers learning to speak Italian. She remembers falling in love with art.

    "I took my first Saturday art class at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center when I was in the third grade," Bickley-Green said.

    Her passion for art remained as she moved to Italy, where her mother was born.

    "I think that my sixth-grade teacher told my parents that I had a flair for art and hence I was enrolled in the Italian art academies when we were traveling," Bickley-Green said. " ... I went to La Brera art academy as a special student because I was too young to be admitted as a regular student. By this time, I was a junior in high school. I had to take a drawing test to be admitted to the academy."

    The family returned to the United States, and she obtained bachelor's and master's degrees in art from the University of Maryland and embarked on a teaching career.

Dr. Cynthia Bickley-Green describes the details of one of her most recent paintings in a classroom in the School of Art and Design.
    "When I was teaching at universities and colleges, I was intrigued at the range of abilities that I saw in my students," Bickley-Green said. "I always was asking what should we be teaching them first. There is no single answer to this question."

    She later obtained her doctorate from the University of Georgia before making her way to ECU in 1993 to continue her teaching career.

    "I have enjoyed the freedom I have here to pursue my interests and research," she said. "I also enjoy the plantings and grounds."

    When not working, Bickley-Green said she enjoys painting and has won numerous awards for her work in various juried art shows.

    "I love to work in the studio making things," she said.

    She has been named the North Carolina Art Education Association Award for Higher Education Art Educator of the Year three times, most recently in 2018-19. In 2014, she received the Meryl Fletcher de Jong Service Award from the Women's Caucus of the National Art Education Association. The annual award recognizes an art educator who has made noteworthy service contributions to art education as an advocate of equity for women and all people who encounter injustice.

    She was a 2019 UNC Board of Governors Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award nominee, and just three years after arriving at ECU, received a Distinguished Service Award from the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center.

    Bickley-Green was also on the steering committee for the first National Conference for Women in the Visual Arts in 1972.

    She admits that teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic is different.

    "I have learned to use Zoom and Webex for instruction, but I am lonely," she said. "I love to work with students and see them face to face in the studio."

    However, she said the pandemic may be giving people more time for artistic creativity.

    "It will be interesting to see if this time of reflection results in increased creative activity. It certainly has given me a chance to focus on my painting and to work out new composition techniques and creative processes," she said. " ... The pandemic has given us time to reflect and create. It might be a calming activity in these troublesome times when we cannot do many other things."

    What I do at ECU: I am the coordinator of the art education program in the School of Art and Design. I teach art education undergraduates and graduates, and I also like to teach color and design for non-art majors.
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