Two retiring Hancock College fine arts instructors — Marti Fast and David Passage — will be honored during this week's Dance Spectrum program. Together, they have more than a half-century of experience at the college and more than 100 years of professional work.
A former student, Fast joined the Hancock College faculty 32 years ago. She currently serves as an associate faculty member in the art department and spent the last 21 years as director of the college's Ann Foxworthy Gallery.
During her tenure at Hancock, Fast curated hundreds of exhibits at the gallery and coordinated annual visits from a group of Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery. She has also served as member of the college's Art on Campus committee and advocate for visual and performing arts.
"Teaching is a joy, and there is no greater reward than witnessing moments when the lights go on for my students as they learn to see with new eyes," Fast said. "Being a faculty member at Hancock is the best job in the world, and I’ve learned something new every single day from my students and colleagues."
Fast served as president of the Santa Maria Arts Council, participated in the City of Lompoc’s Mural-in-a-Day project and received the arts council's Individual Grants in the Arts Award in 2014.
She credits her parents, Nat and Marcie Fast, for cultivating her love of the arts that led her to become an artist.
A 20-year photography instructor at Hancock, Passage describes teaching as "the greatest gig" and credits students, staff and faculty with inspiring him to share his passion for photography.
"I love that photographs, machine-made images, can be about how things look, but they can also be about ideas," Passage said. "When photography was first born in 1839, people didn’t know how to understand this radically different way of making pictures. It looked most like paintings to them so they talked about it in terms of painting. In truth, photography, as an informational medium, probably has more to do with language than with art."
Passage, who said many of his idols were English teachers before they became photographers, graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in English. He fell in love with photography during one of Ansel Adams' workshops in Yosemite National Park and assisted with the workshops for a few years.
After that, Passage opted to go back to school. He earned a bachelor's and master's in fine arts from San Francisco Art Institute and has had work appear in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for more than 25 years.
Passage worked as a commercial printer before joining the Hancock staff.