“One of my primary goals as a teacher is to provide learning experiences that highlight the importance of community, both the community within the classroom and the communities beyond it.”
Bringing together the community through tattoos of words from a poem. Documenting the intricacies of the lives of Lexington’s drag queens and kings through photos and short written vignettes. Photographing area residents seated on the furniture they had left at the curb—and then convincing them to share personal stories related to the discarded items. Hiding handmade dolls in nooks and crannies along the Limestone Avenue corridor and encouraging local residents to find the dolls and give them good homes.
These are just a small sampling of the types of community projects Kremena Todorova has pursued with her favorite collaborator, Transylvania art professor Kurt Gohde. Some projects, such as the 1,000 Dolls project and temporary mural installations, have been associated with the Community Engagement Through the Arts class that Todorova and Gohde teach at Transylvania. Not only do students eagerly embrace collaborating with area residents on these art projects, but the local denizens frequently come to class.
Todorova’s goal is to nudge students beyond the confines of the Transylvania campus and out of their comfort zones. She wants her students to develop a curiosity about the world and the people in it so they can “sympathize with lives and experiences that are unlike their own,” much the same way we do when we read. By opening our imaginations, we become better readers, better writers, and better citizens.
This interdisciplinary, community-based approach is one of the advantages that Todorova believes Transylvania offers its students. Her role is to “enable each student to find his or her voice by creating a classroom environment that thrives on intellectual curiosity and openness.” With small classes, the English faculty can give the personal attention students need to feel comfortable stepping away from the familiar and embracing bold new ideas.
“I enjoy most the opportunity to be with young people whose capacity for wonder and for idealism seems limitless.”
- "The Lexington Tattoo Project." NoLi CDC, 2014.
- "Discarded Documents." North of Center 2, February 2011: 2. Co-authored with Kurt Gohde.
- "Passing through Laramie to Find Humanity in Lexington." Progress Lexington, April 22, 2010. Co-authored with Kurt Gohde.
- "Stitching the community together: Transy Students and North Limestone." North of Center, January 13, 2010: 1, 2. Co-authored with Kurt Gohde.
- "'A splinter in the toe': Mothering and Democracy in Grace Paley's Fiction." The Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering 11.1 (Spring 2009): 291-301.
- "Building Community on North Limestone." Peaceways, August 2008: 3. Co-authored with Kurt Gohde.
- "Community, art and economics on North Limestone." Business Lexington, 16 May 2008: 29. Co-authored with Kurt Gohde.
- "'Oy, a good men!': Urban Voices and Democracy in Henry Roth's Call It Sleep." Texas Studies in Literature and Language 48.3 (Fall 2006): 250-272.
- "'I will say the truth to the English people': The History of Mary Prince and the Meaning of English History." Texas Studies in Literature and Language 43.3 (Fall 2001): 285-302.
- Northern Lights, an installation of lanterns and community celebration, Castlewood Park and Lexington Art League. Made collectively with Community Engagement Through the Arts, 2014
- DISCARDED: IF, Idea Festival, Louisville, Sept. 2013. Collaborative work with Kurt Gohde.
- DISCARDED: San Antonio, University of Texas at San Antonio Art Gallery, Sept. 2013. Part of invitational show What’s Important Is. Collaborative work with Kurt Gohde.
- DISCARDED: Indianapolis, The Herron School for Art and Design, Indianapolis, Ind., 2012. Two-channel video installation and large-scale silver wall drawing, part of Couched Constructions, a group exhibition. Collaborative work with Kurt Gohde.
- DISCARDED: LA, The Cadillac Hotel, Venice Beach, Calif., 2012. Two-channel video projection of photographs and oral history interviews. Collaborative work with Kurt Gohde.
- Pasted, wheat-pasted public art mural, Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY.
- Good Morning: The American Inn Project. Cosmic Charlie's, Boomslang, Lexington, Ky., 2011. Collaborative work with Kurt Gohde.
- Pasted, four wheat-paste paper murals, Bullhorn Building, Sayre School, Sav's Grill, and Morlan Gallery, Lexington, Ky., 2011. Made collectively with Community Engagement Through the Arts 2011.
- DISCARDED: Lexington, Land of Tomorrow (LOT) Gallery, Lexington, Ky., 2011. Four-channel video projection of photographs and poetry, including an original song by Vandaveer. Collaborative work with Kurt Gohde.
- DISCARDED: Lexington, Good Foods Co-op, Art in the Café Series, Lexington, Ky., 2011. Exhibition of photographs. Collaborative work with Kurt Gohde.
- Royal Dandies, large-scale sculptural installation for the Illustrious Horse: Artists Respond to the Clara Peck Collection, Morlan Gallery, Transylvania University, 2010. Collaborative work with Kurt Gohde.
- Passing: Fashioning Drag, Installation and drag performances, Lexington Art League, April–June 2010. Collaborative work with Kurt Gohde.
- Passing North, Third Street Stuff & Coffee, Lexington, Ky. Exhibition of photographs, March 2009. Collaborative work with Kurt Gohde.
- Passing South, Johnny Angel's, Lexington, Ky. Exhibition of photographs, March 2009. Collaborative work with Kurt Gohde.
- Passing at Transylvania, William T. Young Library. Exhibition of photographs, March 2009. Collaborative work with Kurt Gohde.
Want to know more about Transylvania's English or art program?
Areas of research
- Ph.D., M.A., English, University of Notre Dame, 2003, 2001
- B.A., English, Hope College, 1997
- American Literature Post-1945
- Early Twentieth-Century American Literature, 1900–1945
- Literary Interpretations
- African American Literature
- American Women Writers and Ethnicity
- Passing in American Literature
- Fictions of Identity
- Dramas of Desire
- Contemporary Immigrant Narratives
- Writing for Writings Sake (with Martha Gehringer)
- Perspectives on Literature
- Introduction to Fiction
- Community Engagement Through the Arts (with Kurt Gohde)
- Creative Disruption (with Kurt Gohde)
Areas of research
- 20th- and 21st-century American literature
- Identity politics
- Urban theory
- Community-focused art
- Interventionist art
- Boulder Arts Commission Grant for the Boulder Tattoo Project, March 2014 (with Chelsea Pohl)
- 2013 Ace Weekly Model Citizens (with Kurt Gohde), December 2013
- Bingham Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2012
- Dr. Byron and Judy Young Faculty Development Grant for DISCARDED: Indianapolis, March 2012
- Jones Faculty Development Grant for DISCARDED: LA, February 2012
- Jones Faculty Development Grant for DISCARDED: LA, Summer 2011
- Jones Faculty Development Grant for The Nightgown Project, Summer 2010
- Monroe Moosnick Memorial Award for teaching, lifelong learning, and service to students, Transylvania University, 2010
- LexArts Community Project Grant for Community Engagement Through the Arts, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010
- Transylvania University 225 Celebration of Diversity Award, 2009
- Phi Kappa Tau Faculty Member of the Year Award, Transylvania University, 2009
- Jones Faculty Development Grant to write and present a paper at the International Conference on Art in Society, Venice, July 2009
- Kentucky Oral History Commission Grant forPassing II, Winter 2009
- Adviser for Jones Student Research, Transylvania University, Summer 2008
- Kentucky Oral History Commission Grant for Passing, Summer–Fall 2008
- Jones Faculty Development Grant for Passing, Summer 2008
- Modern Language Association
- College Art Association