Professor Spotlight: Mary Haas

Halleigh Hawkins, Staff Writer

Mary Haas, adjunct faculty member in the Department of Arts and Humanities, has influenced many students, and continues to be influenced by other artists, to create art. Haas, originally from Norfolk, has studied different artists for many years.

One man in particular, named Todd Williams, is a nationally renowned oil painter. When the state of Nebraska celebrated its 150th anniversary last year, Todd had painted something from each county in Nebraska. One of the museums where the paintings were located was in Grand Island.

“I went out to Grand Island and he had a workshop one week and I had the privilege of studying under him,” Haas said. “I really enjoyed that; I love oil painting.”

Haas has studied many different kinds of artwork with a variety of artists. She has studied under some regionally famous watercolor artists, including Lois Smith from Columbus and Julia Noise from Lincoln.

In Haas’s free time, she likes to oil paint and make jewelry. She likes to paint from her car, so she can drive around and gather inspiration before returning home to finish the painting in her basement. Haas learned to make jewelry from Ray Rocogel, a professor at Wayne State.

“I got the basics from him and then as I went on, I picked up a Japanese inspired technique,” Haas said.

“They use the waste from space craft and x-rays and manufacture this material that is like clay, form it, fire it, and it becomes fine silver. With this technique they have learned to put other materials into the clay form as well.”

Haas travelled to Portland, Org. to study under a woman named Deborah Carus, who gave her a foundation in the clay medium. She is now certified to teach this medium to students, and because of this, there are classes available including one that details mixing the different medias together to make a unique form of enamel. Glass is also used to vary the product.

Haas would sometime in the future like to travel out of the country to see many different works of art.

“I wanna see it all,” Haas said. “Because of the focus on European art, I would love to see art in Italy and France.”

She travels around to Omaha, Grand Island, Kearney, Sioux City, and other surrounding areas to study works of art.

Haas has always enjoyed giving wisdom and advice to her students, which makes the atmosphere in her classes very positive.

“She’s fun and keeps things interesting,” said Rylee Williams, a student in one of her classes.

Haas believes creative arts can affect and transform people no matter what they’re studying.