Faculty Spotlight: Humanities professor’s art know-how elevates courses
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Written by: Emily Hollingshead
Photo: Trent Tomengo lectures in front of his paintings. Photography by Ash M. Photography.
Favorite dessert: Cheesecake
Skill you want to learn: Build furniture
Favorite artist(s): Depends on the day, but Wassily Kandinsky, Aaron Douglas, Archibald Motley, Botticelli, Titian, Vermeer, Fred Wilson, Josef Albers, Peter Paul Rubens. For me, “favorite” is determined by the things I can learn from an artist’s work, which help me in creating my own works.
In his career as a professional artist, he specializes in portraiture. “What draws me to portraiture is people,” said Tomengo. “All of my work is based on people and the dignity that each person deserves as a human being.” He has done portraits based on religious and historical themes as well as those that draw on the subjects’ personal lives.
Before putting any marks on canvas, he takes time getting to know his subject, both through conversation and careful study to appropriately channel their intentions, energy and aspirations. He paints his portraits by mounting detail, breaking down each area into more and more specific color tones to capture the right highlights and shadows.
Tomengo brings this same attention to detail into his humanities courses. He uses a clearly organized curriculum and a transparent grading system to help set up his students for success. “I show my enthusiasm for what I am teaching, which in turn, enables them to be excited about what they are learning,” said Tomengo. For him, the best thing about teaching is seeing the spark of interest in students about ideas and art and watching them incorporate it into their lives.
His breadth of experience allows him to bring a unique perspective to his teaching. His humanities students benefit from his artistic background as they explore different time periods’ cultures, giving them an insight to technique and methodology. As a former assistant curator at the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, Tomengo can provide students with an insider’s look at museums as educational institutions and their value to society.
To those starting out in college, Tomengo advises them to “Stick to the educational program until you attain the degree despite any misgivings you may have or any misgivings anyone else has about you.” If you are interested in seeing more of Tomengo’s work, you can visit his site trenttomengo.com. If you want to learn more about Seminole State’s upcoming humanities courses, visit seminolestate.edu/catalog/courses/hum.
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