US visit strengthens creative links between University of Derby and Nevada State College

20 February 2023

A group of students from the University of Derby’s School of Arts has just returned from a month-long visit to Las Vegas.

The 15 students were from Fine Art, Fashion, Graphic Design, Photography, and Creative Arts, Health and Wellbeing courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. They had their travel and accommodation funded by the Turing UK scheme, the UK government’s programme to provide funding for international opportunities in education and training across the world. This trip followed its first expedition in July 2022, bringing the total number of student contributors to 22.

Led by Dr Gemma Marmalade, the University’s Assistant Head of Discipline for Art and Photography, the students were guests of Nevada State College’s Office for the Arts and worked alongside Nevada State students. During their stay, they attended a range of events and study visits which included working with Avi Kwa Ame – where artists and scientists work collaboratively to support the Southern Nevada landscape, seeking protection of its land by naming it as a National Monument. This project is supported by President Joe Biden.

An exhibition created jointly with Nevada State students will also feature in FORMAT international photography festival which takes place from 16 March to 9 April in Derby. Organised by QUAD and the University, and funded by a range of partners, FORMAT is the UK’s leading international festival of photography and contemporary media. ‘How Love Lives in Two Places’ will be on show at a new public gallery at the University’s Markeaton Street site, which will be launched at an opening event on 17 March. You can follow @msg.derbyuni on Instagram for more information.

A group of people sitting under a decorated ironwork frame
During their month-long stay, the students took part in a number of visits, including a trip to Villa Anita DV, a creative residential project in Tecopa, California.

Amy Morgan, a BA (Hons) Creative, Expressive, Health and Wellbeing student, said:

“Exploring the contrasting environmental extremes of neon and the desert sparked in all of us a new energy for creative and cultural thinking. This thought-provoking experience mixed with research-informed guidance really gave a sense of transformation, in our practice and within ourselves.”

During the group’s stay in Nevada, Dr Marmalade was recognised as Honorary Professor of the Arts by Nevada State College. The College also planted a Tree of Friendship on their campus to symbolise the alliance between the two organisations.

Dr Marmalade said:

“From my own research and work in the Las Vegas Valley, it is a place bursting with creative energy. The Office for the Arts at Nevada State shares our vision of revelatory creative practice as a highly effective tool for both academic studies and personal growth, stimulating the opportunity for deep learning, which directly translates meaningfully into life-long success and career development.

“At the University of Derby we value opportunities to provide real world experiences for our students wherever possible. It is my privilege to share such life-changing experiences with our students and the incredible friendships we have made along the journey together. To have this partnership honoured in the conferment of my honorary role as professor is hugely humbling and I am immensely grateful.”

Angela M Brommel, Senior Advisor & Executive Director for the Arts at Nevada State College, added:

“Nevada State and its Office for the Arts are honoured to have formed this alliance with the University of Derby and its School of Arts, led by Dr Marmalade. Our collaborations provide opportunities for classroom and public conversations about what our work as creatives looks like, the essential contributions of the creative economy to our prosperity, and how the arts contribute to our wellbeing as individuals and communities.”

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