Welsh poet/author visits Wayland

PLAINVIEW -- Wayland Baptist University students were treated to a cultural exchange this week as Welsh poet and author Dr. David Rowe and his wife, Ann, an accomplished artist and potter, shared their work with several classes and in several other special events. The Rowes’ visit culminated in Friday’s honors luncheon at which time Dr. Rowe shared with students, faculty and staff his latest project: George Catlin and the Voyages of Discovery.

Friday’s luncheon honors those students in various honor societies as well as those participating in Wayland’s honors program, a program designed to challenge those students who strive to get the most out of their academic endeavors.

Two Wayland honors students, Nick Pruitt and Lori Pretzer, have completed their honors theses and gave a brief overview of their work. Pretzer, working on a chemistry project, has designed a system and put together extensive research for a method of removing ammonia from water. Pruitt’s research delves into the lives of Ku Klux Klan members in West Texas in the early 20th century. Pruitt will present his finding in a public forum on Monday, April 23, at 7 p.m. in the Gates Hall auditorium, on the second floor of Gates Hall. Pretzer will present her research at a later date.

In his address to the group, Dr. Rowe expressed his excitement to be back at Wayland. He first visited the university eight years ago when a one-man play he had written based on medieval poetry was being presented in Wayland’s studio theatre by his friend and fellow native of Wales, Mansel David. Rowe said the idea for his latest project was born eight years ago during his visit to Wayland and the surrounding area.

“Coming back to Wayland really kind of closes a circle for me,” Rowe said. “What I have been working on for the last eight years started here. It was after leaving you, in Sante Fe, I bumped into a person who I have been working with for the last couple of years, and who will be coming to Wales in October to open a play that started in Wayland eight years ago. This is closing a circle and it is really nice to come back.”

Dr. Rowe’s latest project is a play that focuses on the life of George Catlin (1796-1872), an artist who spent much of his life trying to capture the essence of Native American culture prior to the influence of European civilization. Rowe has written a play that will open in Wales in October.

“He’s one of the early American pioneer western painters,” Rowe said, “probably the first and certainly one of the more interesting ones.”

Catlin visited tribes that were not well known at the time, traveling throughout the west for several years. Rowe said Catlin completed a remarkable collection of paintings, recording Native American costumes and ceremonies. Through his journey’s Catlin put together what Dr. Rowe called “an unparalleled record of Native Americans.” And through his journey into the unknown cultures, Catlin learned not only about others, but about himself, as well.

Dr. Rowe compared Catlin’s voyage of discover to the voyage that the students will embark upon once they graduate.

“We all go on a voyage,” he said. “But whether we discover anything and what we discover is up to us.

“Those of use who are older are fortunate for young people who are going to set out and enrich the world.”