When a reader reaches the end of a chapter, they have to turn the page. New characters are to be introduced, different scenarios will be explored, and the reader will be eager to read what is next.
Like books, life is made up of chapters, too. People have to start a new chapter at some point because life continues on.
Art professor Kit Hall, 67, will be flipping to the next chapter in her life after next semester. She will be retiring after being a full-time professor at Texas Wesleyan University since 1995.
Hall did not always know she would spend her professional years as an art professor. She was born and raised in Kingsville, Texas. That is also where she married her husband John Hall, Ed.D., a professor of psychology at Wesleyan, and had her two daughters, Adrienne Hall Peterson and LeRay Hauard.
In 1976, Hall and her family moved to Houston. There, she worked at two non-profit organizations, the Water Color Art Society and Da Camera.
Later on, the Hall family made a final move to Fort Worth, Texas. When they moved, Hall needed to decide what it was she wanted to do in life professionally. Her husband suggested she should go back to school.
“My husband said, ‘Why don’t you go back to school?’” Hall said. “I said, ‘I don’t think I’m smart enough to get a master’s in fine arts.’ I lacked confidence in that. Then I decided I love art and this is the next step to learn about it.”
Hall had been sitting in in a life drawing class taught by Mary Apple, who at the time was the chair for Wesleyan’s Art Department. She went to that class until she had to leave it for graduate school.
“When I left I said, ‘Mary, when I finish school I am going to come back to school and I am going to ask you for a job,’” Hall said.
She went to Texas Woman’s University to obtain her master’s in Fine Arts, graduating in 1993.
“So, I did get my master’s of fine arts from Texas Woman’s in painting and art history,” she said. “Then, I came back and applied for a position here at Wesleyan and was hired in 1995.”
What Hall did not expect was to be hired and become the department chair right off the bat. Apple had been diagnosed with cancer.
“Whether it was stupid or not, I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it,’” Hall said. “I learned a lot, and Mary lived only for a couple of more years. That left me with hiring somebody else to take her position. We hired a print maker, as well as sculptor. We were a dynamic Art Department. All of the sculptures that you see on campus now are a product of that.”
Hall’s life took a turn when the department was cut in 2006. She said she and her colleagues fought hard, but the department was too costly, considering the few majors enrolled.
Now the art professors teach fine arts courses.
Hall misses being able to develop long-term relationships with her students.
“(The students and I) get along fine, and we have great discussions, but there is no long-term [relationship],” she said. “There is no ‘Mrs. Hall, I’m going to come back to see you,’ or I can’t keep up with them. I really miss having (long-term student-teacher relationships).”
Hall feels it is the right time to retire.
“I feel young, I am energetic, and I want to continue making my own art, which is evolving,” she said. “It is kind of at a stage where I am going to be able to spend time on it and develop it in a unique way.”
John Hall has known Kit since 1963.
“For more than 50 years I’ve watched her,” he said. “She’s strong, tough, and knows what needs to be done. She has done a lot of things. A lot of them she goes quietly about doing them and just gets it done. If something is not right she will fight.”
He has been able to see how much she puts into her career.
“She has been very passionate about her job,” he said. “She made a full commitment to it when she came here in 1995. Gave it everything she had.”
Another person who has seen Hall work hard over the years is Terri Cummings, associate professor of art.
The two have been working together since 2002.
“Kit Hall is dynamo,” Cummings said. “She is organized, efficient, creative, keeps everyone on their feet. She is always prepared, has good ideas and she is a great listener.”
Cummings has developed great respect for Hall over the years. She admires how capable Hall is of being active not only professionally, but personally.
“She is going to be one of those people that when she retires, she is still going to have so much to do,” Cummings said. “She is a painter, she exhibits her artwork, she’s a scholar of Early Texas Artists, and in the last 20 years has become quite accomplished.”
Video by Elena Maldonado and Hannah Onder