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January 25, 2017

Pre-College Profile: Jen Kerbo

'I took every science class that I could in high school, even physics'

Pre-College Profile: Jen Kerbo

By Cindi Deutschman-Ruiz

CIA grad Jen Kerbo (Biomedical Art ’13) could easily have become a scientist or a medical doctor. “I’ve always had an interest in science, and specifically in anatomy,” Kerbo says. “I took every science class that I could in high school, even physics. I took everything, and I loved it.”

But Kerbo has been drawing since age three, and had an equally fierce love of art. She knew she wanted an art-related career. The solution to this dilemma became evident before she even graduated from her magnet high school in Florida, when a teacher introduced her to biomedical art.

“Biomedical art was kind of the perfect in-between for my two interests, and it really fit my realistic style,” Kerbo says.

She credits her education at the Cleveland Institute of Art with giving her broad and varied experience she needed to excel in her job as a medical illustrator at a litigation support company.

“Because I work for a small firm, I wear many hats,” Kerbo says. “I animate. I do all of the medical illustrations and some of the graphics as well.”

For two weeks in summer, Kerbo also teaches Biomedical Art in CIA’s summer Pre-College program for art-interested high school students.

The focus of the first week is figure drawing. “We try to cover a lot of fundamentals in drawing — with both traditional media and digital media —and provide a good basis in musculoskeletal anatomy,” Kerbo says.

“The first day is all gesture drawing. It’s very quick, trying to get students to kind of loosen up and look more, and to really get into how figure drawing is taught in college,” she says. “Then, we work from there to incorporate the anatomy we’ve gone over, with live models. And, while they’re drawing, I’ll talk about muscles they may see, or what bony landmarks they should be noting when they’re drawing.”

Students spend a good deal of time off campus during the second week, visiting the Cleveland Botanical Garden and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

“A lot of students are interested in doing scientific illustration, whether it’s botanical or zoological. And a lot of people are also interested in entomology,” she says. It makes sense to do field work that allows students to build their skills upon a foundation of things they already love.

The summer program allows Kerbo to marry her love of biomedical art with her passion for working with high school students. “There’s just something really special about teenagers, I think. I love interacting with them," she says. “They’re so excited.”

But for Kerbo, it goes deeper than that. Working with students of this age is also about giving back.

“I had an amazing experience in my high school, going to an art magnet program – college level for a lot of it – and I’m happy to help students get that extra edge while they’re still in high school,” she says. “It can give them a little boost if they decide to go into an art-related college, or if they take art classes in college.”

To register for CIA’s Pre-College program, visit cia.edu/precollege.

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