The Pennsylvania State University

School of Visual Arts

The Penn State School of Visual Arts Bids Fond Farewell to Two Esteemed Colleagues

SoVA bids farewell to Micaela Amateau, Professor of Art and Women’s Studies, and Jerry Bierly, Supervisor of SoVA’s Art Shop (and so much more).  For the past three decades Micaela and Jerry have touched the lives of many students during their tenure with the school.  Our community has been greatly enriched by the contributions that each have made. Please join us as we celebrate their life and times at SoVA.  We will be holding a pot-luck farewell luncheon for Jerry and Micaela as a holiday celebration on Friday, December 14 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00pm in the Visual Arts Building Sculpture Studio (103). Micaela Amateau Micaela joined SoVA in 1988.  Throughout her academic career, she has maintained a strong professional profile as a contemporary artist.  She began exhibiting her work in New York City in 1975. Since then, her work has been shown nationall and internationally and is represented in major collections including: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, New York, Chase Manhattan Bank; and the private collections of Vera List and Paula Cooper. Amato's work continues to be reviewed in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, ArtForum, Art in America, and Art News. Local reviews from her colleagues are even more inspiring – here’s a small sample – the full collection has been forwarded to Micaela: Micaela is passionate and unrelenting in her commitment as an artist, teacher and colleague; her creative intensity touched so many of our students. (Charles Garoian) Micaela was my introduction to the Art World… Her questions were about the life of the mind… I got the sense that she was interested in who I was as a creative person. She has always been there as a friend and mentor, encouraging my talent to blossom… I will always remember Micaela's home and studio. It is rich with art, artifacts and beauty. In my mind's eye, Micaela's life with Don and Cara represent what it means to live the life of a True Artist. I wish you, Micaela, many more years of creativity and happiness to come! (Jean Sanders) One of the many gifts that Micaela Amato has shared with her students and colleagues over the years is her passion for art. It is contagious. In the ceramics area we have been particularly blessed by her enthusiasm and respect for clay and the vessel tradition. Micaela had the good fortune of working with Betty Woodman, one of the most talented and esteemed ceramic artist ever!!! Micaela almost channeled Betty’s energy and insights to us in Ceramics. I will be forever grateful for her unwavering support of our ceramics students. Lastly, on a personal note for years Micaela often asked me “how my beautiful daughters are doing?” her question always brings a smile to my face. (Chris Staley) Jerry Bierly Jerry joined SoVA in 1990.  As shop supervisor, Jerry can be found advising and guiding students as they struggle to create their inspirations that often defy gravity.  Yet he always goes above and beyond what staff, faculty and students need, always there to lend a hand and gentle guidance.  His deep-seated knowledge and extraordinary kind-heartedness are unmatched. Yet, his legend extends beyond the shop for Jerry is also a daredevil at heart, with a great passion for flying, skydiving, and boating; he built the house that he and his family live in, and he can pretty much fix, make anything. As a local legend, Jerry has been part of many stories – here’s a sample - the full collection has been forwarded to Jerry: Jerry L. Bierly. 2 Board Feet. Etching. 1994. 2.5 x 3 inches. From Suite 514, the SoVA Faculty and Staff Print Portfolio. (Robyn Gibson) …Jerry has always impressed me as an artist, as he approaches every situation uniquely and tries to encourage each student to learn building skills on their own terms, with his expert hand to guide--- not legislate. It is unfortunate that at times the gestures of help on a busy classroom day can go with out a simple “thank you”. How many times have I asked: “Jerry, do you have a 1/4 inch stainless steel phillips head screw in the back room?” Or, “What’s the best way to TIG weld this sheet metal, Jerry?” How about, “Jerry, may I store my materials here?” And of course: “Jerry, which bus box goes to these series of outlets?” Jerry-- I feel I owe you a million “thank you’s.” (Bonnie Collura) Jerry is simply unflappable. He fixes things. Everything. Without ceremony and with great modesty and intelligence. During my first year here we had a model who wanted to be "super model' and had a book of impossible poses from art history that he carried around with him like his bible. He would practice at night in the dark of the drawing room, and was eventually found to be living in the building under the modeling platform. I walked into 315 for an 8.00 AM class, the students already in place at their seats, drawing pads open, all heads upward. I followed their eyes, and there he was, naked, lashed to the fluorescent lights with ropes and tethers. The ladder had been kicked away, and he had constructed an ingenious Crucifixion of sorts, complete with beams, sticks and loin cloth. I knew it was only a matter of time before gravity would take care of things in the way that gravity knows how, so I ran down the steps to the wood shop and with great panic and drama told Jerry we had a situation of a man lashed to the ceiling on the third floor. He nodded, and smiled in that Jerry way of saying nothing. He walked into the room, looked up, bit his lip, thought for a minute, wondered out loud about the strength of the lights and ratio of body weight to metal supports, and simply said, we'll need a ladder, this pose won’t work. (Helen O’Leary) Jerry has come to my rescue more than once … I remember many moons ago, one spring semester right after spring break, being in the wood shop on crutches standing on one leg trying to make a musical treble clef and a dollar sign out of wood. I needed two 3-d models so that the treble clef would appear to cast a dollar sign shadow - Pre digital era, this all had to be done photographically, using lights and casting shadows and captured on film … I was really challenged and was able to keep a couple of very important deadlines thanks to Jerry … Ten years later as a Grad Student, Jerry helped me figured out a way to put lit candles on the ground in Zoller Gallery during the opening of my solo Graduate exhibition. Jerry has always help me out, coming up with the most ingenious solutions to my crazy creative problems. Thank you so much for all that you have done for me over the years Jerry! When I look to the skies and see a little plane flying over my head, I will think of you! (Katie Parizek)