Studio Art



While at Mary Baldwin I was encouraged to experiment, practice critical thinking and develop my communication skills. All of these things along with the technical skills I learned at MBC have become the foundations of my regular studio practice. Art is often a challenging profession that requires a great deal of self discipline and motivation. My professors encouraged me to develop as an artist and provided me with the skills I needed to continue pursing my career in the fine arts.


Life in the creative field requires passion and a level of dedication to personal growth. The Studio Art program at Mary Baldwin teaches the student to harness their technical skills while encouraging the cultivation of strong ideas. When I reflect upon my time as a Studio Art major, I think not only of my diverse education, but just as importantly the people who offered it to me. A phenomenon happens in Deming Hall where bonds are created between professors and students alike. With this supportive and willing community, the creative process becomes a tangible skill.


As a Studio Art major at MBC I felt challenged while also being able to explore my own ideas. MBC’s art faculty allowed me to follow my chosen path in my studio practice rather than being caught within the confines of traditional media. A blurring of the lines between media allowed me to gain a strong foundation in art. Following graduation I went on to pursue and complete my MFA. I especially think my liberal arts background form MBC prepared me greatly for graduate studies as well as skills for the real working world.


My pursuit of the visual arts at Mary Baldwin was an unexpected departure from my academic comfort zone. I had not taken art courses before attending Mary Baldwin. I owe my relatively new found love for art to the liberal arts structure of the college, which encourages exploration across disciplines. At Mary Baldwin, I was introduced to art as something to be approached thoughtfully and considered seriously. I was introduced to critical theory, which has given my art a strong conceptual grounding. After Mary Baldwin, I went on to Memphis College of Art to pursue a Master’s in Fine Arts. I will always be grateful for the time I was able to spend in Deming.


When asked where I attended college and what I majored in, I can proudly claim that I was a Studio Art major at Mary Baldwin College.  As a student, I felt a strong connection to the Studio Art faculty due to their honest, challenging, and encouraging approach to teaching. Under the guidance of such excellent faculty as Paul Ryan, Jim Sconyers, Shay Clanton, and Martha Saunders, I was continually encouraged to challenge myself as an artist and a young woman. Through group critiques, small scale classes and collaborative projects, I gained a sense of confidence and interpersonal skills that have continued to carry me in my life and career. Alternatively, working independently on projects enabled my artistic process and conceptual approach to mature. I loved the character of our studio art space, with decades of paint spattered on worn wooden floors and private studio spaces for seniors to develop their final projects. My best memories lie in the direction of Paul Ryan’s drawing courses, where we were constantly encouraged to blur the boundaries and put our own stylistic stamp on the creative process. Most importantly, I was taught to be a thinker and a do-er, to be willing to take risks and use my intuition. Along with the studio art courses comes many wonderful opportunities to view Hunt Gallery shows, meet a variety of renowned professional artists, and engage in fantastic May Term opportunities.  I graduated with distinction in Studio Art and was the 1st place recipient of the 2007 Capstone Festival for my Senior Art Exhibition.  Currently my BA has led me to further creative endeavors. I have my own jewelry and accessory design business, exhibiting around the east coast at art fairs. As an entrepreneur, my design skills have expanded into professional decorating and floral design. I am also employed as a guest artist at the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School, specializing in four courses:  sculptural painting, fashion design, jewelry design with polymer clay, and basic costuming.


My time as a Studio Art major at Mary Baldwin was one of intense, exciting development. I was welcomed with open arms by Martha Saunders, who was my professor in my first-year art fundamentals classes. After that, art quickly took over my life. I started off thinking that I was going to be a psychology major, but that quickly dropped to a minor when I decided to declare a Studio Art major with a double emphasis in painting and ceramics. I was also encouraged to pick up an art history minor while maintaining my ties to music through a piano minor. Studio professors Paul Ryan and Nancy Ross quickly became mentors for me as I started to spend all my time in either the painting studio or the ceramics studio. They both encouraged me to try new techniques and find out what my own art was going to look like. Under their tutelage I began to make large abstract paintings and functional ceramics connected to the rich history of pottery.

During my time at Mary Baldwin I was also lucky enough to travel abroad to Italy and to El Salvador with the Department of Art and Art History. My trip to Italy brought to life all that I had been learning in my art history classes and provided me with a cultural experience I had not had up until then. My trip to El Salvador with artist/activist Claudia Bernardi and art history professor Marlena Hobson introduced me to what has since then become my passion and my life’s work: community art. Directly after graduating I got accepted into Lesley University’s Master of Education in Community Art program and began to work at the Museum of Fine Arts as an instructor in the Community Art department, continuing to grow the flame that was started in El Salvador. In my free time I have started a community art center, the STUDIO of Possibilities, and have continued to make art which I document on my website, The Studio Art department at Mary Baldwin provided me with an incredible network of support both while I was at school and after I graduated, and helped to start the incredible life I now lead in Boston, MA.


Everyone expects to go to college and focus on academics. However, many students don’t expect the strong community and bonds that form as a result of the struggle toward academic excellence. The professors within the Studio Art Major genuinely helped me blossom as a student AND individual. I became more confident in myself and my abilities, and pursued the craft that I love whole-heartedly upon graduation. Though there were set-backs along the way within school and post-graduate, I was able to rebound because of the guidance and support of the art faculty. As an example of the unique opportunities I have experienced during my time within and outside of MBC, I participated in the Capstone Festival; was offered gallery space in Hunt Gallery twice; interned at Hunt Gallery and the Virginia Museum of Arts; filled a sketchbook while in Prague and the Czech Republic; studied Renaisance art in Italy; visited New York City numerous times; and the list goes on. It’s amazing to think that all these doors opened up to me during my stay at MBC. I am grateful everyday. Now I am only four months beyond graduation and living in Orlando while working for both Walt Disney World and in the costuming department of the Orlando Repertory Theatre. I love both my jobs, and everyday I wake up excited that I get paid to be hands-on and creative


Looking back, I was very lucky to have been a part of the Studio Arts program at Mary Baldwin College.  While I had been certain that I was going to pursue my interest in art academically, I needed the right environment to thrive. At Mary Baldwin, I found that environment. I received what I needed to discover myself as an artist, from the faculty guiding me through my first oil painting (which is now one of my favorite mediums) to helping me understand my initial experiences with the lexicon of a contemporary artist.

As I settled into the Studio Arts program, I gained a personal space in the studio which was filled with the natural light that I loved.  More importantly, I gained the mentorship of an artist and professor who was incredibly sensitive to what I needed in order to grow.  When I reached that crucial moment of having to create work purely of my own mind and making, I could have been in a free fall of uncertainty for years while developing my practice. My professors at Mary Baldwin helped me realize the strengths in my work and what I loved about the process of creation. My artistic process since this development has been based on the aspects of myself and my work that they helped me recognize and nurture. Upon graduating from Mary Baldwin College in 2010, I have been continuing my arts education. Having completed the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Post-Baccalaureate program in the Spring of 2012, I am now taking steps to earning a Master’s in Fine Art.


I decided early in high school that I wanted to study art – that was the easy part. When searching for the right college, all I knew for sure was that I wanted to be in a place where I would feel at home and I would get a personalized education; when I found Mary Baldwin, it was an instant connection.

The studio art major at MBC is constructed in a way that allows each student to build off of her previous knowledge. My professors met me where I was artistically, and pushed my skills so that I was constantly learning – even if I thought I was already good at something. They helped me discover weak areas and challenged me to get better. I knew I had to always do my best work, even if it meant spending a few extra hours in the studio each evening. The faculty is also extremely understanding; if I was struggling I always had someone I knew I could go to for help. As I reached my senior year, I was student teaching and working on my senior show, but Professor Ryan worked with me and made sure I didn’t fall behind. I was given guided freedom and constant feedback which allowed me to create some artwork that I am so proud of. (And sometimes I’m still impressed I did it!) The art program at MBC is designed to make you successful; you just have to want it.

Now I have a wonderful job as the art teacher at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, VA. I am doing what I love every day, thanks to my professors at MBC. I am still pursuing my passion for art in my personal life, because I learned as a student that there is always time for art.


In 2006 and after twenty years of working in the business world, I decided to step away from corporate America and pursue a life-long passion — making art. I attended Southern Virginia University for one year; then, after visiting the school and meeting with faculty, I transferred to Mary Baldwin College, through the Adult Degree Program, where I majored in Studio Art and Arts Management. It was the perfect fit.

I spent the next several years working diligently in the studio and taking every class I could handle while working full-time as well. Little did I know how much contemporary art theory and criticism classes would impact my view of art – continuing to shape my own practice and philosophy in teaching.

The professors and staff at Mary Baldwin were outstanding, always having an open-door policy for the students. The program itself brought to campus many contemporary artists at the cutting edge of their careers providing students with one-on-one visits that were insightful and inspiring. Having the opportunity to engage with artists such as Janine Antoni and Claudia Bernardi was an unforgettable experience.

After graduating from Mary Baldwin in 2009, I received a Graduate Fellowship from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which ultimately led me to attend graduate school at James Madison University. In 2012 I graduated with a Master of Fine Art in Painting.

My experience at Mary Baldwin College continues to influence my personal and professional life. Currently I am an adjunct professor with Blue Ridge Community College where I teach Art Appreciation. I am also the founder of the Morazan Alliance Partnership (MAP) — an organization born from the trips I made to El Salvador while attending Mary Baldwin. The purpose of this organization is to celebrate the people of El Salvador through the preservation of traditions and by building prosperity through the arts, education, and entrepreneurship.


Choosing to major in Studio Art at Mary Baldwin remains one of the best decisions I’ve made regarding my future. I learned how to think critically, work thoughtfully, and become a better artist through regular studio practice, weekly critiques, and the ever-present conversations on everything from current art criticism to ancient art history that accompany a college degree. Along the way I was encouraged to take a stab in the dark here and there, most notably in the areas of curatorial arts and printmaking. I interned at Mary Baldwin’s Hunt Gallery, where I discovered and cultivated my desire and knowledge of the curatorial arts. With my decision to add printmaking as an emphasis in my Studio major (I also had painting and photography emphases), I discovered a way of making art that I had never considered, and that, to this day, has impacted the way I produce, view, and feel about the making of art. This birth of ideas was exciting and remains so.

Since graduating from MBC in 2010 my B.A. in Studio Art has served me well. I was offered a position as curator at a regional art center where I’ve now worked for two years. I’ve been given several exhibitions and secured a studio space of my own. And, I’ve maintained relationships with my former instructors, who I now consider to be true mentors and friends. I’ve been so fortunate to have all of these things in my life and I credit it all to my Studio Art major. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that a degree in Studio Art is a dead end. I’m proof that the major can prepare you for more than you can imagine; it is a well-earned and beautifully illustrated open book.