COD art instructor leaves legacy

BY VIRGINIA SANTILLANES

STUDENT CONTRIBUTOR

Susan Smith Evans, retired art and photography instructor at College of Desert (COD) died on March 6 at her home in Palm Desert when her car reportedly rolled over her in her driveway. Evans was 68.

During her time as an instructor at COD, she was named Outstanding Adjunct Faculty of the Year in 2001 and earned emeritus status in 2011.  Prior to becoming an instructor, Evans was an art therapist at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital.

Susan knew from an early age that she wanted to be an artist and that she loved to teach. Susan received her B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska and her M.F.A. from the School of Art Institute in Chicago. She worked as an adjunct art and photography instructor for 24 years.  She was a world traveler with her husband Ron. Her first date with Ron was a year-long trip around the world studying Asian ceramics and sculpture, with Susan serving as Ron’s photographer.  Ron, also a COD instructor, built the home they lived in together for 33 years.

After her retirement, Evans volunteered and was a loyal member at Desert Art Center, and member of the “Middle School Art Project” team where she taught printmaking. Evans taught classes at Venus Studios Art Supply and was a mentor to Debra Ann Mumm, the owner. Mumm is also the founder of the recently opened Create Center of the Arts where Susan was member and instrumental to the launch.  Evan’s art is displayed at both centers.  

Evan’s work can be viewed throughout the Coachella Valley and close to campus at the Palm Desert Library located in the community room where she painted a 500-square-foot mural (dedicated in 2006).  At the old Art COD building is a mural Evans and her students painted back in 2011.  Currently, her art is in exhibits at La Quinta Museum and the University of California Riverside (UCR) Palm Desert Campus until April 23.

Mumm, owner of Venus Studios Art Supply and founder of Create Center of the Art, both in Palm Desert said, “Susan was a personal friend and mentor for nearly thirty years… Her strong, gentle and supportive instruction influenced my path as an artist and was a huge inspiration and role model in community service.”

Mumm had seen Evans a few hours before her death. “She dropped by after being at Desert Art Center, she was so happy to have sold a drawing. Susan came by the Creative Center of the Arts, to finish her designs on art bags before heading home.”  Evans died less than a few hours at her home after that.  

Donations can be made to an account in Susan’s name at Altura Credit Union. All proceeds will be used to continue Susan’s work in art education programs. The funds will go to Desert Art Center and Create Center of the Arts. Mumm is setting up the art programs and screen printing in honor of Evans so her legacy can live on.”

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