Carolyn Copple shares how her passion for art came full circle


Courtesy of Ulrich Art Museum

Carolyn Copple stands next to Millie the Millipede on the Wichita State University campus.

Working at the Ulrich Museum of Art was not in the original plan for Caroyln Copple when she decided to attend Wichita State University. However, it ended up becoming her home away from home.

Copple worked at Ulrich in 2006 as an intern. In 2007, she became the Membership and Special Events Manager, and has stayed in that role ever since then. Copple worked in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years. She originally went to WSU when she was younger to study Creative Writing. In her 40s, she went back to school to get her art history degree. 

The story of how Copple started working at the Ulrich is unique and quite simple. She said she enjoys her job because every day is different and she gets to interact with the community. 

“I just walked across one day and knocked on the door and asked if I could volunteer,” Copple said. “I kind of found that I liked the community involvement. It was a kind of mix of two worlds. Every day is a little bit different, whatever going on is the most important thing.”

Copple has been involved in art since she was young and still fills her free time with many forms of art— Including pencil and graphite drawing and painting. 

“I have always done art,” Copple said. “I was involved from elementary and on. When I was in high school I thought I wanted to be a commercial artist or fashion designer.”

Copple has planned several events at the Ulrich, one of those events that she is passionate about is called Empty Bowls. 

“It is a nationwide effort to raise money about hunger in communities,” Copple said. “The community comes and pays $25, we have competition for chillies. In exchange you get to pick a bowl and take it with you. The money we raise goes to the Kansas Food banks. Through securing donations, then having the last five years we’ve reached out nationally to artists.”

Copple’s effort to keep the Ulrich running does not go unnoticed by community members and Wichita State faculty and staff. One person that has recognized her hard work is Senior Instructor at the Elliott School of Communication Madeline McCullough. She used to work with Copple at the Ulrich as the Interim Communication Director. McCullough said that Copple is very good at her job and works hard to make sure events at the Ulrich are planned out effectively. 

“She’s not a bookkeeper,” McCullough said. “She understands the Ulrich inside and out.”

“I would describe Carolyn as, one of the hardest workers I have ever met,” McCullough said. “She is focussed and professional, kind and inclusive; she is very diligent.” 

Overall, Copple wants people to know that the Ulrich is a safe and welcoming place to come to. 

“It is a place of learning and growth,” Copple said “You can come here and find peace, and joy, and comfort. We are kind of a quiet place.”