Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan

Mentors at A&D

From the outside looking in, college can seem like an overwhelmingly eclectic academic environment. Unlike the contained atmosphere of high school, the university setting offers an overwhelming number of departments, courses, and faculty to choose from. In blunt terms, everyone doesn't know everyone else in college. Is it possible to find mentors in such a fast paced environment?

Student/faculty interactions at A&D seem to hit the nail right on the head as far as balancing this terrain. For starters, the diversity of the faculty available is fantastic. Specific instructors inevitably stand out in accordance with student interests. An individual is then challenged to consider how to maintain that guidance. Some students might enroll in their favorite instructors courses multiple times. Others might keep in touch outside of class critiques. Hopefully, a detailed narration of my own experiences with mentors can offer an example of what these relationships can provide.

One standout mentor for me while at A&D was painting instructor Jim Cogswell. My first interaction ...

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From Bambi to Communism and Back Again: Living on North and in the Co-ops

Image by churl, on Flickr

Ask most people on campus and they will tell you North Campus sucks and there is no point in living there. But we aren't most people, we are art students. For the art student, living on North Campus can offer some great advantages, especially if you know the following things.

First, you can get more space. I started my first year in a single in Baits. Though it has the disadvantage of being less social overall (this is a generalization, my hall happened to be very social; think 3 parties a week and doors always open) and a tad far away, it has the most extensive bus coverage in terms of hours and frequency and you only share a bathroom with one other room. As one who feels public restrooms and showers are the creation of Lucifer himself and part of a plot to make our lives more awkward, this is a big plus. Add in the good amount of space for making and storing art (that first year you'll be making a lot of art), plus a better chance of getting a single, and Baits becomes a good option for the nocturnal, constantly working art ...

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Have too many interests? Internships!!!

Much of my first day interning at this popular American fashion company was spent sorting buttons of black, brown, grey, and blue. “Am I really going to spend three months doing this?” I thought. Where was the glamor? Where were the models? Where were the designers and visionaries?

On the second day I attended the Intern Orientation. As usual, I was twenty minutes early and the first to arrive. I looked around, watching as the room slowly filled up with the other 150 interns. The first few girls to trickle in after me confirmed every prediction of what I had thought an intern at this company would be like—tall, skinny, and dressed in high style head to toe. I was intimidated to say the least. Once everyone arrived we went around introducing ourselves, saying where we were from and the department we were interning in. I was surprised to realize that the interns were actually a diverse group of students from so many different places and backgrounds. Later, I learned that this was reflective of the diversity that makes this fashion company the community that it is. I ...

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Painting and Drawing in a Digital Age

What does it mean to use traditional 2-D media in a digital age? Why work by hand when computers are capable of so much? Imagine, trying to understand these questions when just starting out your college career in art and design. The purpose of this post is to contextualize drawing, painting, and printmaking at A&D from the perspective of a recent graduate. It is the firm belief of this author that we are living in a fascinating time. A time when digital media is colliding with thousands of years of tradition in a global culture moving at a frightening pace. With these thoughts in mind, it is crucial as a new student to start to see your work within the context of this changing reality.

Let's start by listing some common art school stereotypes. Painting from still life, drawing nude models, exhibiting in hip little white galleries, etc. Sound familiar? For a time, some of those generalizations were more or less accurate. A student in the fine arts not too long ago could expect hours and hours with pen, pencil, paint, and press. While gaining technical ground, a ...

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Exhibit Your Work!

One resource at A&D that I make consistent use of is the Career Opportunities page on the A&D website.  Even if you fail to regularly check this site on your own, John Luther, our career services coordinator, sends daily e-mails to the A&D community listing new opportunities that were added to the site.  These can range from exhibitions to internships to commissions.  By making use of this site, and following through with opportunities that I'm interested in, I've been able to have my artwork displayed in galleries outside of the Art School, as well as participate in more exhibitions within the A&D community.  

Obviously, this is a very important practice for an aspiring artist: it is vital that you get your work out into the public eye.  It's always fantastic to see my art in a gallery setting, and to receive feedback from people other than my friends, peers, and professors.  There are always new and interesting people to meet at gallery openings.  I have a strong belief that you need to be able to successfully interact with other artists in order to better your ...

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The End Already?

As some of my friends back at Michigan concluded their senior year with an Obama commencement speech, I concluded my time abroad in Rome with a final trip to the Trevi fountain. Some fifteen hours later, I arrived home as reality and America set in quickly. I was happy to escape Italian food and bite into my deli sandwich, but I wasn’t all too happy to be home. The end of abroad is bittersweet, as endings always seem to be. I just can’t believe it was only a few days ago that I was wandering the streets of Italy.

Since I landed back in the USA, I’ve purchased my first legal alcoholic beverage and reconnected with several friends and relatives. All of whom have asked me similar questions: “Did you have a good time?” Definitely. “Was it worth it?” Absolutely. “Did you learn a lot?” Of course. “Would you do it again?” In a second.
Apart from these simple questions and answers, I’ve found it difficult to actually put my experience into words. Amazing, incredible, amazingly incredible…no description does this part of my life justice. It’s kind-of a ‘you had to be ...
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Bit By the Theatre Bug

So far, I've talked about picking a school, the Interarts program, and the Penny W. Stamps Lectures.  Or alternatively put: I've talked about crayon fights, faking orgasms and free food (read my previous posts if you want all that to make any sense). As the token Interarts student I feel a certain duty to briefly tell you about getting involved in theatre on campus, otherwise known as mooing in the band. After that I'll add some final words as we have a warm fuzzy goodbye moment.

Though the Interarts program specifically allows one to study performance art, anyone can get involved in plays around campus. There are at least four major student-run theatre organizations that are open to, and almost all run by, non-majors. They are: the Rude Mechanicals troupe, Musket musical theatre, the RC Players and Basement Arts. The Rude Mechanicals and RC Players put on shows from King Lear to Alice in Wonderland. Musket does large scale musical theatre productions, such as their recent major successful production of Hair (who doesn't like some nudity along with their rock 'n ...

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The Butter Show: My Final A&D Exhibition

So I just graduated from the University of Michigan School of Art & Design. The ceremony wasn’t all too bad you know? I got to stand on the field at Michigan Stadium, watch President Obama fly in on a helicopter, give a speech, and fly right back out. That happens everyday right? While I will never forget that speech from the President, it was my last A&D exhibition that will be remembered as my most cherished college accomplishment. 

The final show I participated in at A&D was the Butter show. This display of work featured 10 senior thesis projects organized cohesively at an off-site exhibition space in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Just to provide some structural context, the senior thesis projects are composed over the duration of the final year at A&D. It is the culmination of your educational journey. When a project is completed in the final semester, it will be submitted to the A&D gallery spaces, and then displayed with over one hundred projects in one giant artistic extravaganza.
So what does it mean to show “off-site”? This means that as 10 students, we ...
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Five Things: Advice for Freshmen

So, you're ready to start your educational journey at A&D. Where are you going to live? What classes are you going to take? How many credits per semester? These questions can pile up quickly when getting your foot in the door at college. As a soon to be graduating senior, I would like to offer five tips that might make this transition easier.

One: This is your curriculum.

As you may have noticed, there are a few aspects of the A&D curriculum that seem non-traditional. The first two years are highly structured by core courses ADP, CFC, and TMP which focus on process rather than a specific medium. Freshmen occasionally find this to be confining. Many students simply want to pick up where they left off in high school. I would strongly encourage you to truly embrace experimentation in your foundational years. Try something you think you would be terrible at. You might be surprised how it helps you understand what you are good at. Think about what you are passionate about as you make these explorations. Know that when those two years end, everything is fair game. The ...

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Penny W. Stamps Lecture Series

The Penny W. Stamps Lectures -- some students may be tempted to think of them as a convenient time for a long nap in a dark theatre. They are missing out. By that I don't mean that you might wake up from that nap to find there is a video of a woman, naked under a clear trench-coat filled with money, dancing around a live cow to Mozart arias. (This actually happened to a friend a mine at a Penny Stamps Lecture. Suffice it to say that despite the humor of her reaction, this isn't something you want to have happen to you.) Instead I mean you are missing out on one of the things that makes Michigan A&D special.

For those of you who don't know what the Penny Stamps Speaker Series is, it's a once a week lecture all art and design students are require to go to. Each week a new presenter is brought in to give a talk at the Michigan Theater. They can be designers, artists, filmmakers, philosophers, writers, thinkers, magicians, puppeteers, dancers, scientists, comedians, faculty members, etc.

What does this mean for you? You won't like every lecture, but you'll love some ...

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