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News . Feature Stories . Passionate about art: Q + A with Photography + Video major Maria Martinez

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September 05, 2014

Passionate about art: Q + A with Photography + Video major Maria Martinez

What's your earliest memory of making art?

I got my first camera in middle school and it was the first time that I experienced a true artistic outlet. Every year for Christmas, I asked for a better camera. It wasn’t long before photo became all I thought about.

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

Kind of. I took a Digital Arts course in tenth grade, and an Intro to Photo course my senior year. My high school has a literary and art magazine, Stylus. I submitted some work to it in tenth grade, then in eleventh grade I became editor in chief and continued until I graduated. Being in charge of publishing a 45-page magazine was not easy, but it was so much fun! I learned a lot about art through working on it.

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

I became more and more invested in photography throughout high school. When it came time to visit campuses, I tried out a few universities, but the problem was that when I asked questions about their art and design programs, there really wasn’t that much information. Some schools had almost none and some had some that were new to their school. I realized that I wanted and NEEDED to be in an environment where everyone was as passionate about art as I was. I needed to be part of an art community.

What made you choose CIA?

I wanted my college experience to be a completely new journey. Part of it was moving away from my hometown on the west coast, but the school had to be exceptional too. I chose CIA because it was located in a large enough city, and the curricula for my areas of interest sounded amazing. The alumni list was also impressive.

What made you choose your major?

I came into CIA knowing that I wanted to be a photo major. The faculty in my department are amazing. They are all so invested in sharing their knowledge with every student they have, and they’re all very talented artists themselves. I was also impressed with the work that photo upperclassmen had been producing. I knew it would be a good fit.

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

Yes!! Having my own workspace is a great privilege. I am able to surround myself with my work and spend as much time with it as I want. Having our own studios also makes studio visits possible and effective because we can discuss the work that’s right in front of us. That being said, getting feedback from as many people as possible is essential. It’s nice to be able to walk down the hall, or even just take a few steps to the next studio, and have a conversation with a peer about each other’s work. It helps us navigate through any issues we might be having and is also good practice for critiques.

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

Although I had awesome high school teachers, my relationships with CIA faculty are one of a kind. Not only are they there to teach you, but they also enjoy working with you when they get the chance. It’s great to know that they are interested in your work and progress. It’s also great to be able to see their work and go to their gallery openings and shows. It’s not just a student-to-teacher relationship. You develop an artist-to-artist relationship…hello networking!

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

I didn’t have an internship while at CIA. But I was part of the Community Service Club (CSC) all four years, president for my last two. Being an officer, I was very involved in every aspect of the club. It was a great way to meet new people and maintain a relationship with the incoming classes as I became an upperclassman. Working with different organizations, I was also able to experience so much of Cleveland that I would have otherwise never gotten the chance to learn about.

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

LOF! I have to mention this. Throughout the year, CIA hosts visiting artist lectures/presentations called Lunch On Fridays (LOF), and the whole CIA community is invited. Being able to hear/see/meet a new artist every week was so awesome. Artist talks become part of your life while you’re at CIA. It’s a great way to lean about new people, work/projects, and pretty much anything about life as an artist. I really appreciate that I was able to learn so much through LOF…and let’s not forget the free pizza.

How do you like Cleveland?

I love it. I hold Cleveland very near and dear to my heart. It was a great city to live in for my college experience. There are lots of cool spots throughout the city where art and culture are thriving. I learned a lot about myself as an artist and as a person here in Cleveland, and that’s something that I will take with me for the rest of my life.

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

Do it. CIA is a fantastic school with an incredible amount of insanely talented people. The level of community that exists here is something to cherish. It’s so worth it.

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