As an art major, you will work in a new, cutting-edge studio arts center that will be completed in July 2014. At The Wellin Museum of Art, a new and acclaimed facility, you will experience exhibits by professionals and perhaps show your own work. Faculty members will help you become an independent, critical thinker who continues to create and discuss art beyond college.

Lily Johnston ’16 helps install a piece in a show by Alyson Schotz at the Wellin
Lily Johnston ’16 helps install a piece in a show by Alyson Schotz at the Wellin

A student’s choice: the liberal arts in pursuit of art

As a rising Hamilton College sophomore, Lily Johnston ’16 spent the summer doing research on a fish parasite with a team of students and a biology professor, and the work was published in a scientific journal. The next summer she secured an internship, funded through the College, to work in New York City at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, where she promoted contemporary artists and met more than a few of them. Now, heading into her senior year, supported by a Hamilton Emerson grant, she’s doing a summer research project about color theory. With her penchant for academic exploring and pushing herself to try new things, Johnston says she’s certain she made the right choice when she picked Hamilton over an art school. She’s majoring in art and minoring in biology. “I’m really happy I go to Hamilton; I don’t think there’s a better place for me, honestly, ” Johnston says.

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She considers painting to be her strongest medium but she’s discovered a passion for sculpture and is combing both in the Emerson project. In painting, Johnston says, you decide which color goes where. “That’s something I’m comfortable with, so I like stepping out of my comfort zone in getting more into sculpture, where I have an idea and by the end of the project I’ve made something completely different out of completely different material,” she says.

Jackie Brown '04 and one of her works.

A graduate’s progress: making, studying, teaching art

Jackie Brown ’04 is a working artist who earned a master’s of fine arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts and is an assistant professor of art in sculpture at Bowdoin College. She works in drawing and sculptural installation.

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Her art major from Hamilton College, she says, helped provide the foundation for her studio practice and career. Brown minored in anthropology and took a range of courses from discrete mathematics to Islamic thought, and it all informed her work.

“That’s what is great about pursuing art within a liberal arts context. I had so much fodder from my other courses, and I could bring those interests into my creative work,” Brown says.

In 2009, she filled in at Hamilton for a professor on sabbatical. She says Hamilton faculty members clearly are invested in the program and in students, which is evident in the senior experience and visiting artists program. The art major provides a framework that allows a student to take risks and experiment, Brown says: “If you’re willing to put yourself out there, and you’re open to critical feedback, then you can really maximize the experience.”