Liz Kowalchuk is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the Visual Art Department and the Museum Studies Program. She formerly served as the Associate Dean of the School of the Arts, heading one of the five major divisions of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. With degrees in drawing and painting (BFA, University of Georgia), painting (MFA, University of Illinois), and art education (PhD, Ohio State University), her research interests center on how the arts and museums function in communities, create a sense of place, and contribute to civic engagement. In her creative endeavors, she makes useful things from recycled and found materials.
Originally from Miami, Liz grew up in South Florida and started her teaching career in Palm Beach County. She taught art in the public schools for six years before returning to graduate school at Ohio State University. Coming to Lawrence from a faculty position at Buffalo State College in Buffalo, NY, Liz has been a faculty member at KU for over 20 years. During this time, she has been active in campus and community affairs including service on the Lawrence Arts Commission and volunteer work for the Friends of the Lawrence Public Library.
My teaching broadly focuses on preparing individuals to be productive members of their community. This community includes people who shape and interpret our visual world and who teach others about art, local history and community. My goal is for students to gain an understanding of how museums and the arts interact with other forces to influence and enrich our lives. Consequently, the thrust of my instructional endeavors involves guiding students toward professional competence, where the importance of art and community is recognized and investigated. I hold a joint appointment in Museum Studies and in Visual Art. In Museum Studies, I teach courses for undergraduates on the purpose, practice and place of museums in society and graduate seminars focusing on education and local museums. In Visual Arts, I teach courses in art education focusing on teaching, curriculum, and studio instruction.
- Formal and informal learning, translating knowledge, using local resources, exploring cultural offerings, public art, community arts, art in Kansas, curriculum and instruction, and museum studies
My current research interests center on museums, material culture and the arts. Specifically, I seek to make connections between how museums and the arts function in communities, create a sense of place, and contribute to civic engagement. I'm interested in these issues both from the point of view of how teachers use their arts knowledge and local resources but also how museums contribute to community vitality, particularly in rural areas. I am currently studying the rich history of the arts and museums in Kansas including artists and collectors who have contributed to our state. I frequently give talks and workshops about the importance of art in community, the broader society and everyday life.
- Formal and informal learning, museums and material culture, small rural museums, exploring cultural offerings, public and community arts, art in Kansas, collectors and collecting
On campus, I have served on the University Committee on Promotion and Tenure, the Art on Campus Committee, the Sign Committee, Faculty Executive Committee for the University Senate, president elect of the University Senate, and I chaired KU’s Sesquicentennial Committee. I was part of a committee at the KU Edwards Campus developing policy about public art and landscaping on campus.