Although few of the sixteen Hillsdale College art majors graduating this year plan on investing their futures solely in traditional art, most plan on keeping art as a part of their lives for personal enjoyment or to aid the pursuit of different careers.
Among those continuing their art education, seniors Nell O’Leary and Emma Curtis are attending traditional art schools in the fall.
O’Leary was recently accepted into Studio Incamminati, a four-year intensive atelier program in Philadelphia. Only twelve students are accepted into the program each year.
“The schooling is more intense than a grad school, but I don’t receive a master’s degree. It’s strictly four years of painting,” O’Leary said. “The exclusivity is to allow for the very intense mentor-mentee relationship that the program offers.”
In the future, O’Leary hopes to stick to traditional art, but, unlike some of her fellow art majors, she does not share the same enthusiasm about a possible career in teaching art.
“It’s especially hard to teach in the arts because you have to see what the students see through their eyes. To them, they are trying to understand basically what art is. They have to challenge what they see versus what they know,” O’Leary said. “I would really just love to become a professional artist.”
Curtis, like O’Leary, plans on attending an atelier program but at Georgetown Atelier, a small traditional art school located in Seattle.
“It’s a really small school, so it’s a little exclusive. There aren’t many schools like it in the country,” Curtis said. “It focuses on very traditional technique, which is a really good basis for anything I want to go into afterwards.”
Curtis hopes to teach as a source of income after attending Georgetown.
“I’d like to teach art at the high school level, but I’m not entirely sure. I know that I would love to have my own studio and do commission works,” Curtis said.
Other art major seniors are taking a practical approach to continuing their love of traditional art rather than an academic one. Senior Natalie Knudsen will continue to refine her sculpture skills by hopefully working with Associate Professor of Art Anthony Frudakis as an assistant or student at his studio in Saline, Mich. Last summer, Knudsen interned with Frudakis, and worked on the Liberty Walk’s Ronald Reagan statue together.
“I worked on the little details like the buttons and the shoelaces of the Reagan statue,” Knudsen said. “It was a great experience. I feel honored and privileged to have gotten to work with him because he is an amazing sculptor and an even better human being.”
In addition to interning, Knudsen hopes to continue with her art business.
“I have an art business on campus, and I have my own website,” Knudsen said. “On campus it’s mainly airbrushing and wood burning. I do a lot of wood burning for fraternity and sorority crests for initiation. For airbrushing, I did a cape for the pep band leader, and I airbrush at fundraisers.”
Knudsen’s passion, however, is teaching.
“I would love to be an art teacher at some point because of Professor [Associate Professor of Art] [Barbara] Bushey. She is just really awesome.”
Knudsen recently had an interview with Hillsdale Academy pertaining to an art teacher position for ages K‑12 and hopes to start in the fall as an art teacher for them.
There are also art majors who have decided to pursue careers outside of art, but they intend on keeping art as a way of relaxing. Senior Anna Wiley, a double major of chemistry and art, will be going into the field of chemistry after graduating.
“Currently, chemistry is something I’m excited about. I would love to work in the natural products industry in research and development or quality control,” Wiley said. “I guess long term I’m looking towards transitioning to a career in art. While doing research, you have a million problems, which can be really stressful, and art is a great way to relax.”
Wiley believes her education in art will help her in the field of chemistry: “Art heightens your ability to pay attention to details, which is an essential skill in chemistry.”
Whether they have the passion for becoming a professional artist, teaching art, or even for a different career path, the art majors are determined to use their creative talents in their everyday lives.
“I owe everything that I have accomplished to my Hillsdale career,” O’Leary said. “My time here has definitely nurtured my fondness for the arts.”