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Marcus Civin's Broad Palette

Photography by Christopher Smith

It’s been only a few months since Marcus Civin took charge of the UNLV art department. He brought with him from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) a broad palette of interests and skills as artist, critic, educator, and administrator.

Last summer, in an interview in Desert Companion magazine, he said that “a great art department will always have a certain productive anarchy.”

“We want to create a climate where people feel free to express themselves even if those ideas are challenging,” Civin told KNPR's State of Nevada.

Civin said there are a lot of unique things about UNLV and Las Vegas but there are two in particular that he would like to lean into: diversity and the hospitality industry on the Strip.

He said that there are a lot of art and design jobs on the Las Vegas Strip and alumni from the university are already employed there.

“I’ve been completely moved by the incredible typography and signage and graphic design and motion graphics and web design that I’ve seen here,” he said. 

If students from UNLV decided to stay in the city after graduation, he would like his department to help plug them into that system.

UNLV is one of the most diverse campuses in the country. Civin said he has already seen a level of discussion about diversity at UNLV that he did not see in other places he's been.

“Things that I’ve seen in my performance art classroom students talking to each other frankly about identity, race, culture, gender in ways that I hadn’t seen at the previous institutions that I worked,” he said.

Civin is also working to overhaul the department's curriculum. 

“We’re not ready to make any big announcements but we have exciting things to come that we could see as early as spring,” he said.

To accomplish that, he won't just work with faculty at UNLV but with Nevada System of Higher Education faculty from around the state. The idea is to coordinate programs so students can transfer easily within public higher ed schools.

Civin is a performance artist, which he says combines all facets of the arts from design to theatre to music.

He is currently testing a performance art night called Radar. The plan is to feature all kinds of different performance artists from drummers to drag queens.

It is those kinds of cross-connections that Civin likes about working at UNLV. MICA is a stand-alone arts college but UNLV includes hundreds of disciplines that he believes helps elevate the art department.

Marcus Civin, Chair of the Art Department, UNLV

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Since June 2015, Fred has been a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada.