The Stone City Art Colony and School 1932-1933
Jack Arends

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Jack Arends (1911-1986) - student

Recognized nationally as a leader in art education, Jack Arends was born in Aplington, Iowa and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English in 1932 from the University of Northern Iowa immediately before his first session at the Stone City colony. He received a colony art scholarship and was a member of its 1932-1933 gatherings. Under Wood’s tutelage, Arends’ painting skills strengthened, as did his desire for teaching art on the college and university level. To that end, he enrolled at Columbia University’s prestigious Teachers College (NYC) and was awarded a Masters degree in Art (1936), followed by a Doctorate in Art and Art Education (Ed.D, 1952).

While at Columbia, he was honored with the Dow Scholarship and taught at the Horace Mann School in New York City (1935-36). He also served as an art teacher at the Port Chester (NY) Junior High School (1936-37) and was appointed Director of Art for the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Schools (NY) from 1937-1942. During World War II, Arends served as an aerial photographer for the U.S. Army Air Force and directed the photography program for the Army Air Force at Colorado State College in Greeley. Once discharged, he returned to art education, joining the faculty of the Massachusetts College of Art (Boston) as a professor of design, photography, and art education (1946-1950). An offer from Columbia University (1950) prompted his move to that institution as faculty in the Teachers College. Arends remained at Columbia until 1962, when he received a request from Northern Illinois University to take over leadership of its struggling art department. His decision to move to DeKalb, Illinois was a momentous one.

From 1962 to 1973, Arends’ vision and talents spawned amazing growth for the art department, tripling its faculty and making its undergraduate and graduate programs one of the largest and most comprehensive in the United States. Known as a weaver, painter, and designer, Arends was crucial in securing funding for a multi-million dollar facility to house the campus’ visual arts program; the building was named in his honor in 1971. In addition to his teaching, Arends exhibited extensively with featured showings at the Whitney Museum (NYC) and the Museum of Contemporary Crafts (NYC). He relished educational travel for art history, leading roughly thirty tours of Europe and northern Africa for the Student International Tour Agency, affiliated with Columbia University and Northern Illinois University.

Arends’ professional associations reflected his lifelong interests in art and education, including: The National Art Education Association (board member); president, Illinois Art Education Association; Art Education Foundation, board of directors (1962); Student International Travel Association, board of directors; School Arts Magazine, advisory editor (1962-); Art Education journal editor (1953-57); and the Eastern Arts Association. Known as the “Father of Northern’s Visual Arts Building,” Arends retired to the Tucson, Arizona area and maintained a home near DeKalb. He died in Arizona in November 1986.


Jack Arends

Jack Arends - Photo provided by Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University Archives, DeKalb, IL


Jack Arends.

Photos courtesy of Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University Archives, DeKalb, Illinois.


When Tillage Begins: The Stone City Art Colony and School
Published online October 2003 by the
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