University of Rochester

Student Art Majors Make a Quick Trek to Connect with Alumni

October 19, 2005

Five studio art majors will take an overnight trip to New York this week to visit galleries and learn about careers in the arts from recent University of Rochester alumni.

Students in the Senior Studio and Seminar class will travel with Marni Shindelman, assistant professor of art, and Allen C. Topolski, associate professor of art, as they tour Chelsea and Long Island City art galleries, and spend time with graduates working in the field.

Most of the art alumni from The College remain involved in the arts. Among them, Eric LoPresti is a painter with a studio in Brooklyn; Stephanie McBride works for the magazine Departures as a designer and editor; Jessica Sagert is a communications associate at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; Amy-Marie Rivera teaches art at a private elementary school; and Jennifer Chapek is associate curator of Artists Space.

"I think it is a great opportunity for the students to get a sense of the real art world, and to see exhibitions and arts organizations firsthand," says Chapek. "It is extremely important for current art majors to see and have access to alums who work in the field and have 'made it.' The reality is the art world is really small and sometimes tough to crack."

Chapek graduated with a double major in studio art and health and society in 2000. She received her master of fine arts degree in sculpture from the Parsons School of Design, and a Certificate in Arts Administration from New York University in 2002.

The Senior Studio and Seminar class runs two semesters with a seminar and a production component. The seminar addresses contemporary issues in art through readings and discussions of cultural theory, art history, and art criticism. The production aspect consists of an intensive critique of ongoing work, critical writing, and the development of a thesis exhibition, says Topolski. Shindelman is teaching the course now; Topolski will teach it in the spring.

"I sincerely hope that these students leave New York with the understanding that a career in the arts is not limited to being an artist or a curator," points out Sagert, who graduated in 2002 as a double major in studio art and anthropology. "They should understand the importance of selling themselves and how crucial internships are to their development."

Topolski says that's exactly the intent: "It is an opportunity to keep in touch with alumni as well as a great chance for our majors to see where their interests can take them."