Category Archives: Curriculum and Degrees

SVA Launches New Drawing and Illustration Curriculum in Fall 2015

Oil pastel on paper, work by Professor of Drawing and Illustration, Jim Park.

Oil pastel on paper, work by Professor of Drawing and Illustration, Jim Park.

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Chalk pastel on paper, work by Professor of Drawing and Illustration, Sherry Lee Short.

The School of Visual Arts is proud to announce its new Emphasis in Drawing and Illustration.  The new emphasis launches in the fall of 2015 and involves a coordinated set of courses designed to meet the needs of graduates entering the multi-faceted fields of contemporary drawing and illustration. The new emphasis will replace two current emphases, the Emphasis in Drawing and Emphasis in Illustration.

Two courses currently on the books will continued to be offered.  These are Introduction to Illustration and Digital Illustration.  All other courses are new, including several courses each designed to immerse students in the methods, concepts, and materials of a key drawing and/or illustration area.  The new courses are:

  • Introduction to Drawing Concepts and Methodologies
  • Sequential Art
  • Perceptual Art
  • Contemporary Drawing Concepts and Methodologies
  • Figure Drawing and Painting
  • Portfolio Development
Detail of work by Assistant Professor of Printmaking, Patrick Vincent, who will be teaching Sequential Art in the new curriculum.

Detail of work by Assistant Professor of Printmaking, Patrick Vincent, who will be teaching Sequential Art in the new curriculum.

In addition, students are required to take all the core requirements that are required of all students seeking a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in the School of Visual Arts.  These include 2D and 3D introductory courses, Basic Drawing, Foundation Design, art history courses, and Professional Practices.

Sketch by Trygve Olson, Instructor of Digital Illustration.

Sketch by Trygve Olson, Instructor of Digital Illustration.

The new drawing and illustration curriculum will be taught by a diverse faculty representing a range of drawing and illustration styles in their own professional work, including both traditional and digital media.

For more information on this exciting new curriculum, contact Sherry Lee Short, shorts@mnstate.edu.

Oil on metal, work by Professor of Painting, Zhimin Guan, who will be teaching Figure Drawing and Painting in the new Emphasis in Drawing and Illustration.

Oil on metal, work by Professor of Painting, Zhimin Guan, who will be teaching Figure Drawing and Painting in the new Emphasis in Drawing and Illustration.

Portfolio Reviews Contribute to Rigor of SVA Degrees

Marissa Vanvleet (right) discussing her work with professors Chris Walla and Kelli Sinner during her Junior Portfolio Review, Fall 2014. Vanvleet is pursuing a BFA in Art Education.

Marissa Vanvleet (right) discussing her work with professors Chris Walla and Kelli Sinner during her Junior Portfolio Review, Fall 2014. Vanvleet is pursuing a BFA in Art Education.

All students pursuing a BFA in Studio Art or a BFA in Art Education are required to complete two portfolio reviews.  Typically, the first review takes place at the end of the freshmen year, and the second review takes place during the junior year.  This schedule may vary for transfers from other colleges and universities or students switching to studio art from other majors at MSUM.

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Pictured is Jesse Suppa (left), BFA candidate with an emphasis in Sculpture, during his review with professors Jim Park (far right) and Carl Oltvedt.  Fall 2014.

During their first review, students display portfolios of all the assigned work they have completed in their freshman art courses, including Basic Drawing I and II and Foundation Design.  For the second review, students’ portfolios are a combination of work completed in introductory and intermediate studio courses, including those in their declared area of emphasis.  Each student presents her or his body of work to a panel of three professors in the School of Visual Arts.

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Professor Chris Walla discussing a sketch with Marissa Vanvleet during her review.

The purpose of the reviews is to assess a student’s overall portfolio development and readiness for the next level of art studies.  The review committee provides both oral and written feedback.  Also important, the reviews assist each student in thinking about her or his body of work as a whole, rather than as individual class  assignments.  Reflecting on her recent review, Marissa Vanvleet, who is pursuing a BFA in Art Education, comments, “It’s easy for me to get lost in making things and never take a step back to look at what I’m trying to say or accomplish.  Portfolio reviews are often intimidating but they force me to gather my thoughts and try to understand my process, my work, and my voice.”

Olivia Bain, who is pursuing double emphases in Ceramics and Sculpture, presenting her work to professors Anna Arnar, Megan Duda, and Patrick Vincent. Fall 2014.

Olivia Bain, who is pursuing double emphases in Ceramics and Sculpture, presenting her work to professors Anna Arnar, Megan Duda, and Patrick Vincent. Fall 2014.

School of Visual Arts Offers Distinctive Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program

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Catie Miller, works on exhibit, MSUM Roland Dille Center for the Arts, 2012.

The School of Visual Arts offers a unique portfolio development opportunity for students who have completed a BA or BFA from a studio art program. The Certificate in Studio Research is an intensive, one-year program of study designed to prepare students for professional work in the art world.  Students exiting the program have a cohesive body of work, which prepares them for myriad professional opportunities, including applying for graduate school, residencies, or grants; developing a strong web presence for freelance work; approaching galleries for exhibition opportunities; and more.

Some of the exciting success stories of previous students who completed extended study in the School of Visual Arts include Elise Parsley, Catie Miller, and Kaylyn Gerenz.  Elise Parsley graduated in 2011 with a portfolio in illustration; she has already secured a book contract with a major publisher (see story here).  Catie Miller, ceramics, graduated in 2013, and is currently working as an artist-in-residence at Red Star Studios (story); Kaylyn Gerenz completed study in sculpture in 2011, received a Career Development Grant in 2012, and is currently working as the Programming Associate and Registrar at the Rourke Museum in Moorhead, Minnesota (story).

To apply for the Certificate in Studio Research, applicants must have an overall undergraduate GPA of 2.75. and 3.0 in art.  Applicants must also present a portfolio of works and complete a written proposal.

For more information or to request application forms, contact Sherry Lee Short at shortsh@mnstate.edu.

Deadline for the 2014-2015 year is April 1, 2014.

2011 Illustration Grad Gets Book Deal from Major Publisher

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Elise Parsley
(photo credit: Than Baardson)

Last November, Elise Parsley, a 2011 graduate from the School of Visual Arts, made a query to a literary agent.  He was impressed with her work and, within a day, he signed her up and sent out her work to a number of publishers.  By the end of the week, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers made her a contract offer, which she accepted.  Her book If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t! will be published in 2015.

It was not only Parsley’s exceptional illustration and writing skills that impressed her agent.  “I was very impressed by how professionally Elise presented herself,”  he commented. “When I talked to her on the phone, she was so sweet and gracious, and it was clear that she already knows that she wants to make picture books for the rest of her life.  I knew on the spot that I wanted to represent her.”  The editor at Brown Books was impressed with the sophistication of her work:  “I assumed the book was created by someone who has studied and illustrated picture books for years,” she said. “It was the perfect formula of hilarity, heart, and expressive art. ”

ParsleyMagnoliaWhen Parsley enrolled in the art program at Minnesota State University she knew that she was interested in illustrating children’s books, but she was not certain she had the ability.  “I knew I wanted to give it a good try, but first I had to see if I was any good at drawing,” says Parsley.  “I really mean it when I say I didn’t know how to draw when I came to MSUM. I started from scratch.”  Reflecting on her professors’ contribution to her artistic development, she respectfully comments, “They really went out of their way to push me in terms of sequential and narrative work, and creating art that would speak to children. I owe a great deal to them.”

“Elise was an exceptional student,” says drawing professor Sherry Lee Short. “She was eager to learn, inquisitive, and always responsive to her professors’ critique.  I first had Elise as a student as a sophomore in life drawing classes.  Her ability to grow from project to project was exciting to see.  She had that perfect combination of innate talent and dedication to her work.”

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“I always try to draw an image that makes me laugh, and then build a story around it. This time, I drew Magnolia in her classroom, with her teacher standing over her with a scowl on her face and a paper airplane in her hair. The alligator Magnolia brought to school is tattling on her, saying that Magnolia did it. From there, I figured that I’d better have a reason for this alligator being in the classroom in the first place, and I wrote the whole story.
Elise Parsley

Parsley concurs that learning to critique and think about one’s work was a key element in her growth as an artist. “The ability to thoughtfully critique was one of the best things I gained from my years at MSUM.  I learned to collaborate with others, ask questions and offer prompts to spur my fellow writers/artists along,” says Parsley.  Indeed, she continues to actively seek out critical feedback on her work.  “The give-and-take that a critique group offers, not to mention the community aspect, is crucial to my work now.  I thrive on feedback and revision, and meet with other kidlit creators multiple times each month to critique our work.  Now I also have the opportunity to receive feedback from my editor and art director at Little, Brown, so I’m in constant dialogue about both my writing and illustrations.”  She adds humorously, “If I hadn’t learned how to critique, I know I’d take everything too personally and probably cry a lot.  And no one wants to see that.”

Parsley also prepared for her career in illustration by achieving a minor in creative writing.  Before she graduated, she also created her website, business cards, letterhead, and other promotional materials in the Professional Practices course.

In addition to her upcoming book, Parsley also has illustrative work coming out in the March/April issue of theSociety of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators Bulletin.  She also teaches piano.  Parsley’s commitment to children, community, and creativity is evident in all that she does.  Says Parsley, “Currently I’m an author/illustrator by day, and a circuit-riding piano teacher by night. I don’t plan to continue teaching forever, but right now it’s a fun, flexible job that allows me to spend time with children.”

But children’s book illustration is where her heart is:  “Picture books are a whole genre of art made especially for children and the adults that spend time with them.  It’s art that a child can own, understand, and learn from.  Children are a great audience, and I knew I wanted to create images for them.”

 

Professional Practices course prepares students for success

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Tania Blanich speaking to students in ART480

Tania Blanich, Director of the Rourke Art Gallery Museum, spoke this week to students in ART 480 Professional Practices about how to approach and work with galleries as an emerging artist.  She is one of a number of guest speakers who bring their expertise to this career preparation course each semester.

Professional Practices is a required course for students enrolled in the BFA with a studio emphasis.  What many BA students do not know is that they may take the course as an elective. The course covers many key areas of professional art practice–including writing resumes, press releases, and grants; creating a business card, promotional photographs, and digital images of artwork; setting up a website, LinkedIn site, and blog; taxes and bookkeeping; copyright and legal issues; and much more.  The course fills early, so early registration is recommended to secure your seat for spring–especially if you are planning to graduate in May.