The EMU School of Art and Design consists of four undergraduate concentrations such as graphic design, two-dimensional, three dimensional and photography/new media and three graduate programs such as studio art, art history and visual art education.
EMU art students from differing concentrations and levels of experience spoke on their time in the School of Art and Design and as artists.
CaraMia Bertoni is currently aquiring her Masters degree in graphic design at EMU. She completed her BFA degree in graphic design at EMU in December of 2016.
Bertoni has had an overall positive experience with EMU’s art program.
“I do really love the art program,” said Bertoni. “I love how professors are really willing to cross-connect disciplines and push you to do other disciplines as well because I feel like with a lot of other schools you just focus on what your going for.”
Her love for the program is not free of concern, she voiced a concern for lack of fundings and low enrollment.
Bertoni did not enter EMU as a committed art student.
“I fell in love with watercolors because you have to let yourself lose control,” Bertoni continued. ”In graphic design work I was completely in control. So having a balance of a medium I could really control and one that was more maluable, I think that’s why I loved them so much.”
In her free time, Bertoni paints with watercolors.
“In my personal spare time, I love just doing watercolor paintings of flowers,” she laughed.” Which sounds really cheesy but I love watercolors.”
Bertoni provided insight into the difference between her undergraduate verses her graduate studies. She describes her undergraduate studies as very technical, while her graduate studies have been more conceptual.
“With my masters, I’m learning now just to be very conceptual and to go beyond those boundaries that we were given, which has been amazing,” said Bertoni.
Sydney Gutowski is a two-dimensional concentration major who draws and paints. Gutowski also produces three-dimensional art with fibers and textiles. She has been praticing art since her senior year of high school.
“Once I decided I wanted to do art, Eastern was kind of the only option for me in my mind because my mom, my grandma and my aunt were all in the art program at Eastern at the same time in the early eighties.”
Gutowski describes her experience with EMU’s School of Art and Design as a positive one.
“[EMU’s art program] kind of realizes how you can mix mediums, which as an artist is a really interesting concept to grasp as an option.”
Her current direction is to be a curator, sell her own pieces and have her own shows. She added that her “dream goal” is to own her own art gallery in Plymouth, MI.
Taylor Orr is an EMU graduate student currently aquiring her MFA in interdiscplinary arts. Her current focus is fibers. Recently, she has been sewing beads onto animal pelts.
“My work explores and questions the ethics of agricultural processing and the inherent animal byproducts. I am responsive to how culture assigns worth to materials and the relationships between process, labor and value. I am mostly interested in how our decisions are informed by luxury, adornment and sensuality,” explained Orr in an artistic statement.
As an interdiscplinary artist, Orr’s work does not commit dominantly to one discipline or genre.
“I enjoy [working interdiscplinary] because I don’t feel like I’m locked into one specific type of art making.” Orr continued, “I’m kind of free to use any materials that fit into my concept.”
Orr’s professional goals are centered around her desire to make artwork full time.
I want to be a practicing artist after I graduate. That’s my main goal but I also need a way to pay the bills, so I’m hoping to either teach or find a job that’s in the arts. So maybe working for a gallery or working for a university,” she added. “I definitely want to be making artwork full time.”
Improvements Orr believes could be made to the program are to create more experimental spaces to create and showcase art.
Lauren Petty is a two-dimensional concentration major. She is a representational artist who works with a lot of acrylic and oil paints. Petty did not come into EMU as an art major. She came in as a Japanese major but after her freshman year, she changed it.
“The thought process is not what you would averagely do in other classroom environments. What I enjoy about it is being able to step away from the work and go throughout life and look at the world differently,” she laughed. “I know that sounds really corny.”
Petty raised a concern for funding as well.
“I don’t know how big [the budget] is but there are so many possible opportunities that the students aren’t able to have without the money, I hate to say.”
Despite this, Petty’s relationship with EMU’s School of Art and Design has been a beneficial one.
“Honestly, I think it’s a really good program even though Eastern is a small university. Because you work in an intimate environment with the professors and you get more feedback from them,” she said. “And honestly I went in thinking I was only gonna be doing drawing, which consists of charcoal and graphite, but they really turn you on to new methods and new materials.”
Petty’s current direction is to continue on to graduate school and eventually become a professor either in the United States or Japan.
Ronan Sampson is a three dimensional concentration major who mostly does sculptural ceramics or scultural ceramics with wood or fibers to it.
Sampson’s enjoyment of sculptural ceramics is rooted in his childhood experiences with things like dirt, sand castles and PlayDough.
”I also like how sturdy the medium is. I know ceramics sounds fragile to a lot of people but, obviously, it survives thousands of years.”
Sampson, like the previous students mentioned, has had a productive experience in the School of Art and Design. He described the ways in which the program has helped him the most.
“The most helpful part for me of being at Eastern for art has been the way that critiques work in class,” explained Sampson. “Students and teachers are allowed to have different opinions, like what works about a piece and what doesn’t has been really helpful for me to hear if other people are reading what I’m doing the way I want it to be read.”
Despite this productivity, Sampson voiced his concern for the budget as well.
“Right now, the biggest issue in the Art and Design department is budget issues,” said Sampson.
Thus far, Sampson has showcased and sold his artwork in art galleries on campus and online. He also has a solo show coming up. Professionally, he hopes to work in a public studio where part of his income could be selling his own work but another part maintaining the studio. He would also prefer if this studio provided an accessible, inexpensive space to practice ceramics for the public.