Childhood dreams become reality for artist

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Posted Thursday, October 6, 2005 - 12:00am

A new professor of art complements staff at College of Eastern Utah with a subtle passion borne in infancy.

All children aspire to imaginative and impressive positions when they grow up, but most eventually adapt or settle for more realistic roles. Robert DeGroff never veered from his primary ambition. Since he was a boy, he knew he would be an artist – either that, or an astronaut or scientist.

DeGroff's work tends to reflect his childhood interest in the natural world. His analytical mindset leads his approach to art, "observing the natural world," asking "how do these things work?"

Though he still considers his other aspirations as a child, he has remained footed in his desire of art. During the two years he worked at McDonalds, he may have questioned his career choice, but he certainly has never regretted it in aspect of the "big picture."

After earning his bachelor's of fine arts degree at Utah State University, he went on to earn his master's of fine arts at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. Though Austin claims to be the "live-music capital of the world," this "poor grad student" could not validate the truthfulness of that proclamation. "I didn't spend much time in clubs or concerts."

The change in culture, pace and climate was a notable experience however, from the diversity of the art scene to chameleons inhabiting the bushes outside the art department.

Before joining CEU's art staff, DeGroff was the visual resource center coordinator, or "slide librarian," at USU. He added over 8,000 images to the database. One-third of which were requested from faculty, the remaining he added because they would be "good for the collection," whether historically related to art or merely "worthwhile."

As a hiker, he is drawn to Eastern Utah by its outdoor appeal, especially the San Rafael Swell. The Provo-native also benefits from being near family.

DeGroff also teaches several art classes at CEU including drawing fundamentals, two-dimensional design and printmaking.

His "tantalizing" long-term goal is to complement the art department by encompassing all four major branches of printmaking: relief, intaglio, screen and lithography. "One of the four legs is missing" at CEU: stone lithography. "We do teach lithography using plates.   We simply are not teaching stone lithography.   So maybe our table here at CEU has three-and-a-half legs."

DeGroff's immediate plan: "survive the first year. "

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