Ohio Wesleyan Fine Arts Majors Invigorated After New York Experience

Semester at OWU’s New York Arts Program provides inspiration, real-world experience

Students from the Ohio Wesleyan-managed New York Arts Program enjoyed the 2010 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. From left are Kara Saulsberry ’11 (OWU), Katie Cam ’10 (Southwestern University), Anna Rigby ’11 (OWU) and Alexis Molnar ’11 (Albion College). (Photo courtesy of Anna Rigby ’11)

Although they come from different backgrounds, seniors Anna Rigby, Gretchen Ehrhart, and Anh Hoang Vu agree that their semester off-campus in Ohio Wesleyan University’s New York Arts Program provided valuable insight into the professional art world they plan to enter after graduation.

Cleveland-area native Rigby says, “New York is so different than Ohio. The working environment there was incredible. I loved going to work every day, instead of class.” She is a fine arts major concentrating in graphic design and computer imaging, and she is a sociology minor.

Rigby interned at the quarterly-produced BOMB Magazine for artists and at D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, which provides artist’s books for bookstores and libraries. “Before I spent the semester in New York, I really did not realize the amount of applications for graphic design for employment,” she says.

Vu, an international student from Vietnam, started living in New York last May after OWU classes ended. His experience working in New York lasted for six months and included summer work interning with and creating artist’s books for studio painter C. J. Collins. During fall semester, Vu interned at the collaborative architecture firm Common Room and at the studio of sculptor Diana Al Hadid. Vu is a fine arts major concentrating in sculpture and computer imaging and drawing.

“I liked working at the architectural firm because of the fast pace, deadlines, and the fact that they were so busy that I had to figure out many things on my own,” he says. Following graduation, Vu plans to intern with an architectural firm in New York and then attend graduate school to become an architect.

Vu recently was selected as a finalist in the prestigious annual Awards for Excellence in the Visual Arts from the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO). He will participate in an AICUO-sponsored event hosted at OWU on April 13. A panel discussion will be held at 5 p.m. in Room 312 in the R.W. Corns Building, followed by a reception and awards ceremony at 6 p.m. in the Richard M. Ross Art Museum. Vu’s series of three artist’s books titled “Organics” will be on exhibit at the reception.

Ehrhart, a senior from Hermitage, Pennsylvania, says her real-world experience working with studio painter Kysa Johnson and for Free Arts NYC, a nonprofit mentoring and arts organization for underprivileged children, provided a tremendous amount of training for her. She is a fine arts major concentrating in studio art and a sociology minor. After graduation, Ehrhart plans to work for a nonprofit arts-related organization in Chicago, and eventually start her own arts-related nonprofit organization.

“Since my semester with the New York Arts Program, I’m a more confident student and a stronger artist,” she says. “And I realized that I have lots of time to try different things professionally.”

Since Vu was in New York for an extended amount of time, he did not live in the Ohio Wesleyan-owned brownstone in the Chelsea District, but in Brooklyn. Ehrhart and Rigby lived in the New York Arts housing, along with several other students participating in the program. Students from other colleges and those with other academic majors also may participate in the New York Arts Program.

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