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Department of Theatre and Dance


Designer Ron Steger Receives UW Presidential Award

May 7, 2002 -- Ron Steger, recognized internationally for his Renaissance-style back drop painting, has received the 2002 University of Wyoming Presidential Award for Excellence in Research.

This is the 12th year the Presidential Award has been given to recognize significant contributions to the university through research, teaching, and other creative scholarly activity.

Steger, a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, has designed professionally for distinguished national companies including the Oakland, Springfield, Berkeley, and Colorado ballets and the Charleston Ballet Theatre along with more than 100 UW productions. He is most recognized for his enormous backdrop paintings, using long handled brushes, on canvasses stretched out across the entire stage.

"Few artists today are capable of working in such massive scale and fewer still can paint in this style," says Rebecca Hilliker, who heads the UW Department of Theatre and Dance. "Ron has passed this knowledge on to our students, giving them first-hand experience painting his works for national companies."

Well known for his ability to paint fantasy, he has painted the "Nutcracker" backdrop eight times, each with a fresh and exciting new look. One colleague noted, "I am amazed and enchanted by the drops that come to life as Ron paints hour after hour. The land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, a winter forest, a barren Wyoming plain, and so many more exquisite environments have sprung from the canvas surface."

Steger came to UW in 1981. He earned a B.S. (1971) at the University of Missouri, and an M.F.A. (1977) at the University of Florida.

His work has been honored many times. He recently received the Northwest Drama Conference's Horace Robinson Award for his contributions to theatre education and productions. He also received the Governor's Arts Award and the Kennedy Center Medallion, the most prestigious national award available for university artists.

Several of Steger's's design students have distinguished themselves in the professional design world. One former student notes, "Ron Steger made me want to be a scenic designer. He taught me that sets aren't just places where a play happens -- they can communicate, tell stories, live and breathe."

Hilliker adds, "I have never worked with any other designer with Ron's passion and love for art. More than any other designer, Ron gives the director a real world in which the story of the playwright can come to life."

Posted on Tuesday, May 07, 2002

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