Slane faculty well represented in Peoria's 40 Leaders Under 40

November 15, 2012

By Brigitte Graf '13

The Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts was well represented when the Peoria community held its annual 40 Leaders Under 40 celebration sponsored by InterBusiness Issues magazine.

Associate music professor John Orfe and Erin Zellefrow, director of University galleries, exhibitions and collections, were both honored at the event for their work promoting the arts in central Illinois. The annual 40 Leaders Under 40 list recognizes accomplished professionals under the age of 40 who demonstrate successful leadership in the greater Peoria area.

Including Orfe and Zellefrow, a total of three Bradley employees appeared on this year's list.

"It's a really wonderful affirmation of what I try to do in my field, in the classroom and in the greater community," Orfe said. "It's tremendously encouraging."

Orfe has been a part of the Bradley community for five years and said his work both on campus and in the community is driven by his love for music.

"There is a genuine hunger and appreciation for arts and culture in Peoria," he said. "I feel fortunate that I can make my living here sharing so many fascinating aspects about music " past, present and future."

Zellefrow, who is relatively new to Bradley and the Peoria area, oversees the University's art collections and currently serves as a board member at Backspace Collective. She is also a local artist-in-residence at Peoria's Prairie Center of the Arts. Zellefrow said community members have welcomed her mission of raising awareness for the arts, a very encouraging sign for her.

"I've been in Peoria only for about two and a half years now, and it's been such a great community," she said. "People are so ready to bring you on board to be a part of their activities. It's so easy to get excited and motivated about what you are doing. The community is so accessible."

Both honorees said they are especially enthusiastic about the work they do with students.

"Working with the students has been wonderful," said Zellefrow, who teaches as an affiliate instructor. "Seeing them learn to work with artists, artwork and all the techniques needed " not just hanging things on the wall but actually understanding the full scope of what goes into it all "has been fun."

Orfe said he attempts to walk students through centuries of music styles by connecting the sounds together and using different types of technologies in the classroom. This helps him stress that craft underlies art and that composing a piece of music involves more than the desire to express oneself.

"I bring in different types of music, and I've tried to make the lectures more participation-based," Orfe said, added that teaching has helped him when composing music. "We learn by doing. It's helpful to have so many resources from so many different media available for teaching and assessing student progress."