MCC-Penn Valley student couple win awards, charm with their love of learning

Carolyn and Don Anderson

Don and Carolyn Anderson are no strangers to Metropolitan Community College. They have a shared MCC history that goes back to the 1960s.

Fast forward to the 2010s and they are still leaving a lasting impression, as together they take art classes at MCC-Penn Valley, winning honors and proving that lifelong learning can be joyous and rewarding.

Don and Carolyn now both have first-place finishes in a well-known local art exhibition. Don recently took  first place for a printmaking piece in a juried art show at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph.  Carolyn had a similar honor at the museum last year for her digital artwork.

They also have pieces in the MCC-Penn Valley Carter Art Center Student Art Show and Sale opening on Thursday, April 6.

And some of their art is selling!

“It’s really fun to know that people like it well enough to buy it and take it home and hang it or give it as a gift. It just makes you feel good,” says Don.

Carolyn confirms, “That’s kind of a cool thing. A little part of you is out there. It’s neat.”

How did this happen?

The charming pair came to MCC in 2012 to take classes after retiring from successful careers in 2011. Don had worked in the printing, packaging and graphics art industry in Kansas City for 30-plus years on the customer service side. Carolyn, a math professor and math book author, had taught in the North Kansas City schools and at Park University.

Carolyn, who discovered that the graphic artists made as much from her books as she did, suggested to Don they take classes in retirement, she to perhaps add a skill to her book projects, he to explore the art part behind printmaking.

Since then, the Andersons have taken digital photography, digital imaging and silk screening classes. Some of the classes they’ve taken a couple of times and as Don says, they just keep getting “better and better.”

“This is an incredible place. We are so fortunate for the community to have this,” says Carolyn.

And Carolyn would know. She graduated from what was Metropolitan Junior College (later renamed MCC) in 1966 with an associate in science degree.

Don’s connection to the College started in the ’60s as well, after he graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute and took summer classes at MCC.

The couple met in the Westport area and moved to the Northland after getting married,  so coming back to MCC is like a homecoming of sorts.

“I have always believed in life  learning. Learning is just like the coolest thing in the world,” says Carolyn.

“We all need to be life learners. The world changes, and if you are not a life learner, it’s sad.”

The Andersons praise their primary instructor, Mary Beth Moley, as “inspiring.”

“None of this would work without the instruction. You build on the knowledge base she (Mary Beth) gives you and then you go off on your own and create your own ideas. It’s kind of spontaneous,” Don says.

“It’s always fun. We love critique time, because everyone puts up their work and the age is not there.”

Moley says the couple has some “great new work to share” at the upcoming show and is excited for them and their success.

Carolyn says they’ve “learned so much” from the younger students, who are “amazed” at the older couple.

“Because I guess when you are our age, you are supposed to sit and watch TV all day,” she says, “and we’re never home, we’re always busy doing something!”

More on the Andersons’ awards at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph:

  • The Membership Exhibition showcases the talents of museum members. It is open to current members of the Albrecht-Kemper. Each member may submit two original works not previously exhibited at the museum. Artworks are divided into nine categories (Oil/Acrylic Painting; Watercolor Painting; Drawing; Printmaking; Photography; Sculpture & Ceramics; 2-D Mixed Media; Digital Art; Fiber & Textiles).  The exhibition is judged and awards presented in each category.
  • For Don’s 2017 honors, click here.
  • For Carolyn’s 2017 honors, click here.

For more on the 2017 MCC-Penn Valley Carter Art Center Student Art Show & Sale, click here.