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Department Pride: Art Department

May 1, 2018

So what do art majors do? For people who don’t frequent South Campus often because their classes confine them to Main Campus, it can be a mystery as to what goes on at the oldest part of campus. Oftentimes people think that art majors are painting or drawing all day long, but there is so much more to the department than that. Within the Art Department at Moravian College, there are four tracks that students are able to choose from: Art Education, Art History & Criticism, Graphic & Interactive Design, and Studio Art. And if majoring art isn’t for you, one can choose to pursue a minor in Art, Art History, Graphic & Interactive Design, or Photo-Media Arts. As an art major myself, I admit that the department is small, but slowly growing, and regardless of what track students decide to pursue, you’re bound to know almost everyone in the department.

Each professor is willing to share advice, and give helpful critiques in order to improve their student’s work, which not only helps the young artists develop and refine their skills, but also helps them learn how to accept critical feedback and grow as a professional so they are competitive in their field. To get a better understanding of the Art Department and why many are choosing to pursue an Art Degree, let me introduce you to four students who can be found late in the studios and computer labs of South Campus : Angela Kilburg, Cody Abrachinsky, Jillian McLuhan, and Katie Lynskey. Hear from professors as well: Camille Murphy (Graphic & Interactive Design), and Natessa Amin (Studio Art).

ANGELA

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1. What do you find unique about the Art Department, and why did you decide to declare as an art major?

Specifically looking at the graphic design track, I really appreciate the blend of foundational studio classes mixed with digital classes on the computer even in a student's first year. This was unique to Moravian-some design curriculums I looked at skipped the studio all together and others kept students in studio classes and didn't present their first design class on the computer until their junior year. The track is also always evolving to stay on top of the industry. Just in the four years I've been at Moravian, an Interactive 2 class was added as well as a UX/UI (user experience/user interface) course focusing on app design. There's a balance between learning the 'old school way' and proper craftsmanship while staying modern and contemporary with our design and presentations.

I had already decided on graphic design when I applied to Moravian so I declared my major as soon as I could!

2. How has the Art Department helped you pursue your career goals.

Where do I even start?!?! The Art Department and all of its faculty and staff have provided me so much support, both in and out of the classroom. My sophomore year, Camille Murphy, who I had for publication design, pushed me out of my comfort zone in applying for a contest and based the class curriculum around the SPD's Student Competition. While there were days I was tired of looking at the same design piece, we worked through so many drafts of our magazine spreads and they improved through each new revision. I wouldn't have entered the contest on my own if Camille hadn't encouraged us to do so. In the end, all those late night hours in the Mac lab paid off because I was awarded first place in the competition. This launched me into New York City for my first major design internship at Bloomberg Businessweek. Through this internship, I got to experience publication design in the consumer world, rather than just the classroom, as well as living in a new city as a design professional.

Apart from my contest award, Studio South, Moravian's student design firm under the direction of the Art Department, has strengthened not only my design skills but also my business knowledge and client interactions. Having the opportunity to design for a club or organization outside of the classroom is unique and presents real-world challenges like budgets, time constraints, printers, etc. After one year on the design staff of Studio South, I was voted Art Director and have been serving as the student leader of the organization for two years. This has allowed me to lead and shape the organization for the college and mentor underclassmen just as I was mentored by student leaders before me. Through this position I've gained a sense of confidence in my design knowledge and continue to improve on my communication skills, project management, and client interaction. Being a part of Studio South has ultimately helped me earn other internships at agencies both in Bethlehem and Pittsburgh, PA and will hopefully help me land my first full time position at a creative studio or agency post-graduation.

3. If you could experiment with any type of medium, what would it be?

This semester I'm taking a Screen-printing class with Doug Zucco and I'm loving it! I love how it relates to graphic design and its history but yet is a completely unique medium. I'd love to experiment with this more.

4. What is one class that you wish you could take, that Moravian College does not offer?

I'd love to dive deeper into social media marketing with a class dedicated to analyzing each platform and discussions surrounding current trends and how to best utilize each platform for different audiences.

5. Do you have any advice for students interested in art?

Think about whether or not art is a hobby for you or something you want to immerse yourself in professionally. Design in the professional world is filled with critiques and client comments. The critiques and revisions make you a stronger designer, but there's definitely a learning curve to removing yourself from a piece to satisfy a client's needs. And stay passionate! Sometimes it's easy to feel burned out of creative energy when your day job depends on it. Stay passionate and make sure you're expressing yourself in a way that's for yourself, through whatever artistic medium works for you (for me, it's dance :).

CODY

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1. What do you find unique about the Art Department, and why did you decide to declare as an art major?

I find the faculty specializes in their own unique craft, and the ability to own a personal art studio.

I decided to declare art as a major shortly after transferring from Northampton Community College. I was studied automotive technology at the time. I took a visual foundations course with Doug Zucco, who also teaches at Moravian College. This is where I found my passion for painting and decided to change my major to pursue a career in art.

2. How has the Art Department helped you pursue your career goals.

The art department has provided me with discipline in my craft and strengthened my social skills necessary to succeed in an art career path

3. If you could experiment with any type of medium, what would it be?

Encaustic Wax: it is a challenging and unforgiving material that requires years of dedication to master.

4. What is one class that you wish you could take, that Moravian College does not offer?

Glass Blowing, I took a class years ago at The Banana Factory and truly enjoyed it.

5. Do you have any advice for students interested in art?

Along with one’s studies, I believe networking in the local artist community is very important.

JILLIAN

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1. What do you find unique about the Art Department, and why did you decide to declare as an art major?

I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in the art field, creating and enjoying art has been something I have always loved to do and get better at.  I came to Moravian with that intent in mind. I find that the Art Department has faculty who are thriving in the art scene and have the best advice to give.  They’re experienced and have the student’s best interest in mind. For me, what’s been especially unique is how much I’m able to achieve within the Art Department here at Moravian.

2. How has the Art Department helped you pursue your career goals.

I’ve worked hard in and out of the classroom and I’ve been given amazing opportunities because of it.  Within a year I’ve become the first sophomore to be elected President of Art Club and the first sophomore to be granted studio privileges.  The Art Department here won’t limit you if you’re willing to work for goals that seem impossible. I have been networking within the Art Department since arriving at Moravian and with these connections I have been able to travel to meet artists whom we’ve held gallery openings for, go on trips to see life changing art, and opportunities like the SOAR program that I’m hoping to be a part of.  All of these opportunities allow me to experience what different career paths are available to me and what a busy day in the life of an artist can be.

3. If you could experiment with any type of medium, what would it be?

I think I’d like to try old printing techniques like etching and woodcuts.  I plan on taking some of Doug Zucco’s printmaking courses in the future which is exciting because I’ve never done any printmaking before.

4. What is one class that you wish you could take, that Moravian College does not offer?

I know Moravian has offered this course occasionally in the past but I’d really like to take an art installation class to learn the basics of site-specific murals, sculptures and installations.

5. Do you have any advice for students interested in art?

Take the advice of your professors but don’t try and make work specific to what you think they’d like, an artist should always make work that satisfies their own interests.

I think it’s very important to appreciate those who love viewing and talking about art, not everyone likes to create art but it’s crucial for people to understand that art is in every aspect of one’s life.  Take the time to compliment people’s work, support local artisans, take art courses and go to galleries.

The work that you have to do is extremely hard and sometimes you’ll hate it but if you love to create art, you’ll never be unhappy about doing it.  Sometimes when my art workload gets frustrating, I like to remind myself that making art is more enjoyable to me than writing an essay. Just a little ‘hey, remember you’re creating something and you love to do that, so have some more fun with it’ is all you need to get back into that healthy mindset.

My last piece of advice is to try not to procrastinate!  It seems obvious but homework for studio classes piles up so easily and doing a little bit of a piece here and there will keep ideas fresh and you won’t hate yourself the night before for not doing your homework earlier.

KATIE

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1. What do you find unique about the Art Department, and why did you decide to declare as an art major?

I love how small and tight-knit the art department is. The professors are much more personable which makes it extremely easy to approach them with any questions or problems I have. I also like the loose structure of classes. The classes aren't built around passing exams, but creating work that will make money in the future. There is a kind of "free flow" of when we work on projects that helps break from the dreariness of a routine, although, some professors are more structured than others.

When I was applying to college I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career. I've always had good grades in everything, so I was free to pursue whatever I wanted, but there was something about drawing and making art that constantly brought me back to it. It was a different kind of enjoyment than I was used to with other academic subjects. I decided that whatever I ended up doing that I would do something creative, so I declared as a graphic design major as soon as I was able to. I have found other passions in other fields, such as computer science, but my gut instinct to pursue a career in the arts still stands.

2. How has the Art Department helped you pursue your career goals.

They have helped me with getting in touch with agencies I could possibly work at as well as occasionally providing me with high-profile freelance work that not only pays, but helps me build up my portfolio and experiences. When I realized that I wanted to work in game design, but found little to no classes here on the subject, the art department tried making the most out of my situation by opening me up to other opportunities like computer science. They also started offering the occasional animation course during May term.

3. If you could experiment with any type of medium, what would it be?

I would like to do more digital 3D work if I could. I would love to be able to build environments and people on a 3D scale rather than painting a flat 2D image.

4. What is one class that you wish you could take, that Moravian College does not offer?

Anything related to game design and animation. I found out too late that working in the game industry was something I wanted to do, but Moravian does not offer any such classes, so I have to make the most by teaching myself with my thesis and honors project.

5. Do you have any advice for students interested in art?

Stagger how you work on projects! It's possible to do an entire a project in a day or two but you'll quickly begin to hate what you're doing. Taking a break and returning to it later can really help how you tackle design issues. Don't be afraid to take a step back if you need to! Trust me, you'll thank yourself later.

NATESSA

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1.When did you realize you wanted to pursue art?

Art has always been an important part of my life but I realized I wanted to pursue a career in the arts when I was in high school. I had an amazing high school art teacher, Rita Baragona, who was extremely encouraging and supportive. Rita is a practicing artist and she would take us to her studio as well as trips to NYC to visit galleries and museums. I'm so grateful for those experiences because they showed me it was possible to sustain a life as an artist.

2. What drew you to teach at Moravian College’s Art Department?

I was so excited when I heard there was a teaching position open in the Art Department at Moravian! My mom is an alumna of the school so I've known about Moravian my entire life and spent a lot of time in Bethlehem growing up. I was specifically drawn to the teaching model and Philosophy of the Art Department here, I felt right away that it aligned with my own values.

3. What is one of the most memorable projects/experiences you have had as a result of being in a creative field?

In 2014, I received a travel fellowship to visit gardens and palaces in India. I spent 5 weeks winding through India in every form of transportation, every day I saw something new or unfamiliar. It was an experience that has left quite an imprint on me and has greatly influenced my work.

4. Some things that you have always wanted to learn, but never did?

I've actually never learned to throw clay on a wheel! I'd also love to learn how to blow glass and use a sewing machine.

5. Do you have any advice for students who are interested in pursuing a major in art?

Take an Art course, join the Art Club, and get involved as soon as possible. We have such a vibrant and supportive community down on South Campus, come be a part of it!