Ten Hamilton senior art majors, led by Professors Rebecca Murtaugh and Robert Knight, traveled to New York City from Nov. 3-5 to visit the studios and see the work of five established artists and hear their insight.

The seniors – Maraina Adams, Carol Chao, Merisa Dion, Max Freedman, Julie Lin, Irene Lin, Araseli Mendez, Minh Nguyen, Ellison Sherrill and Katherine Wang – are concentrating in a wide range of mediums including painting, photography, sculpture and mixed media.  This trip provided the opportunity to gain firsthand exposure to studio practice and artist networks after graduation.

The artists on the tour included Betty Tompkins, Meryl Meisler, Erin Shirreff, Glenn Goldberg and Jim Osman, all of whom provided valuable advice for the students at a critical time in developing their senior projects, which will be exhibited in the Wellin Museum in May 2017.

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Art majors explore the significance and meaning art holds in their own lives and examine the ways in which works of art express and communicate ideas to others. Students are part of an environment that offers a world of ideas to challenge them intellectually and inform their work.

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By allowing students to see works in progress, discussing their artistic process, and addressing the challenges they face, the artists left the students feeling both inspired and encouraged. 

Professor Knight remarked, “This year’s studio tour enabled our seniors to visit artists where they make their work, to learn how they have navigated their careers and to ask them deep questions, all of which will flow back into the students’ own creative practice in weeks and months ahead.”

While each artist offered unique insight into their artistic practice and experiences as a professional artist, many relayed a similar message: find your artist community. The artists stressed the importance of surrounding oneself with positive-minded people who have others’ best interests at heart and who are supportive, not competitive. This serves as a way to motivate one another to constantly produce work, provide feedback, and foster a constructive community in the real world, similar to what students can experience while in college.

This advice was immediately applicable when the students attended a private reception for Hamilton alumni at the PPOW Gallery in Chelsea, which exhibited Professor Katharine Kuharic’s ongoing project, “What Women Lost.” The visit enabled students to network with Hamilton alumni, many of whom are actively involved in the art community.

The experience demonstrated that despite many challenges and obstacles the students may face in the coming year, above all, art is a passion-driven work. Whether it was hearing Meryl Meisler explain her drive as an artist as “pure gut passion, what makes her smile, what makes her laugh,” Glenn Goldberg depict his art as “beautifully searching while he’s lost,” or Betty Tompkins describe the process of making her large-scale, explicit paintings as simply “pure joy,” the visits were instrumental in reassuring the students about their own work.

The artists reiterated that the work the students are doing now is impactful and meaningful to their future careers.  As Erin Shirreff advised, “identify what compels you, and give yourself permission to go down that road. You make your work, and your work makes you.”

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