Alumni receives the 2014 President’s Art and Activism Award

Mar. 4, 2014

Alumni receives the 2014 President’s Art and Activism Award

CHICAGO (March 4, 2014) - “Photojournalism led me to art,” said Webster alumna Janice Nesser-Chu. Nesser-Chu – an educator, media artist and activist - was awarded the President’s Art and Activism Award by the Women’s Caucus for Art in early February, 2014.

After working in the field of journalism, Nesser-Chu went on to receive her Masters in Fine Arts at Webster University’s Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts in 1998.  She was part of the first class at Webster to graduate from the Art Department with a master’s.

The WCA supports a mission to create a community through art, education and social activism. With the first award for Lifetime Achievement given in 1979 in President Jimmy Carter’s oval office, the organization continues to honor a full range of distinguished achievements in the visual art professions.

“I was humbled to be joining the ranks of so many exemplary women who have received this prestigious award, such as Juana Guzman, Maria Torres, Catherine Opie and Susan Fisher Sterling,” said Nesser-Chu.

The annual WCA Award celebration is the longest running national award for women in the arts. The organization acknowledged Nesser-Chu’s work centered on social activism, education, mentorship and promotion of women in the arts. She is currently the chair of the Arts and Humanities Department and professor of art at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley.  She serves on the national board of the WCA as the Legacy Campaign Director, facilitating donations and raising funds to ensure that women’s art will be cataloged, collected and preserved in museums and institutions throughout the country. 

The art department at Webster challenged her as an artist and scholar. “It (Webster) was inviting, small, mentoring, nurturing and the faculty was exceptional,” said Nesser-Chu.  She goes on to explain the role women have played in inspiring most of her artwork. “My inspirations come from the women in my family who most of my work is based on and all the women artists and art historians who have paved the way for me.”

Since graduating, her artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally for more than 20 years and is included in many permanent collections. 

 Nesser-Chu continues to support and grow the art community and gives advice to students in the field to “believe in yourself, never accept the limitations of the art form or of your life circumstances.”

You can find out more on the WCA by visiting and to view Nesser-Chu’s artwork and upcoming or current exhibitions at