Barry McNasmara  |   Published June 24, 2021

Hatch Award for Scholarship

Francisco Ángeles, Janis Wunderlich share prestigious faculty honor.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Two Monmouth College faculty members whose accomplishments have shined a bright light on the institution shared this year’s Hatch Award for Scholarship and Creative Work.

FRANCISCO ÁNGELES: His novel, "Adiós a la revolución," was celebrated among Spanish-speaking authors. Francisco Ángeles from the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures and art professor Janis Wunderlich, who both joined the faculty in 2017, are co-recipients of the honor, which is part of the College’s prestigious Hatch Awards for Academic Excellence. Awards are also presented for teaching and service.

Internationally renowned novelist

“Francisco is an internationally renowned novelist, short-story writer, journalist and scholar, and the honors and press that he has gotten are a mark of particular prestige for Monmouth,” wrote his nominator. “His production as a creative writer, journalist and scholar since he began at Monmouth has been astonishing.”

In 2019, Ángeles published the novel Adiós a la revolución, which was nominated for the Luces Award for the best Peruvian novel of 2019 and made the top three of an even more competitive and lucrative award, the Alfaguara Prize, based in Spain, for which the competition was more than 1,000 manuscripts written in Spanish from anywhere in the world. The publisher of Adiós a la revolución, Penguin Random House, included it in its Mapa de las Lenguas series, which has brought with it publication in more than 20 countries.

“I write in Spanish, so writing connects me with my origin and my identity,” said Ángeles. “Not only with what I left behind but, more importantly, with everything I’m supposed to have left behind, but in fact, didn’t. I continue to acknowledge how present my roots are in myself, not only my native language but also less recognizable social traits like gender, social class and generation.”

“I see writing as the outcome of a more extensive process that involves reading – thinking, researching, talking to people, and once in a while even traveling to do fieldwork.” Francisco Ángeles

Ángeles said his reading is an important part of his writing.

“I see writing as the outcome of a more extensive process that involves reading – from novels to history, from political theory to biographies, from poetry to journalism – thinking, researching, talking to people, and once in a while even traveling to do fieldwork,” he said. “So, while the outcome of my writing – the published books as they are – is not necessarily connected to my teaching, the process is, even when it’s harder to recognize it.”

Ángeles leads courses in the Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures Department, and he’s also taught creative writing and an introductory journalism course.

“Monmouth’s students gain from the opportunity to learn from a master of his range of written forms,” wrote his nominator.

A naturally creative artist

That Wunderlich creates award-winning ceramics and paintings is impressive but so is the frequency with which she makes news in the art world.

“Not the least significant in her candidacy for this award is just how regularly she receives publicity for new work or some impressive recognition for it,” wrote her nominator. “She is a consistent generator of good news for the College. Her work is good enough, she is renowned enough, and she hustles enough that her work has been displayed in new exhibitions around the country in each of the years that she has been at Monmouth.”

JANIS WUNDERLICH: Monmouth art professor poses with the sculpture that took the top honor in a na... JANIS WUNDERLICH: Monmouth art professor poses with the sculpture that took the top honor in a national juried exhibition.Wunderlich has had several solo exhibitions during that time, including one in Ohio, where she also earned a grant to work with high school students in rural Appalachian regions of Ohio and West Virginia to create figurative ceramic busts. Her work has been on display in group exhibitions nearly two dozen times since she started at Monmouth, from Massachusetts to California.

In 2020, her ceramic sculpture, Vulnerabilities, won Best of Show at 64 Arts, a national juried exhibition at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth. This year, her sculpture Boat in the Headwaters won a Juror’s Choice Award at the GALEX National Juried Art Exhibition at the Galesburg Civic Art Center. She also recently received a $15,000 Illinois Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship Award.

“My students witness the process of maintaining a professional artistic practice, from start to finish, as I create work for exhibitions,” said Wunderlich. “They observe me spending copious amounts of time making aesthetic and technical decisions, then firing, glazing, documenting and shipping the work.”

Her body of work has also led to a notable number of invitations to take part in documentaries and educational events featuring her, some of them tied to her exhibitions. Her work, reflections and research have also appeared in a number of journals.

“I am a storyteller and a creative maker, and it is as natural to me as breathing,” said Wunderlich. “This is evident as I teach and make art. I teach very actively, with my hands moving and demonstrating.”

“I am a storyteller and a creative maker, and it is as natural to me as breathing. This is evident as I teach and make art. I teach very actively, with my hands moving and demonstrating.” Janis Wunderlich

Wunderlich said her medium, clay, does much of the teaching for her.

“Clay is the ultimate teacher. Through our failures and successes, we learn to be resilient and problem-solvers. I spend many evening and weekend hours creating my art alongside students in the Ceramics Lab.”

Her nominator wrote that Wunderlich’s lessons to students go beyond the study and creation of art.

“She has applied the process and refinement of her skills to teaching students how to do ceramics well, to take steps toward careers in art, and to use contemporary technologies to aid their work,” wrote her nominator. “She has given her students meaningful outlets, as they’ve created an astonishing number of ceramic bowls for Galesburg’s annual ‘Great Bowls of Soup’ fundraiser. … Her production of ceramic and painted art work, her recognition for that work, and the impact of her creative work on students have all been exemplary.”

Wunderlich said “Great Bowls of Soup” has been beneficial to her students.

“It has become a yearly tradition, and it’s grown into another opportunity for Monmouth College art students to teach classes at the local juvenile detention center and summer arts camp,” she said.

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