With Talent and Perseverance in it’s forefront, Arts Program Prepares Launch
By Victoria Priola
The Bachelors in Fine Art program at CSI is currently accepting applications for the Fall semester. This will be the first semester, since it was announced in October of last year, that the program will be in full effect.
“Now the program truly begins because it’s open to the whole campus,” said Chris Verene, a professor of photography at CSI. “In the very beginning, it was only for people who completed enough credits.”
There are currently 14 students enrolled in the BFA program and around 12-15 students are in portfolio evaluation, according to Verene. The application deadline is May 2 and applicant numbers are expected to rise due to it’s high demand on campus.
The BFA program is unlike any other degree at the College. Talent and perseverance prevail over academics when it comes to the application process.
A sure-fire way to be accepted into it is to have a strong portfolio and the drive to succeed in the artistic field, according to the art department.
“We’re looking for the people who are really inspired to work in their own world,” said Verene. “Those who do way more than homework.”
In order to teach, one must do. All the faculty members in the arts department have their own personal projects going on during the semester. Verene prides himself on his photo series called “Family,” where he takes pictures of his immediate family as the years go by.
The program, according to the CSI website, provides intensive instruction in art history, drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, and sculpture as well as a broad liberal arts education. The BFA in Art offers two different concentrations: Studio Art or Photography.
Verene explained that both concentrations require the same amount of work, but photography is the chosen media, opposed to traditional arts like painting and drawing.
The faculty of the arts decided at a department meeting to delegate Verene as their spokesperson for this article.
Laura Hollingsworth, one of the first January graduates of the BFA program, claims that the faculty has done nothing but help her through her undergrad journey.
“The professors are great, I only have amazing things to say about them, said Hollingsworth. “It took a bit of time getting all the mistakes out that were in the program because I technically had too many credits.”
Hollingsworth explained that the semester before they offered the BFA program, she took a history course to satisfy her credits, when she didn’t need to.
She claims it caused confusion for a while but her advisors worked through it with her.
The BFA courses are in the process of adjusting their requirements to coincide with the College’s schedule.
Hollingsworth came to the College wanting to become an American Sign Language interpreter. After “stumbling” upon photography in her undergrad, she made the decision to dedicate herself to that and put ASL on hold. She hopes to return to it in the near future.
“You have to be passionate about your work, whatever that is,” said Hollingsworth. “You just have to be passionate and put that passion into your portfolio.”
This degree acts as a saving grace to those who want to continue their higher education in studio art and photography.
“The best part is being able to meet others who are just as, if not more, serious than I about art at CSI,” said Ruth Li, a senior at CSI.
Verene hopes that this program will inspire students to open their creative minds beyond the classroom. “What we’re really interested in is not coursework, but their work.” said Verene.
Those who have applied remain hopeful that they’ll be accepted in May.
“I want to get into it because I want to be an artist and create things,” said Siobhan Granich, a junior at CSI. “I feel to graduate with a BFA is the best way to go. I expect it to be a challenge because you have to show off your best work and put your all into it.”
One of the benefits students can take advantage of with the BFA program is the Visiting Artist Workshop held every Spring semester, known as PHO 315.
Three artists, who have experience in the field of their study, guest teach in four to five week intervals.
Because the artists wouldn’t have enough time to teach a full semester, the Visiting Artist Workshop gives students a taste of what life after graduation is like.
“It gives a different atmosphere than your professor you see every day,” said Hollingsworth. “I know they’re artists also and I know they’re working, but it’s someone different and gives it more variety.”
In the past, CSI has welcomed many artists to their campus through this workshop including Jen DeNike, Nichole Frocheur, Jen Davis, Nandita Raman, Kanako Sasaki, Rachel Barrett, Gina Levay, Justine Reyes, Pradeep Dalal, and Zoe Strauss.
Both Verene and Hollingsworth remembered photographer Michael Lavine, in particular, teaching to a class of lucky photography students.
It’s understandable that Lavine’s name would stand out, being that he has shot musicians like Nirvana, Courtney Love, Cher and Notorious B.I.G for MTV and Rolling Stone; not to mention his latest work on the cast of Empire’s promotional poster.
“Being able to constantly invite important photography stars in is really a significant thing at the school and also for the BFA program,” said Verene. “But it’s not linked to them.”
When The Banner asked Hollingsworth what course she would like to see added onto the BFA requirements that isn’t already, she said a course focused on strictly business would benefit artists and prepare them for post-graduate life.
“You don’t think about it until you graduate and you’re like “Oh man, I don’t have anyone to hold my hand anymore,” said Hollingsworth.
Like any other major, fine arts is a competitive field to go into.
This degree aims to give students a much needed leg-up in the artistic world.
“Graduating with a BFA would mean more confidence when applying to graduate schools,” said Li. “Which is what I am currently doing to get my [Master of Fine Art].”
According to those who have completed the program, all the hard work is worth it in the end.
The Banner sat with Hollingsworth in 1P during a photo session with CSI’s photography students as she reminisced about her time at CSI.
When asked why she was there, she said. “I’m here because I want to be, so I guess that speaks for the program on it’s own.”