Thompson Rivers University

Lawrence a ‘culture changer’ in undergraduate arts research

  Posted on: May 24, 2019

Donald Lawrence, Professor, Visual Arts.

Donald Lawrence, Professor, Visual Arts.

For Donald Lawrence, the true reward for mentoring undergraduate students is in watching their careers take off, and seeing them reach their full potential.

This week, however, the Professor of Visual Arts was rewarded for his work, having received the Arts and Humanities Faculty Mentor Award from the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR). The CUR is an internationally recognized body representing more than 700 institutions and 13,000 individuals, and supports faculty development for high-quality undergraduate research. The awards are designed to nurture undergraduate research, scholarship and creative inquiry in arts and humanities disciplines.

Lawrence has been actively mentoring students for nearly 28 years, and in 2017 received TRU’s Undergraduate Research Mentorship Award. To date, he has mentored 64 Visual Arts students, always supporting them and pushing them to explore and to be innovative in their practice.

“We are thrilled to see Professor Lawrence receive this recognition for his work with undergraduate research students,” said Dr. Will Garrett-Petts, Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies. “The relationship between creative inquiry and research is a complex one, and with the help of teachers and scholars like Professor Lawrence, we are finding ways to scaffold success for all students in all disciplines, and at all levels of their education.”

“Professor Lawrence’s students have been profoundly influenced by his dedicated modeling of artistic inquiry and creative scholarship as an artist-researcher, incorporating what they have learned from him into their artistic practice and teaching,” said CUR Executive Officer Elizabeth L. Ambros. “His teaching, mentoring, and collaborative scholarship have distinguished him as a transformative ‘culture changer’ in the advancement of undergraduate research in the visual arts.”

Lawrence began his career at TRU in 1989. His work has been exhibited in more than 20 solo exhibitions, and he has contributed to important international group exhibitions. He has participated in numerous artist residencies, produced multiple refereed publications, and is in demand as a speaker and workshop leader. In 2018, the City of Kamloops named Lawrence the Artist of the Year.

His support of creative inquiry has had wide-ranging impact, but Lawrence is quick to say it goes both ways.

“Anything I give to my students I get back equally or more from them. Seeing their own accomplishments gives me such pleasure, and they routinely make me think differently about my own teaching and artistic practice. When I work with my students I’m creating a longer term network that crosses back and forth, between faculty and students, and then alumni; as faculty we’re building up a community of artists.”

The CUR-Arts and Humanities Faculty Mentor Awards were established in 2018 through an endowment by 2012 CUR Fellow Joyce Kinkead to nurture undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry in arts and humanities disciplines.

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Donald Lawrence, Professor
Faculty of Arts