Indiana University East will hold a special tribute to Tom Thomas (1945-2009), late associate professor fine of fine arts, at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 28, in Vivian Auditorium. The tribute will honor his immense impact on the campus and its students.
For over 30 years, Tom taught fine arts to undergraduate students. He was the founder of the Whitewater Valley Annual Art Competition. The WVACC now attracts hundreds of artists for the unique experience of being juried by a nationally-known artist or curator who openly critiques all submitted entries before choosing the top works for the exhibit.
IU East Chancellor Emeritus David Fulton will be one of the speakers at the tribute. Fulton said Tom never discouraged his students but he encouraged, supported and even provoked them to continually improve in their abilities and their talents.
“He was in fact a teacher who touched a large community of artists and art lovers, many who only realized that love through knowing Tom,” Fulton said. “Tom brought a unique vision of the role of art in society, although I do not think he would say it quite like that. He would probably say something like art is in everyone and that it was his job to help everyone express the art that was inside them, whether by doing art or experiencing others’ art.”
Tom’s biomorphic and lyrical abstracts are in galleries in California, New York, Indiana and Florida. Tom’s works have been included in the first and second editions of Contemporary American Painting and magazines including Golf Shores, End, Foyer, Naples Illustrated, and Florida Design.
Tom was born in Auburn, Ind., on November 22, 1945. He attended Montpelier High School and graduated in 1963. He was offered a cross country scholarship to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In 1964, he was a member of the cross country and track team for one season. Tom was also a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
After graduating from Miami in 1968, Tom taught art to junior high and high school students at Union High School in Liberty. He coached cross country and track.
Tom returned to Miami University for graduate courses to earn his MAT in education and student-taught at Eaton High School in Eaton, Ohio. He received a graduate assistantship and earned his Master in Fine Arts degree.
In August 1975, Tom moved to Richmond and began teaching at IU East. He earned several faculty teaching awards most recently in April 2009, Tom received the Chancellor’s Faculty Award for outstanding all-around achievement by an IU East faculty member.
Tom received Indiana University faculty awards including the W. George Pinnell Award for Outstanding Service in 1998 and the Amoco Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1995. He was selected as a member of the Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) in 1989.
The public is welcome to share memories or photographs of Tom and RSVP to the event on the Tom Thomas Tribute Web site at www.iue.edu/tribute.