Making an immeasurable impression: Jean Makin retires from the ASU Art Museum

June 6, 2016

When Jean Makin began working at the ASU Art Museum in 1989, the print collection consisted of just under 1,500 works on paper. Today that number is approaching 7,000.

“From the beginning, it was really hands on with the collection,” said Makin, who is retiring from the art museum after 27 years as curator of prints. ASU Art Museum Curator of Prints Jean Makin poses in a gallery ASU Art Museum curator of prints Jean Makin. Photos by Diane Wallace Download Full Image

Makin began her arts career as an assistant registrar at the University of Iowa Museum of Art before moving to Arizona, where she worked as the registrar at the Phoenix Art Museum for more than three years.

The ASU Art Museum’s collection of works on paper, which includes artists from Dürer to Warhol, was a huge draw for Makin, who has an MFA in printmaking from the University of Iowa. She was hired as the museum’s first assistant curator of prints.

In the early years at the museum, she helped establish the facility at the Nelson Fine Arts Center, physically moving artwork from Matthews Center, where the museum was originally housed. Then came the task of cataloguing the work, which suited Makin well given her previous experience as a registrar.

Curator of Prints Jean Makin interacts with students at the ASU Art Museum

But ultimately, she said, the most gratifying part of the job came in her interactions with students, whether it was a larger class or an individual intern, in the Jules Heller Print Study Room.

“There have been numerous classes that have worked on specific aspects of the collection, researching and writing text that later is used in an exhibition,” Makin explained. “The students are engaged directly with the curatorial process, which is quite different from standard research for a hand-in paper. And they saw their work in the gallery — how many students can claim they created an exhibition?”

Melissa Button, an instructor in the ASU School of Art, regularly brought her classes to the print room to work with Makin.

“I cannot properly express how much I have appreciated and benefited from [Makin’s] endless knowledge and continuous desire to educate the students,” said Button. “[Makin] will not be soon forgotten, as [her] words and enthusiasm for prints will carry through my teaching for many years to come.”

Several of Makin’s former interns said their experience with Makin and the ASU Art Museum’s print collection was formative for them.

“Jean Makin is a gem and a real asset to the arts community,” says Laura Wilde, a former intern who graduated in 2014 with a bachelor in art history from the School of Art and who now works as the outreach and volunteer coordinator at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. “Her vast knowledge, experience and kindness helped me so much while I served as an intern at the ASU Art Museum print department, as I'm sure it helped many others. Her guidance helped me start my arts career.”

While interning at the museum, Emma Ringness’ research with the collection developed into a full-blown exhibition titled “Plate, Silk, Stone: Women in Print” (2013).

“Jean has an incredible wealth of knowledge both in art history and art making,” said Ringness, who graduated in 2013 with a degree in printmaking. “So much of what I learned during my time as an intern in the print study room was not from the research I conducted, but from my conversations with Jean.”

Throughout the years, Makin wore many hats (often simultaneously), from personnel manager to graphic designer, leaving an immeasurable impression on the museum itself. But her legacy extends even farther, to the larger ASU community and beyond.

“Jean has been central to the museum’s mission for over 27 years, and her commitment and expertise is shown through her amazing history of exhibitions and the building of the phenomenal print collection,” say ASU Art Museum Director Gordon Knox. “Thousands of students, academics and members of the public have come to know and love the print collection thanks to Jean’s hard work.”

Makin’s final exhibition at the museum, “The Brandywine Workshop Collection,” includes work from a satellite collection of prints that the ASU Art Museum received from the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia in 2015 and features artists such as Betye Saar, Tomie Arai and Willie Birch. The show will be on view July 5 through Dec. 17.

Communications Program Coordinator, ASU Art Museum


ASU alumnus helps students achieve success

June 7, 2016

From manufacturing in the aerospace industry to managing environmental services for the Navy, Arizona State University alumnus Paul Crecelius had a range of careers throughout his working life.

“I think a good education is basically the basis of almost any success,” said Crecelius. Alumnus Paul Crecelius with his two scholarship recipients Michelle Stephens and Serena Suwarno. ASU alumnus Paul Crecelius meets his two microbiology scholarship recipients Michelle Stephens (right) and Serena Suwarno (second from left), along with Shelley Haydel, associate professor in the School of Life Sciences. Download Full Image

Crecelius graduated from ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry in 1969. He enjoyed chemistry in high school and followed a similar science path of his father, Harry Gilbert Crecelius, who was the director of the Arizona State Health Department laboratories from 1948 to 1975. 

“I just like science,” Crecelius said. “I find it very, very interesting. I think chemistry/science is an excellent background for anyone.”

In addition to his chemistry degree, Crecelius earned his Master of Business Administration. He believes having an understanding of business as well as science creates career flexibility and opportunity for growth in different directions.

Crecelius started his career as a manufacturing development engineer in aerospace. Then he transitioned to being an engineer for the manufacture of circuit boards. During the third part of his career, he was the manufacturing manager for a residential and commercial window and door company.

During his time as manufacturing manager, environmental laws and regulations were implemented. He gained a hands-on understanding of what was needed to adapt the manufacturing operations for compliance and how to implement the changes.

Crecelius followed in his father’s path again, ending his career as the department head of environmental services for Navy Public Works in San Diego.

To honor his parents, Crecelius and his wife, Genevieve, created the Dr. Harry Gilbert and Doris Loraine Crecelius Scholarship for undergraduate students in the School of Life Sciences studying microbiology, his father’s field of study. The scholarship provides support to enable students in the discipline to achieve their dreams.

“I just wanted something to recognize my parents and my father’s contributions to the state,” he said. “And I thought microbiology was certainly an important field, so that’s why we picked it.”

After 47 years since graduating from the university, Crecelius came back to meet this year’s scholarship recipients, Michelle Stephens and Serena Suwarno, at the School of Life Sciences undergraduate scholarship and awards event.

Stephens, a National Merit scholar, has been studying mechanisms by which bacteria cause disease. Suwarno, a TGen Helios Scholar alumna, has been conducting research on possible virulence factors of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  

Crecelius and his wife have also created endowed scholarships for undergraduate students studying accounting and chemistry at San Diego State University, her alma mater.

He credited their ability to give back financially to investing wisely and living modestly, while deciding what was truly important in life.

“I think the message would be to use your money wisely, but also, what are you going to do with your money? Where do you want to spend it?” he said. “I’ve been on the Great Wall of China when there was no one else there. … I’ve walked through the Parthenon. These are experiences that I think are extremely valuable.”

Crecelius urges students and future alumni to consider the employment available in their degree and pay attention to how quickly industries can change and advance, especially in areas like technology. He also strongly recommends they get involved with their investing and savings because they will be the ones who benefit from it. 

“You need to keep track of what’s going on in the field you’re in and make sure you stay current with what’s going on,” he said. “If you don’t, you’re eventually going to find yourself surprised. And it won’t be a very pleasant surprise.”

As for his own future, Crecelius hasn’t thought too much about a legacy for himself.

“I just feel fortunate that I’ve got a pretty decent life,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll have a few more years. I’ve got a little more traveling I want to do.”

Sarah Edwards

Student writer, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences