Artist and former UNLV professor Stephen Hendee leaves for the Maryland Institute College of Art to teach 3D studies and contemporary practice in MICA's Foundation's Department, beginning Aug. 1.
The news is bittersweet for many in the community where Hendee and his wife, artist Catherine Borg, have been so influential.
Hendee was hired at UNLV in August 2004 to develop its 3D Foundations and Design Program. The couple immersed themselves in the Las Vegas art community, exhibiting their own work or participating in projects and curating exhibits. Their work in galleries and museums in other cities helped give Las Vegas a voice in the larger art world. Hendee's “Monument to Simulacrum” (stainless steel, 12 feet high and 9 feet in diameter), located in Centennial Plaza next to the Fifth Street School, was recognized by Art in America magazine as one of 2007's best public art projects.
“They did so much for this town, even behind the scenes. I’m worried to see what happens when you take them out of the equation,” says artist and preparator JW Caldwell, whose sentiment is shared by community leaders, artists, former UNLV students and professors, many of whom sent written arguments and pleas to provost Michael Bowers. Additionally, tenured professors Aya Louisa McDonald and Helga Watkins filed letters alleging that the art department’s denial of tenure to Hendee last year was the result of a flawed, secretive and biased effort led by recently retired department chair Mark Burns.
Former students and colleagues have said that Hendee's departure is a huge loss for UNLV’s Department of Art.
“He’s a great teacher and a good mentor,” says New York City artist Yo Fukui, who received his MFA from UNLV in 2005. “He’s the best teacher I had at UNLV. He helped me think more professionally, took me to a different level and changed how I think about art. I’m still following it.”