Alumnus Now President of College Art Association of America


James Hopfensperger, a College of Arts & Letters alumnus and former Chair of MSU’s Department of Art & Art History, is now President of the College Art Association of America (CAA), a leading international society and professional organization that works to advance visual arts and their understanding through advocacy, intellectual engagement, and a commitment to the diversity of practices and practitioners. 

Hopfensperger’s two-year appointment as CAA President runs from 2018 to 2020. 

“I am grateful for this opportunity and excited about the work ahead,” he said, adding that he plans to focus on sustaining CAA’s outstanding programs and services while simultaneously identifying the organization’s next purposes. “Full attention to both matters seems essential if we are to extend a highly distinguished history of advocacy for artists, art historians, scholars, curators, critics, designers, collectors, and educators.”

Hopfensperger, who earned his B.A. in Studio Art from MSU in 1980 before going on to earn his M.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and M.F.A. from the University of Michigan, is a Professor of Art at Western Michigan University’s Gwen Frostic School of Art. 

A visual artist whose pieces include furniture and metal art works, Hopfensperger continues to create his own art, which has been shown nationally and internationally in more than 100 exhibitions at venues including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand, Lever House in New York City, University of Iowa Museum of Art, University of Oregon Museum of Art, State Museum of Pennsylvania, North Carolina Museum of History, and National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

I am drawn to how creating art/design objects — one at a time and by hand — reinforces and reaffirms what it means to be a human being.

“I am drawn to how creating art/design objects — one at a time and by hand — reinforces and reaffirms what it means to be a human being,” Hopfensperger said. “Thinking with my hands, my eyes, and my mind to conceive well-designed and useful articles makes me feel whole. As an undergraduate at MSU, I was offered opportunities to observe and learn from superb faculty mentors. Key role models – such as Karl Wolter, Alan Mette, Irv Taran, and others – helped inform my artistic practice while reinforcing the enduring value of lifelong learning.”

Hopfensperger served as Chair of the Department of Art & Art History at Michigan State University (now the Department of Art, Art History, and Design) from 2000 to 2003. Other past positions include serving as Senior Associate Dean in the College of Fine Arts at Western Michigan University and Head of the Studio Art Program at Pennsylvania State University. He also taught at Massachusetts College of Art, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Skidmore College, University of Michigan, and North Carolina State University.