College studio art majors prepare to greet careers beyond college

Volunteer Dave Gross takes a measurement as he helps to hang Josilyn Nourse’s fishing series for the Mesa State College senior art show that opens Mar. 19 at the Art Center.

Mesa State College senior Lauren Ohlson taps a nail into place as she hang another segment of her monotype print “Natalie,” a giant work of art that reaches from the floor to the ceiling of the gallery at the Art Center.

Camille Silverman, left, curator of the Art Center, prepares one of several paintings by Mesa State College senior Adrian Burke for hanging for the opening of the college’s senior art show at the At Center. Helping her is Mickie Harshman, a Mesa State student.



The Studio Art Senior Show 2010, featuring the work of eight Mesa State College senior studio art majors, begins Friday, March 19, and continues through April 19 at The Art Center, 1803 N. Seventh St.

A gallery talk with the artists begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday. A two-hour opening reception begins at 7 p.m. Friday.

In addition to the studio art majors’ show, the 34th annual All-Campus Mesa State College Juried Student Art Show will run from March 26 through April 2.

This show has artwork from any Mesa State or Western Colorado Community College student who wanted to participate.

An opening reception for the all-campus show will be from 7–9 p.m. Friday, April 2.

uE06E Adrian Burke, 31, is showing large paintings inspired by Internet pictures he saw of insects.

uE06E Jessica Geddes, 34, is showing bronze, fiber and bone sculptures inspired by the life cycle.

uE06E Mickie Harshman, 48, is showing pieces of pottery.

uE06E Sarah Kaspar, 27, is showing several sculptures such as her urns and a large chessboard.

uE06E Josilyn Nourse, 24, is showing paintings inspired by her love of fly fishing.

uE06E Lauren Ohlson, 22, is showing prints inspired by showing how small parts make a whole.

uE06E Kim Peterson, 25, is showing paintings inspired by the feminine figure and its shape.

uE06E Lisa Solko, 39, is showing sculptures inspired by how connected separate pieces can be by using dimensions.

The Studio Art Senior Show 2010 fulfills a requirement for graduation while giving each student the chance to publicly show work.

Some art in the show will be for sale.

Sarah Kaspar sees the parallels between chess and art. Actually, to her chess is art.

As part of her final collegiate art show, Kaspar, 27, will display sculpted chess pieces and a chess board nearly 2 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet. She plays chess quite a bit and has learned it is not a game of luck. It requires strategy, and people who play the game half-heartedly rarely win.

Art is very much the same, she said.

To be successful, artists can’t produce their work half-heartedly or risk making mediocre art because no one will want it. Artists aren’t successful by luck.

Knowing successful artists work hard and take their job seriously, Kaspar is ready to graduate from Mesa State College in May with a bachelor’s of fine arts degree in studio art. Her concentration is on pottery, and she wants to sculpt as a career, despite the fact that not all professional artists are financially successful. Kaspar hopes there is a market for her handmade sculpted urns that she plans to sell to mortuaries or on the Internet.

She already has her own Web site,, which she plans to update with information for those interested in buying her urns. Kaspar’s urns also will be on display during her senior show.

Kaspar is one of eight Mesa State seniors who will showcase their college work during the Studio Art Senior Show 2010. An opening reception for the show is at 7 p.m. Friday, March 19, at The Art Center, 1803 N. Seventh St. The show will be up through April 19.

As the students arranged and hung their work on Tuesday, the mood was one of relief that the largest show thus far in each student’s young art career was nearly here. But there also was discussion about what each student plans to do with an art degree.

Jessica Geddes, 34, and Kim Peterson, 25, have been asked multiple times about what they will do, they said. The women simply tell people they plan to be happy.

“I knew all along I should be doing art,” said Peterson of her decision to major in art instead of something seemingly more financially secure such as business. “I could (have tried to) convince myself otherwise.”

Once her baby gets older, Peterson wants to create an organization through which she could teach art techniques to women and children in developing countries.

Geddes is much like Peterson in that the uncertainty of what an art degree will bring her post-graduation could not trump the fulfillment Geddes derives from sculpting with bronze, fiber and art.

“It’s what I knew I liked,” Geddes said.

Aside from working in a studio producing art, students with a studio art degree have more options if they desire, said Deborah Snider, an assistant professor in Mesa State’s art department.

The department has a list of careers that are possible with a studio art degree that they show prospective students and current majors finalizing post-graduation plans.

Studio art is one of six majors in the art department, along with art education, graphic design (split into two majors, print and animation), art history and visual arts administration.

Mesa State requires studio art majors to complete two courses outside of hands-on art classes so they can learn more about the industry and how to be successful individuals, Snider said.

The two classes teach studio art majors about marketing promotion and art opening planning, how to write a resume, compile a portfolio and brand themselves as artists.

They are invaluable classes for aspiring artists, said senior Mickie Harshman, 48, who has been the gallery director at the Blue Pig Gallery in Palisade for a little over a year. Harshman sought her art degree to complement her business background in an effort to better run the art gallery.

“I wanted to learn about being on the other side of the desk,” said Harshman, who will show her pottery during the Senior Show and perhaps one day show her classmates’ work at the Blue Pig Gallery.

Like Harshman, Adrian Burke, 31, and Lisa Solko, 39, already have jobs and want their art degree to help them professionally.

Burke got a graphic design job with Colorado Printing about a year ago and said studying art made him a better designer.

Solko and her husband own So Cool Celebrations! The business allows Solko to combine her love of art and children by painting faces at the American Natioanl Bank Farmers Market in Grand Ju nction.

Solko used to work in a high-paying business job in managed care, but she left it to start the art-related business with her husband and earn a college degree in a field she cares about.

“If you do something and don’t love it, what’s the point?” Solko asked.


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