by Joseph Lindblom-Masuwale
There’s a new assistent professor of art in town this semester and her name is Cayla Skillin-Brauchle. Like many of the Willamette students she teaches, Skillin-Brauchle is a world traveler brought up with a liberal arts education.
Born in Vermont and educated at Beloit College, Wisc., Skillin-Brauchle cultured an interest in sociology, politics and women’s and gender studies. She said these influences still shape her artwork today.
Also notable is Skillin-Brauchles two year stint in Thailand, where the artist relocated after receiving her undergraduate degree. The professor credits the move as the first opportunity to pursue her artwork outside of the classroom.
Thailand, however, wasn’t the first time she had been to Asia, having spent a semester abroad in India during her junior year. Since then, Skillin-Brauchle said these experiences shaped the trajectory of her work.
After receiving her Master of Fine Arts at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, Skillin-Brauchle spent another year in India from 2012-13 as a Fulbright scholar.
Skillin-Brauchle worked on a variety of projects during her time in India, using multiple media platforms including drawing, photography, video and performance art.
“I consider my own practice [of art] to be transdisciplinary,” Skillin-Brauchle said.
By that, she continued, she means not necessarily incorporating all the disciplines together simultaneously, but recognizing when her projects need to find expression through other mediums as they unfold.
Though she does use mixed-media in some of her projects, the professor said it would be more accurate to say that her projects “move through media.”
“I’m always learning something new, because I realize that I need to do something for a project that I may not know how to do yet,” Skillin-Brauchle said.
“I don’t feel restricted by media. I try to match the conceptual question that I want to answer with the media that can best answer that question.”
Skillin-Brauchle is excited to teach because of the opportunity to learn about new work and connections she makes as part of her job.
She said she’s always being surprised by the work and ideas of her students and appreciates being able to honor their different approaches.