Art as Life
Immersive seminar previews the artist's life
by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
July 24, 2013
The artist’s life has many rewards, but it's no easy path. Successful artists need more than just technical skill, context, discipline and vision. They also must know how to effectively critique, present and promote their work; create in the absence of class assignments and deadlines; and work collaboratively with others in the arts community. In other words, they need to be able to follow through from the spark of
inspiration to a well-received major show.
Senior studio-art majors at Dickinson have an advantage: Each must take a yearlong studio-art seminar that requires them to plan and execute a major exhibition, every step of the way.
The work is both solitary and communal. Each senior is offered a studio in the Goodyear building, where they can create a body of work that encapsulates all they've learned at Dickinson thus far. Along the way, each is responsible for actively seeking out critiques from faculty members, visiting artists and peers—and for offering useful critiques of each other's work. They also keep current by visiting major galleries and meeting with young, working artists. And they work together to develop an overarching exhibition theme; write, edit and design the catalog; present a mid-year preview; design the exhibit space and do all of the other small and large tasks of putting together a major show.
Experiences such as these catch the attention of potential employers. Kalie Garrett '13 is an artistic director in an Anthropologie
store in New York and Caroline Stephenson is completing an internship at
Harvard University. Yixue Ge has served internships at both Sotheby’s and
Christies, and Sarah Gray ’13 will work at Dickinson as a resident artists
during the 2013-14 academic year.
“Our graduates are successful because they've already simulated the lives they’ll
have when they leave here,” says Barbara Diduk, professor of art & art history, who led the 2012-13 seminar. “We’re not teaching paradigms to follow. We’re teaching them
to observe how they work, and how to live successfully and independently as artists.”