MSU students, faculty help launch NYC art field study

November 14th, 2014 Comments Off on MSU students, faculty help launch NYC art field study

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Seniors Britney Johnson, a graphic design major from Bay St. Louis, and Christina McField, a fine arts major from Madison, relax at Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain. They were among 16 MSU art majors recently completing a five-day field study in New York City. Photo by: submitted/Lauren Blalock

By Sasha Steinberg | MSU Office of Public Affairs

Sixteen students and two faculty members in Mississippi State’s art department are back on campus following a five-day field study in New York City.

Led by instructor Lori Neuenfeldt and assistant professor Neil Callander, the students are part of the university department’s new Special Topic in ART-Art Field Study. The course was created to provide historical and contemporary cultural experiences in the Big Apple’s worlds of art and design through visits to museums, galleries, artists’ studios and design firms, among other activities.

Neuenfeldt said the course also was designed to give MSU students, many from small cities and towns, the confidence to travel and pursue cultural experiences as they prepare for professional careers after graduation.

“We already see that the students who went on the trip are extra motivated to start their careers and are considering the possibilities that a cultural center like New York has to offer,” she said.

Currently being offered only to sophomore-senior art majors during the fall semester, the one-hour elective resulted from a year-long planning collaboration by Neuenfeldt, Callander, veteran art professor Brent Funderburk and assistant professor Greg Martin.

“The art department has done trips to cities in the past, but they were never built into a particular course like they are in other programs, such as architecture, fashion design and merchandising, and interior design,” Neuenfeldt said. “We designed this experienced-based field study course for our fine art, graphic design and photography majors, especially for those who were missing out on a key component of the fine-arts experience, seeing works of art in person.”

Since the group contained graphic design and fine art majors, “we wanted to offer experiences that highlighted both careers,” she emphasized.

Among other locales, the MSU group visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, graphic design work spaces of Kate Spade Saturday and The Barbarian Group, along with a shared loft in the SoHo neighborhood of artists Claudia DeMonte and Ed McGowan.

Perhaps most importantly, the students and faculty had opportunities to meet with former MSU art majors that have “made it” in New York. They included Jessi Arrington, co-founder of WORKSHOP Graphic Design Firm; Sarah Foley, design manager at Johnson & Johnson; Angela Minor, graphic designer for Global Visual Merchandising & Store Design at The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.; Meredith Norwood, head designer at Azzure Home; and June Upton, a graduate student at Parsons: The New School for Design.

Combining notes, sketches, photographs and videos compiled during the week, the 16-member class now is working to create a “pitch” that will be presented to other students, faculty and interested members of the public at the semester’s conclusion.

One class member is senior Molly M. Howell, an art/painting major from Estill Springs, Tennessee, who previously had visited New York with her family. Viewing works of world-famous artists in Chelsea neighborhood galleries and visiting graduate school representatives from top U.S. art schools on the Parsons campus were among her highlights, she said.

“Having the opportunity to go to New York City and be exposed to the art scene there taught me that MSU is giving me all the tools I need to take my career and life to the next step,” Howell said.

Senior graphic design major Britney Johnson of Bay St. Louis said she most appreciated “encouraging” and “invaluable” insights of the former MSU students.

“Coming from a small town in Mississippi, it sometimes seems like being successful in a place like New York is out of reach, but seeing a community of MSU alumni living and working in New York and hearing their stories really showed me that it is not,” she said.

“There are MSU alumni doing big things in the Big Apple, and hopefully, this trip will show other students that they can be next,” she added.

Part of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, the art department currently offers a bachelor’s degree with concentrations in ceramics, drawing, graphic design, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture.

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