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News . Feature Stories . Immersed in a creative environment: Q + A with Printmaking major Samantha Konet


September 09, 2014

Immersed in a creative environment: Q + A with Printmaking major Samantha Konet

What's your earliest memory of making art?

I always colored inside the lines. I remember in preschool a little boy in a dinosaur shirt always bugged me for doing so, but I never stopped. I was also a repeat offender of drawing on the walls of my living room. Every single piece of paper that was in my reach had a doodle. Doodle is such a strange word, but we all do it. Doodling in and on every folder and notebook throughout my childhood education is what pushed me further into a creative path.

Did you take a lot of art classes in high school?

As a child, I began taking private art classes at the age of 6. Throughout my preteen years, I was always enrolled in a class outside of my school system. When the time came for me to attend high school I was only able to take the first basic art class. After my freshman year, my school system drastically cut back the funding of the art and music programs so I no longer had the opportunity to continue taking high school art classes. I had hoped to take the AP Studio Art class, but with only one student (AKA me) there wasn't even a slight possibility of the class coming back. I continued to take fine arts classes outside of high school up until my junior year. I had been accepted into a visual communications program that my high school had hosted. The program was primarily design based, but I was welcome to pursue the fine arts as I pleased.

Why did you choose to attend an art + design school?

I am a researcher; I can't help it. I like to learn as much as I can, so much so I began researching, specifically art and design schools, when I was a freshman in high school. The idea of an "art" school appealed to me because of the focus that’s offered right in the name. Art school. I eagerly wanted to be immersed in an environment with other students just as dedicated as I am.

What made you choose CIA?

I had first been introduced to CIA in 2007. My mother had taken me to see the Monet in Normandy exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) that day, and when we were leaving CMA she decided to let me have a first glance into – little did I know – my future college. The Student Independent Exhibition had been on view during my brief visit. Something has always stuck with me since that visit: I remember my 12-year-old self infatuated with all of these art objects, everything created in some material I couldn't identify or perhaps at that time my mind just couldn't grasp the wonder that takes place in art school. I wanted to be part of this "wonder.” What takes place in art school almost appears like magic. I chose to attend Cleveland Institute of Art because it feels like home. It literally engulfs you in this comfortable, strange, and warm feeling. It’s like CIA radiates creative genius from the students, faculty, and staff, and you can really feel how welcome you are in the community. I longed to feel like a part of a larger community that I could deeply relate to. CIA had exactly what I wanted.

What made you choose your major?

I chose my major based on my interests. I wanted to find my voice in the free realm of the fine arts, which is why I chose to double major in Drawing and Printmaking. I wanted to learn more about the historical development of these majors because I have an interest in curatorial practice. I felt that by double majoring I would get the most out of understanding the principles of drawing and printmaking in consideration of how they both function in contemporary practices.

Is having your own studio important to your education? And how about interaction with classmates, is that important to your education?

I am beyond grateful to belong to an institution that encourages the development of our studio practices by granting us our individual studio spaces. I believe that it is incredibly important to be able to have a studio space that we each can call our own. It encourages young artists and designers to learn how we function best individually not only in our practice but also in the environment we are creating in. I understand that in the future, more often than not, studio spaces are shared amongst a group of artists and designers. Your fellow classmates will literally be your fellows for the rest of your career. We are all growing individually, but simultaneously. I think it is important to emphasize that you will learn from the interactions you have with your fellow students, more than you would think. The people you meet now will be joining you upon graduation, into the "real world.”

How are your relationships with CIA faculty different than your relationships with your high school teachers?

I would say that my relationship with the CIA faculty is drastically different from with the teachers I had in high school. Here, you are recognized as an individual, and not just another student with directions to draw something a specific way, or to build a cliché birdhouse. There are no rules, just guidelines to be considered and work to be executed in a manner that meets requirements, but surpasses expectations. I have learned that I am no longer a name listed alphabetically on an attendance sheet; I am Samantha Konet. I am learning what it means to call oneself an artist. Through investigations and experiments I am broadening my understanding of mediums and materials. I am indulging in the beautiful literature works and reading we are given weekly. I love that every moment at CIA is something that I can hold onto. We are lucky at CIA to have a faculty that is not only dedicated to their own practices, but to helping us find our place in the community too. It is their teachings that shape our practices, and show us that there is never just one way to solve a problem. There are millions.

Have you had any internships? If so, where and how did you like it?

I’ve had one internship so far within my college career. I worked in our school gallery, Reinberger Galleries, under the supervision of our gallery director, Bruce Checefsky, and the project coordinator, Nikki Woods. I was responsible for collecting research on incoming artists. I helped with exhibition installation and the take down of exhibitions. I also helped design and implement a one-night-only “flash exhibition.” Most recently, through the support of the gallery, I curated and organized my first exhibition with featured work from fellow students in the secondary space located in the JMC building. This was my first experience in a gallery space where I was part of the labor, and where I was allowed to take part in the production and execution of an exhibition. I had originally considered my internship at the gallery as a way for me to pursue my interest in curatorial studies. Reinberger Galleries was a resource inside the school for me to become involved with the operations of running a gallery, and how it approaches the community outside of the school's boundaries. I understand that many learning experiences function as great life experiences, and I would like to recognize my internship as one. It is only the beginning of my career as an artist and furthermore as a future curator. Even within the moments where I had a smaller workload, I still appreciated spending time in the Reinberger Galleries. I can say that as my internship has reached its end, I have noticed a change in how comfortable I am to address my passion with the field of curatorial studies. I am beyond happy to say that the Reinberger Galleries is where I started.

What one thing about the CIA experience surprised you the most?

I don't know if "surprised" is the correct way to say that sometimes you experience moments so unreal that you have to stop and remind yourself that yes, you are in art school and yes, that really just happened. If you never experience a moment like that I don't know if you are truly experiencing art school for its "weird,” but acceptable tendencies.

How do you like Cleveland?

There is something for everyone, believe it or not. Small businesses are supported by communities. Our art community is building and renovating new galleries, new restaurants are opening. In years to come Cleveland will suddenly feel very new. Being a student, I can see how opportunities for college graduates are growing immensely in our small city. It is moments like this, being a part of the renaissance that is occurring, that has shown me there is more to being an artist or designer than needing to live in a big, overpopulated city to living in a city that shows how much they care. Cleveland will always have my heart, no matter how far I travel away; it will always be home.

What would you say to a high school student considering attending CIA?

I want you to understand that this is a big step in your life. I know it sounds a little scary but you should also know that you are doing a beautiful thing. You are deciding to pursue your passion, some people can only dream of feeling how we feel. You are part of a group of people that helps the world communicate and see and exercise their creative tendencies. You will be creating and designing things that are encouraging people to do so. You will be joining other students who share the same eagerness to learn. You are no longer alone; you are part of a community that exceeds the boundaries of just this school. You will be joining the artists and designers of the future. Welcome to the Cleveland Institute of Art.

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