PITTSBURG — James Oliver, chair of Pittsburg State University’s Art Department, has been appointed by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly to the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission.

“The creative arts industry is a very important piece of our state’s history,” Kelly said in a press release. “In difficult times, the arts bring people together – from all across Kansas. Creativity is what makes Kansas an extraordinary place to live. It amplifies everything we find important and celebrates our greatest accomplishments. When our creative arts industry thrives, so does our state.”

The commission is part of the Kansas Department of Commerce and “is focused on measuring, promoting, supporting and expanding Kansas’ creative industry to grow the state’s economy and foster creative industry-related jobs,” according to a press release from the governor’s office. “The commission’s 11 members must be representative of the major arts fields.”

In addition to serving as PSU Art Department chair, Oliver “teaches art courses and has been instrumental in collaborative art projects with Pittsburg Community Schools and with SEK ArtFest in Downtown Pittsburg,” a university press release notes. SEK ArtFest’s Jury Art Show is coming up Aug. 31, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Frisco Event Center as part of Little Balkans Days.

Prior to teaching at PSU, Oliver was an assistant professor of painting and drawing at Denison University, where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Denison University. He additionally holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Tulane University and a master’s degree from Eastern Illinois University.

In an email to the Morning Sun, Oliver wrote that it was “very exciting to be appointed” to the commission. “This appointment will allow me an understanding of how the artists that we graduate will be able to further their careers in a broader context.”

Oliver wrote that he is “still learning what the role and goals of the Creative Arts Industries Commission are as a whole” and as such he does not yet have specific priorities for what he hopes to accomplish in his new position on the commission, but added that he hopes “to be an advocate for the arts in the SEK region.”

Prior to his appointment, Oliver knew of the commission, although he was not as extensively familiar with what it does on a day to day basis as he hopes to become now that he has been appointed to it. “So when I was asked to apply, I jumped at the opportunity,” he wrote.