Regents Recognize WNC Fine Arts Professor Rachel Stiff with Creative Activities Award

Mar 31, 2023

A year after receiving tenure, Western Nevada College Fine Arts Professor Rachel Stiff has again been recognized by the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Stiff was honored with the Regents’ Creative Activities Award on March 10 at the Board of Regents quarterly meeting at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas.

"In the five years that Rachel has been with the college, she has now earned three esteemed honors: Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year, tenure, and now the Regents' Creative Activities Award,” said WNC President Dr. J. Kyle Dalpe. “Rachel's dedication to her students extends beyond teaching them the concepts and techniques to support their learning in the classroom. She helps them develop their portfolios and artwork so they can be successful artists who can share their collections with others. Their success reflects her own award-winning achievements."

The Fine Arts professor is touted for her well-organized lectures and demonstrations in the classroom. Stiff is also known for working closely with her students so that they understand complex art methods and ways of working.

"In my classroom careful observation, attention to detail and process is taught,” Stiff said. “Additionally, I work to build a creative environment and the conditions under which growth is possible for my students, who are my greatest teachers. The journey is ever-evolving and is one that I cherish. Thank you to all who have supported me at WNC and thank you ALL for the opportunity to continue doing what I love.”

Typically, Stiff’s students repeat classes so they can continue to work with her in developing their portfolios and creating artwork for solo exhibitions. She has curated solo exhibitions for three of her students: “Into the West,” “Odyssey,” and “Dragon’s Reach.” In addition, she curates WNC’s Annual Student Art Show and co-curates Annual Capital City Arts Initiative Exhibition.

Stiff’s impact at WNC has extended beyond the classroom. When she started at WNC five years ago, a curator of programming in the college’s three galleries was needed. She addressed this missing cultural and community necessity and built a partnership with the Capital City Arts Initiative, attracting professional art exhibitions to the galleries and returning community members to the college.

Stiff is an active painter who focuses on the construction/deconstruction/reconstruction of modern landscape and desert-urban interface through abstraction. Her love of Nevada and fascination with the American West underlines her artwork. Her artwork can be viewed in the permanent collection of the Marjorie Barrick Museum in Las Vegas; it has also been shown throughout the West and was acquired by the Emmy award-winning studio, Traktor Films of Santa Monica, Calif. She also was a featured artist in the exhibition, “Tilting the Basin,” at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno and Las Vegas, and her paintings were included in "The Nuclear Landscape,” an exhibition in conjunction with the Nevada STEAM Conference at the Nevada Museum of Art.

Among her solo exhibitions is “Entitled to the Sun” which has traveled to the Goodstein Gallery at Casper College in Casper Wyoming; the Willards Art Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho; the Ruddell Gallery at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D.; and the CCAI Courthouse Gallery in Carson City. Stiff’s other solo exhibitions include “High Gradient” at Northwest College in Powell, Wyo.; “Every Afternoon” at City Hall in Carson City; “Only Spaces” at the Sierra Arts Foundation in Reno; and “Framing the West” at the Winchester Cultural Center in Las Vegas. Stiff’s group exhibitions include “no-such-place,” at MELHOP Gallery 7077, Zephyr Cove, Nev.; “Human Contact,” at the Barrick Museum of Art, UNLV; “Ink, Paper, Print,” at Capital City Arts Initiative in Carson City; and “Taking Flight,” at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Originally from Lewistown, Mont., Stiff has a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of Arizona in Tucson and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Montana in Missoula. Prior to arriving at WNC, Stiff instructed art classes for the University of Nevada Las Vegas and University of Nevada, Reno.