February 4 – March 11, 2016

Marks Art Center, College of the Desert. Co-presented with the McCallum Theater Institute.


Click to view more images


The installation was designed to fit the architecture of the Marks Art Center’s galleries. All of the arrangements were altered with the goal of maintaining an overall aesthetic likeness to the original installation, without compromising their potential in the new space. The lab will be installed with the same considerations in mind.





Barbara Ellmann and Sophia Marisa Lucas worked with the McCallum Theatre Institute and the Marks Art Center at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, California.

As the Director for the McCallum Theatre Institute – the education division of the McCallum – Kajsa Thuresson-Frary leads a team of education coordinators, teaching artists and other staff in designing, developing and implementing the Institute’s programs. Since its launch in 1997, the Institute has served over 500,000 students and other community members with Institute performances and arts education experiences. In close partnership with local education agencies, the Institute makes the arts available and accessible to youth in the area through in-school residencies in dance, theatre, music, and the visual arts, as well as field trips, teacher training and other professional development opportunities. In addition, Institute programs like the Choreography Festival and Open Call Talent Project serve as powerful vehicles for developing emerging artists and presenting engaging and affordable performances open to the general public.

Lisa Soccio is an Associate Professor at College of the Desert; hired in 2006, she teaches art history and appreciation, and museum studies, and is Director of the college’s art gallery, the Walter N. Marks Center for the Arts.  She earned her B.A. in Art History at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, along with a graduate certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies.  Her academic specialization is modern and contemporary art and photography, and her research investigates the idea of the avant-garde, and maps parallel avant-garde practices in contemporary art and alternative music.  Dr. Soccio serves on numerous college and community committees, has presented at various professional and academic conferences including the College Art Association and Western Museums Association, and has worked at other arts organizations including the George Eastman Museum and the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY.



A review in The Desert Sun


image001I enjoyed having classroom discussions about composition. How the eye travels when faced with a visual is something we rarely discuss. Once the kids’ eyes are “opened,” so to speak, they can find purpose and intent in the visual arrangement of so many things. I think that working with the abstract was immensely freeing for the students. They could play with the elements of design, and not worry about making things look real. I think it was also eye-opening for the kids to work with isolation. When they focused in on one small portion of a design, and transformed it into a brand new composition, they began to see endless possibilities Beyond just “broadening their horizons,” Aesthetic Arts Education allows students to make connections across the curriculum. Students realize that big ideas like “inspiration” are common to all art forms, and that the influence of others can be seen and felt in writing, painting, design, music, and dance. I think this idea of “connectedness” is                                                                vital to their growth as human beings.

– Mary Batok, Lincoln Elementary

 (Student artwork from Rancho Mirage Elementary)


A personal highlight was watching the students take what they have learned in previous Aesthetic Education studies and apply their knowledge to the current unit. Students feel more successful when they can become active learners in the unit and can connect their learning to their own lives. This unit of study was very interesting for my students because we have recently studied types of mediums used for art. When they learned that the medium was colored wax, they began researching and coming up with ways they could try to replicate what Barbara Ellmann was doing in their own artistic creations. We have since ordered mini canvases and encaustic wax to attempt our own exhibit at the school art show in June. We just finished biographies, so the students worked together to create a biography of Barbara Ellmann and were fascinated with some of the art she had created. It was an opportunity to discuss artistic choice and how that relates to projects in the classroom and even the selection of books that they read. It will continue to connect as the year progresses and we refer back to the unit of study.

   – Kelly Hughes, Sunny Sands


The most significant thing for my students was self-expression in conversations as well as in the abstract creations they produced. We all also absolutely LOVED the fashion in which the exhibit was set up, and the activities that we participated in while at COD. Students exhibited enthusiasm, promoted conversation, stayed focused and displayed tremendous interest in the artist as well as the curator.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                – Kym Kristy, Washington Charter School



McCallum Theatre Institute 

Marks Art Center

The Ophelia Project, Coachella Valley  

Idyllwild Arts Academy 

Muses and Patronesses Education Ambassadors