(This article by Ashley Michie first ran in the May 9, 2012 edition of SPU’s The Falcon newspaper. Virginia Causey has been teaching at Seattle Pacific since 1995. She was a student at SPU in the mid-1960s. The Seattle Metals Guild is proud to honor her as our 2014 Lifetime Acheivement Award winner.)
In the mid-1960s, Virginia Causey, adjunct professor of art, was a student at Seattle Pacific. She was also a flight attendant for Western Airlines and Delta Air Lines. Causey said she flew for seven years — 71 to 74 hours a month. The occupation, paired with the duties of a college student, seems like an educational hazard to many, but it may have been beneficial for Causey, who describes herself as a Renaissance person: she likes doing different things so she doesn’t get bored.
Her occupations and hobbies back up her description. For 20 years, Causey taught diving and was a scuba instructor. Beyond jobs, Causey enjoys parasailing, ultralight aviation and endurance horse riding. She has also climbed several mountains, including Mount St. Helens before it erupted.
But doing different things doesn’t encompass all of Causey’s adventures; she spent six months traveling the Pacific Rim through Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
And now, Causey can be found teaching metal arts as adjunct faculty at SPU’s Art Center. “I think Seattle Pacific is unique as far as [the] quality of students who are here as well as the location and the faculty,” she said.
Causey’s interest in art began when she was in the eighth grade; she started cutting stone to make jewelry. Before enrolling at SPU, Causey attended University of Washington with the intent to become a dental hygienist. Unfortunately, she realized that her goal involved spending the rest of her life “looking into somebody’s mouth.” When she began taking ceramics classes at University of Washington, her interest in art was renewed, and after taking weaving and drawing, she decided to change her focus from mouths to art.
Still, some aspects of a dental hygienist’s duties seem to have carried over: part of the appeal of metal arts for Causey is that she can utilize her detail-oriented skills and the fact that it can be done in small spaces.
She has taught specialized classes on metal arts in Canada, California, Portland, Bellingham and at the Smithsonian Institute. Since 1988, she has been teaching at Pratt Fine Arts Center. Since 1995, she has been teaching metal arts at SPU. “She’s an authentic and real artist,” Dr. Roger Feldman, professor of art, said. Dr. Feldman said Causey has proven herself as one of the best metal artists, evidenced by the fact that she exhibits nationally and internationally.
Despite all of Causey’s accomplishments and adventures, she said her passion is teaching. “We’re fortunate to have her teach for us because she cares about students,” Dr. Feldman said.
Cheri Wilke, administrative assistant in the Art Department at SPU, said Causey’s dedication to her students is evident in the amount of time she gives them. Wilke said Causey spends a lot of time working with students after class, and she sometimes comes in on weekends.
Dr. Feldman said there has been a waiting list for Causey’s class for the entire 12 years he has been at SPU. Most students who take Causey’s class are not art students, but take the class for humanities credits. “It’s fun to constantly be bombarded with new and interesting ways of viewing the same things,” Causey said.
Dr. Feldman said engineering and science students love Causey’s class because she is demanding and has high standards. He said Causey finds people with suppressed skills and helps them understand their need for creativity. Even though Causey’s metal arts class is a lot of work, the students rise to the occasion, Dr. Feldman said.
He said her students’ accomplishments are a tribute to Causey’s interest in her students. “She’s proud of what the students accomplish,” Dr. Feldman said.
Please join us in honoring Virginia as SMG’s 2014 Lifetime Acheivement Award winner, and hear her speak about her career and work during the upcoming General Meeting on February 7. Congratulations, Virginia!