Emily's St. Olaf Experience:
My post-St. Olaf experiences were definitely shaped by my time on The Hill, from my desire to give back to the community to my drive to pursue my dream career. The nurturing environment that St. Olaf provided gave me the encouragement and education I needed to pursue an advanced degree and land a job at one of the premier art museums in the country.
Paul's St. Olaf Experience:
As I look back at my St Olaf career, the two most important things that it provided was: 1. a safe and stimulating place to grow up and 2. a learning culture focussed on global issues. This instilled in me a great desire to travel as I left school and now, as I wallow in a heavy dose of mid-life crisis, bubbles up as a desire to redirect my efforts to those in need. St Olaf was a crucial step to instill in me a sense of responsibility for myself and others. One can't ask for more.
St. Olaf Experience:
It was at St. Olaf that I discovered ceramics. I was glad that the curriculum requirements pushed me into a variety of studio areas, and ultimately led me to the beginning ceramics course. My professor, Ron Gallas, was an extremely supportive and encouraging teacher, and it was through him that I became passionate about working with clay. I also participated in the Fifth Year Art Apprenticeship which allowed me valuable uninterrupted time to further build my skills and portfolio. It also taught me to be a self sufficient, independent artist. The month-long art interim course in Manhattan was also memorable and eye-opening. I saw a lot of great art, spoke with a lot of great artists, and heard a lot of great jack-hammering every morning outside my YMCA hotel window in midtown. "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto."
Beth's St. Olaf Experience: The small class sizes at St. Olaf enabled us to get the attention we needed. The faculty were engaged, well informed, and interested in the students. My times studying in England had the biggest impact on my life. I ended up returning (I lived in London for 8 years), and the culture at St. Olaf encouraged an expansive global perspective in all disciplines.
Melissa's St. Olaf Experience:
Landscape architecture is the perfect liberal arts profession - it is a little bit of everything including art, geography, engineering, horticulture, biology, psychology, sociology with a healthy dose of problem solving and creativity thrown in. Site planning, land use planning, schematic design, construction documents, environmental assessments are all part of the profession and you can focus on a variety of different interests within the field from grading and drainage, to site design, to bioremediation, to habitat restoration, to siting structures to minimize their environmental impact while maximizing their passive or active use of environmental conditions for heating and cooling, plant design, etc. It is an incredibly varied field and St. Olaf gave me the skills and ability to thing holistically and systemically, to think outside the box, to address form and function while including beauty. I am fortunate to be able to apply liberal arts daily in what I do for a living. I also think having St. Olaf on my transcript helped with my graduate school application (I went to the University of California, Berkeley) as it is viewed as a strong undergraduate college. As a landscape architect I am able to create art in three dimensional spaces that people get to use and enjoy and I thank St. Olaf's art department for encouraging me to pursue art in my daily life.
Tom's St. Olaf Experience:
The St. Olaf Art Department created an environment that made you think about what really counts when you become a professional artist: composition, color, creativity anddDesign. I went on to get an M.F.A. in animation at U.C.L.A. and remember countless times falling back on knowledge I gained at St. Olaf. I also owe it to Arch Leean's animation course that sparked a desire to continue in that direction. Today, I enjoy everyday of my professional career and it all started at St. Olaf.
St. Olaf Experience:
I majored in Fine Art and French at St. Olaf and graduated in '94. My first job out of college was writing the curriculum and teaching Art to grades 1-11 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. After returning home, I was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC (where I visited during the New York January Art Interim) and graduated with a B.F.A. in Toy Design in '98. Since then, I have specialized as a doll, preschool and girls' toy designer and now work as a freelance toy design consultant. Although I have had the pleasure of creating for lines such as Betty Spaghetty, Miss Party Surprise, Kinder-Garden Babies, Winnie the Pooh, Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer, my most exciting and rewarding project by far has been the publication of my first children's book, Princess Crafts, which came out last April. Pollyanna as it may sound, my philosophy is, "Make every day sparkle!" and it was my Junior and Senior Art Shows at Olaf, where I studied the art of play and dress-up, that led to my career in both toys and children's book making. What I loved most about the process of putting together these shows was the freedom to experiment and the thought provoking critiques with my professors and peers. The additional perk of studying Fine Art in a liberal arts setting also inspired me to become a much more well rounded thinker and problem solver which is crucial in both of my fields.
St. Olaf Experience:
I first discovered animation when I took the Motion Graphics class my junior year at St. Olaf. Animation is a unique art form that brings together elements from theater, dance, music, visual art, writing and filmmaking: all strong influences in the St. Olaf culture. My St. Olaf connections and the portfolio I created in the Art Department lead me to my first traditional animation job in Minneapolis upon graduation. Eventually my love of animation drew me to Hollywood. On the advice of 2 St. Olaf alumni I applied for, and was accepted into, the M.F.A. Animation Program at U.C.L.A. My education at St. Olaf helped me thrive at U.C.L.A. The ability to self critique, developed at St. Olaf, became extremely valuable as I went though the process of making independent short films. I finished the course work for the M.F.A. program and began working on games at Electronic Arts Los Angeles. I then went on to animate on feature films at Rhythm and Hues Studios. In February, 2005 I am travelling to New Zealand to animate on Peter Jackson's latest film, King Kong. The lessons I learned in college and the friendships of St. Olaf professors have provided me guidance and support in my developing career as an animator.
Chris' St. Olaf Experience:
I knew I wanted to be an architect upon arriving at St. Olaf, but I was interested in art as well. The Art Department provides an extremely soild design education; the beauty of St. Olaf is that the faculty are very accessible to students. To know the faculty personally and to be able to bounce ideas off them is unique. I use the foundations of drawing, color, design, and architectural history in all that I do now. I wouldn‚t have had the opportunity to fully develop these skills if I had gone straight to architecture school.
Opies's St. Olaf Experience:
I can honestly say that my education at St. Olaf College was a turning point in my life. If you were given the gift to be able to draw-what-you-see as a child, you were also bestowed the curse of never being told that you could really use improvement. My professors and the art department environment at St. Olaf allowed me to learn that if you want to be an artist, it takes dedication and passion. I was dragged kicking and screaming to embrace the very gift I had begun to take for granted. A true artist must find their own path to expression - this program does not choose the path for you, but it will help you find your compass.
Steve's St. Olaf Experience:
I've been a full-time artist (mostly sculpture) for the past 8 years (primarily public art and architectural commissions). The art department taught me many of the techniques, as well as visual concepts which I used throughout grad school, and now in my professional career. Also, as it turns out, much of the public artwork I do is intended to relate to a specific neighborhood or community. Because of the diverse range of subjects which I studied at St. Olaf, I am able to draw upon biology, literature, religion, as well as a familiarity of varied cultures for the imagery in my sculptures. The Calculus, however - not so useful.
David's St. Olaf Experience
Today I write and illustrate children’s books, as well as speak as a visiting artist at elementary schools throughout the midwest. Attending St. Olaf allowed me to pursue more than just my interest in art. I was able to major both in art and English, participate on the school’s forensics team, work with the literary arts magazine, and volunteer at the local grade school. Had I attended a typical art school, I would have had far fewer opportunities to develop the wide range of skills that I use every day in my career.
Michael's St. Olaf Experience:
My St. Olaf education positively influenced my current position through a high quality and highly creative Art Department as well as the broad foundation of a liberal arts education St. Olaf offered. My advisor, professor and friend Wendell Arneson, was a mentor and an extremely positive and supportive influence on my artistic career. Other valuable experiences were several off campus opportunities. An interim of artistic career explorations in New York City. A semester and interim at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Global Semester abroad.
Katherine's St. Olaf Experience:
The art courses that I took at St. Olaf and the relationships that I developed with professors provided me with a solid foundation as an art educator. I was able to learn from incredible artists and watch as they modeled how to interact with studios full of students. All of the art classes encouraged individuals to reflect on both the techniques and concepts behind their artwork. In many ways, I try to encourage the same kind of reflection in my classroom so the students can have a more meaningful art experience. I feel very fortunate to teach in Northfield because I have had the opportunity to invite guest speakers from St. Olaf to talk with my students, as well as bring my students onto campus to tour the art galleries.
Wards's St. Olaf Experience:
My St. Olaf education gave me an incredible launching pad into my career. It taught me that I can try and do anything and that's what I've done as my career continues to evolve. I went on the NYC Interim and 8 years later I moved to NYC. Now I am one of the artists that students visit each year. The first year I was here I re-read my final paper from that Interim and realized I was doing exactly what I hoped to do back then. In addition to the excellent professors and classes, St. Olaf also offers so many opportunities for anyone interested in going after them. Have a show of your work in the Library! Create illustrations or cartoons for the Messenger! Use the facilities to work on a computer or photo project! It only gets harder in the real world so use your creative mind on the hill to find interesting ways to use your creativity. Create opportunities for yourself. The best way to take advantage of St. Olaf is to not take anything for granted. Of course, the other great thing about my St. Olaf education is that it was well-rounded and taught me how to not only be a good artist but a good citizen with a conscience about the world around us. This is a big difference that I've noticed from those who went to an art school here on the East Coast.
Tyler's's St. Olaf Experience:
More than anything St. Olaf fostered my love of learning - I was able to take a wide variety of classes that filled the desire to just learn about as many different things as I could. And I think that spirit of learning drives you to seek out new things and also teaches you critical thinking. Having a true liberal arts education also reinforced a holistic view of looking at the world. That comes into play in the work I do at MCAD, where I try to stress to my student staff and the students in general to look at issues from all angles. Because the students I work with are primarily designers they are being well prepared to go out into the world with great creative skills, but I find that a lot of designers, and computer users in general, don't have the technical knowledge that can really help in trouble shooting problems, or in avoiding those problems to begin with, or in understanding why something is the way that it is. The more knowledge you have at your disposal, the better you are able to problem solve, and
technical know-how can sometimes even inform or assist creative problem solving.
In terms of my comics career, St. Olaf definitely helped me along that path. When I was a freshman I wasn't totally sold on a career as an artist - my first year on the hill showed me how much I loved art and how dedicated I was to my art classes. Advice and encouragement from faculty and fellow students furthered my determination and resolve to do what I was supposed to do with my artistic abilities. It also really helped to have the faculty as an example - to see how it was possible to make a living and career as an artist - something that seemed kind of abstract before college. I also have to say that going to New York was a big influence on me as well - I did the New York Art Interim my sophomore year and it just really opened my eyes to the art world and all of the different ways you can make a living with art. It truly helped to meet artists and people in the art field to hear how they got to where they were, and see the in's and out's of the art world. More than anything though, I think it was the sense of community that St. Olaf, and the art department in particular,helped foster - I felt very much at home there, and because of that, I felt free to explore and push myself with my artwork. It was an invaluable experience that I treasure very dearly.
Timothy's St. Olaf Experience:
My St. Olaf education remains a crucial element of who I am and what I do. I continually draw on the broad liberal arts background for my professional work as well as my personal interests. I was fortunate to participate in the several Off-campus study programs while at St. Olaf. Through the New York Interim course (a fantastic opportunity and program) I was enabled a incredible experience of art, professional artists, and having my eyes opened to the all the possibilities available in the visual arts. I also studied abroad for a semester in Paderborn, Germany. These experiences opened doors for further studies and grants including a Fulbright scholarship to Germany and an American-Scandinavian fellowship to Sweden. I am truly grateful to St. Olaf College and the excellent quality that the St Olaf experience espouses.
Timothy's St. Olaf Experience:
One of my professors in graduate school said, "A landscape architect needs to know a little bit about a lot of things." Such is the nature of the profession; it is a field in which art, ecology, horticulture, engineering, architecture, sociology, and planning (to name but a few) all intersect in various ways. At any given time I can be working on graphic design for a presentation, building a physical or digital model to understand site characteristics, sketching-out concepts on paper (both for details and grand site gestures), drafting, or collaborating with stone/metal/wood/polymer fabricators to build unique elements for projects. Where would I be without my art major?
Anna's St. Olaf Experience:
The passion the professors in the art department had for their subjects inspired me to pursue further study in this discipline. I remember the day I first sat in on Katy Smith Abbott's "Medieval Art class˜I was hooked! I had been shopping for classes to take that semester and her lecture decided not only my course schedule for that term, but my decision to major in art history. Whether it was Medieval, Renaissance, Modern or American Art, I truly enjoyed my art history classes. My St. Olaf art history major provided me with an excellent background for further study. The studio component of my art history major has been invaluable as well. At St. Olaf, I took both a drawing and design course and a photography class. The experience of taking, developing, and printing my own photographs has helped me understand some of the complexity nineteenth-century photographers faced when crafting their images.
I also appreciated the fact that the professors in the St. Olaf art department were genuinely interested in their students. Their willingness to meet with me to discuss questions about how to research or organize a paper, or to help me answer questions about life after St. Olaf, made a powerful impact. As a teaching assistant now˜and perhaps as a professor later˜I hope to show that same interest in my students, that same passion for my subject.
Graduate students often speak of the dissertation-writing process as the point where you are finally “set free” to do your own thing, to write the book you have been thinking about since starting grad school. I am coming to realize that my project didn’t start with my enrollment in grad school – it started the fall semester of my first-year at St. Olaf, sitting in the dark of the old art building’s auditorium, watching slide after slide of Greek statues click past. I sat there listening to the voice of first, Katy Smith-Abbott and later, Matt Rohn, outlining the course of history through art. It was a revelation to me, first that history, which I had always found so dry and disconnected to my life, could be taught in this engaging way and second, that there were people out there who love what they do and are passionate about passing their knowledge on to others.
When I was studying at St. Olaf, I didn’t fully appreciate the wide-ranging education we receive. It is a cliché, hopelessly overused, but a liberal arts education truly prepares a student to be an active, interested citizen of the world. I find myself constantly drawing from my literature, history, and gender studies classes from Olaf to help me to understand and process the issues that arise in my research. My studio degree also sets me apart from my colleagues, many of who have no undergraduate studio experience. They often struggle with understanding the process of art making, how an artist prepares a canvas for paint, what makes a platinum print different from a silver gelatin photograph. The interconnected nature of the St. Olaf art department is unique to our institution and has truly made a difference in my graduate studies.