Professor Remembers Teachers Who Influenced Him

State boasts many remarkable teachers, each with his or her own talents, hobbies and specialties. One such teacher is Zachary Fitchner, assistant professor of art and gallery director.

Fitchner is a teacher of the arts with a focus in the physical creation of art. He saw the chance to teach at State as an opportunity to grow and has since come to love his students and colleagues.

Zach Fitchner

Fitchner spent his childhood in northeast Georgia before moving to central Florida. That eventually led him to the University of North Florida, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in fine arts in printmaking, drawing and painting. From there, Fitchner earned a master of fine arts from the University of Arizona with a concentration in printmaking and studio art.

Art has been a constant in Fitchner’s life since he was young. He said he developed an interest when he was 5 or 6 years old. Art did not become a career choice for Fitchner until he reached high school.

He said his high school teacher, Mrs. Burk, “understood me in a way no other teacher could.” She and several university instructors were the most influential of his teachers, he added.

Of all the art forms, Fitchner said he identifies himself closest with printmaking, a form of art that transfers some art substance (be it ink or otherwise) from a matrix to a page. Many processes fall into printmaking, and each is unique in some form, he said.

When asked about the future, Fitchner responded: “I’d like to continue to grow as an artist and as a faculty member. I hope to just keep making artwork and getting to work with students. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.”

Q&A

Where did you grow up and go to school?
I split my growing up between northeast Georgia and central Florida. I went to school at the University of North Florida, BFA with a concentration in Printmaking, Drawing, Painting. I attended graduate school at The University of Arizona, MFA, Printmaking, Studio Art.

What inspired you to pursue art?
I was always interested in art. It started when I was 5 or 6. I became serious about the pursuit in high school because of my teacher, Mrs. Burke. She was incredible. She understood me in a way no other teacher could, or care to.

What memorable teachers led you down your path?
Mrs. Burke, Lakeland Senior High School; Emily Arthur, UNF; John Hutcheson, UNF; Andy Polk, UA; Kathryn Polk-UA.

Is there a specific kind of art you identify most with?
Yes. Printmaking. I identify as a printmaker.

Do your tattoos hold any artistic significance, or are they aesthetic?
Yes and no. I helped out at a local tattoo shop while I was in high school, so I was around it all of the time. Some I chose because of the aesthetic, some for meaning. I’ve always appreciated traditional tattoo design similar to sailor Jerry’s work.

What led you to State? State was just an amazing opportunity for me. It was new and exciting and offered a chance to grow. I had worked at three other institutions before coming to State, and I feel very lucky to have been chosen to come work here. I love my students and my colleagues. And West Virginia is an awesome place.

What aspirations do you have?
I’d like to continue to grow as an artist and as a faculty member. I hope to just keep making artwork and getting to work with students. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.

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