From Van Gogh to the Virtual

Carolina’s Studio Art program exemplifies the marriage of tradition and innovation.

Unlike many schools around the country, Carolina’s Studio Art program encourages its graduate students to work with multiple media. Faculty member Jim Hirschfield says that it’s that way by design.

“We don’t divide sculpture from photography from printmaking from ceramics,” Hirschfield says. “We give a degree in art.”

A student can come in as a painter and leave a videographer. The Art Department has diverse faculty members, who offer different viewpoints that lead to the creation of independent artists and thinkers.

“When our students graduate, their art doesn’t look like each others’. It doesn’t look like the faculty’s,” says Director of Graduate Studies Beth Grabowski. “This signals that students have found their own voice.”

With their own voices, Carolina alumni win awards in the traditional arts, such as sculpture and painting, as well as in new media, such as documentary production.

“One of the reasons I went to Carolina as opposed to other programs is that it’s interdisciplinary,” says Ethan Murrow, who completed the MFA program in 2002. “I came in as a painter, but wanted to diversify. I knew that my work was heading toward an area where I wanted to experiment widely with media.”

Carolina’s curriculum teaches students more than how to use different media. The students learn which media enable them to express themselves best, Hirschfield says.

“Working across media is very much a trait of contemporary art,” Hirschfield says. “If an artist is an individual and true to his or her own voice, the work will have meaning.”

♦ Brian Conlin