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Kentuckians in Visual Arts

What kinds of jobs and careers are available in the visual arts, and what does it take to make the visual arts your occupation? Check out the names below to get the who, what, when, where, how, and why straight from these visual arts professionals with Kentucky connections.

Leslie Friesen: Graphic Designer

Louisville, Kentucky
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Who
Leslie Friesen has worked as a graphic designer for 22 years. After graduating with a degree in fine arts from the University of Louisville, she did design and production work for Louisville magazine. In 1985, she took the position of art director at Wenz-Neely, a Louisville public relations firm. She headed the design group there for 17 years before leaving in 2002 to start her own graphic design business. That same year, Friesen was invited to fill a new position as the designer-in-residence at the Allen R. Hite Art Institute at U of L—a position specifically created to bring professional experience into the classroom. She teaches graphic design in a BFA program in communication art and design and serves as a liaison with the professional community.

What
“I didn’t intentionally set out to study graphic design. After first studying photography, I decided to take a course in graphic design. I found out this field really suited me, with its artistic side and its logical side. I like creating things, and I like creating things that have a specific purpose. My current position at U of L involves teaching graphic design classes; helping find and develop co-op opportunities for students; promoting our program to potential students and to the professional community; and participating in faculty activities including committees, faculty meetings, advising, and service. In addition, I still do design projects, some for the Department of Fine Arts, several pro bono projects, and I still do a small amount of client work that can fit within a full-time teaching schedule.”

When
“I generally work about eight hours a day. My teaching schedule is usually two studio classes a semester, both of which meet for six hours a week. Most of my work is done at U of L, although I can work at home on work that is outside the classroom.”

How
“The biggest challenge, I find, is dealing with the ongoing issue of ‘How can I teach creativity?’ Concept development is usually the biggest challenge of the creative process. The aesthetics and craft skills are easier to teach, but students must come up with their own ideas for how to approach each problem. There is no simple formula for generating creative ideas. There are many different paths and processes that will help you get to that creative idea. Mostly you have to get students to develop lots of ideas so they can choose a successful direction. Most students, and probably many professionals, are very quick to run with that first idea, shortchanging the hard process of additional idea generation, which may lead them to a better idea.”

Why
“I really enjoy working on an interesting project with a team of people, including other designers, clients, copywriters, photographers, illustrators, printers. I enjoy coming up with a solution that both successfully solves the problem and remains visually engaging. As a teacher, it’s great to watch students evolve, seeing their creative growth as they gain skills and confidence. It’s exciting to see students come up with a great solution and then design it beautifully.”

Getting There
“As a designer, you are a visual communicator. You are communicating information or a message to a particular group of people for a particular reason. The designer is both a specialist in visual communication and a generalist, both in the creative and analytical sense. Designers have to learn enough about a client’s business and message to be able to communicate well to the appropriate audience in an appropriate format. You are going to be doing lots of other things besides just ‘being creative,’ such as meeting with clients, working with other designers, doing production work, and managing the project and the budget. You might be wearing a lot of different hats aside from the creative one. I believe that the best graphic designers are also very intelligent people, so I definitely recommend getting a BFA in graphic design. Not only are the graphic design and art courses going to help you develop your skills, but also the other liberal arts courses are extremely important. Read, look, learn, and assimilate. Be curious, be engaged, and be ready to learn about anything. Be a lifelong learner.”

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Tim Glotzbach: Jeweler, Metalsmith and Arts Administrator

Hindman, Kentucky
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Who
Tim Glotzbach, a professional jeweler and metalsmith, has served as an educator for more than 20 years. He grew up on his family’s farm in southern Indiana with seven siblings, surrounded by an environment that both stimulated and encouraged imaginative solutions to everyday needs. In high school, Glotzbach followed his interests in math and science in preparation for college. As an undergrad at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, he chose to major in archaeology. But by his junior year, he had taken several graphic design and art courses and found himself spending more time in the studio than anywhere else. He eventually learned the art of jewelry and metalworking, which led to an MFA at the University of Southern Illinois at Carbondale. After teaching two-dimensional design, drawing, and jewelry/metalworking courses at the State University of New York in Oswego, he moved to Kentucky to start a new jewelry and metalworking program at Eastern Kentucky University. There he also served as a consultant for various art projects throughout the area and worked to develop new programs and recruit students. In 1999, he joined a national advocacy council to devise a new community college program. Soon afterward, he accepted the position of academic dean of the Heritage and Humanities Division of Hazard Community College and helped to found and direct the Kentucky School of Craft in Hindman, Kentucky. Meanwhile, he continues with his own art; his metal work has been exhibited every year since 1975 in noted museums, galleries, and traveling exhibits across the United States.

What
“Aside from teaching students and working in the studio, my work at Hazard Community College and the Kentucky School of Craft involves many different tasks. Any given week, I might spend time meeting with legislators, representatives from the governor’s office, and colleagues in the arts education field. I spend a lot of time working on KSC’s budget, determining the school’s goals and programming, hiring and training new staff, searching for new faculty, and developing new courses that fuse craft and design instruction with training in business and career development. As academic dean at HCC, I report to the division chair, working with the president and provost to develop new music, interpretive arts, and visual arts programs.”

When
“I usually have an open-ended schedule. I start the day around 7:30/8:00 am in the office, attend one or more meetings, etc. I keep my day flexible enough to accommodate new challenges, and I often work at night. I don’t often think of it as ‘regular job’ kind of work. In terms of using my own creativity to build these programs for KSC, it’s more like working in a studio.”

How
“You have to realize that creativity takes many different forms. There are opportunities to be creative in sports, in business, and especially in solving problems. People get bored when they are denied the chance to solve problems using their own talents and abilities. My day only becomes ‘typical’ when I have to meet or work with people that only see one solution to a problem, usually a ‘quick fix.’ I try to avoid cut-and-dried solutions to the problems I know I can solve more effectively with a little hard work and imagination. And that’s what anyone in my field will tell you about how important the arts are for young people. The arts strengthen the way we observe and judge our quality of life and the decisions we make.”

Why
“When I began as an artist, I never would have believed that I would have this job at KSC. After teaching for more than 20 years of my life, I had often considered the idea of opening my own school and jumped at the chance to direct the school. Ever since I can remember, I drew, I invented things, and even though we were living and working on a farm, I always believed that we were really rich, especially looking back. We were a ‘making family,’ using our creativity and knowledge to take care of all sorts of things. This gives a person, especially at a young age, a special desire for independence and a ‘yes-you-can’ attitude. Later, in college, and under the guidance of one of my teachers, I got to lead a four-week course during my senior year. The combined experience of helping students and my work as an artist led me to believe that management, education, and creativity can all go hand-in-hand. This really came full force at EKU as I had the opportunity to teach, work in the studio, and help develop programs that focused on the creative aspects of career development and business skills.”

Getting There
“Anyone interested in teaching should obviously stay in school and work hard. Learning discipline as a student in several areas makes it easy to recognize a direction to take. When the light bulb goes on, you’re more capable of knuckling down in pursuit of your passion. In arts administration, the work requires you to be a good organizer and motivator, both of yourself and other people, putting the group first as someone who has an expert understanding of the organization’s direction. You have to believe sincerely in the work you are doing, because a teacher or leader’s response to problems either brings out the creativity of the class or group or encourages a kind of apathy. It’s a teacher’s job to work with students to help them along the path to finding their own passion, not telling them what it might be.”

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Edward Carroll Hale: Art and Design Professor

Richmond, Kentucky
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Who
Carroll Hale, sculptor and art professor at Eastern Kentucky University, traces his interest in three-dimensional art and design to his childhood, when he built models, worked with pottery, and spent time in an artist friend/mentor’s studio. “I just had a three-dimensional way of seeing an object, seeing depth and perspective instead of seeing an object as a flat thing,” he says. After high school, he joined the Air Force and spent four years working as an electronics technician with navigational computer systems. After his military service, he attended the University of Kentucky as an art major. Then he spent five years as a middle school art teacher (two years as the department chair) in Maryland. After receiving his MFA from the Maryland Institute of Art, he taught at Pembroke University in North Carolina for two years. In 1969, he accepted a position at EKU. Altogether, he has taught art studio and art appreciation courses at the college level for almost 40 years. He also helps graduating students as senior adviser of the EKU Department of Art and Design and has twice served as the department chair. Hale is a practicing sculptor, painter, potter, and photographer.
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What
“I teach sculpture classes in all techniques, including bronze, stone carving, plaster work, and three-dimensional design and composition. I work within the department’s overall organization, developing various projects with other faculty and assisting with the general art program. However, most of my work is with students: preparing lectures, guiding projects, serving as a technical resource, and evaluating my students’ work. I maintain all the equipment and supplies for the studio. I usually end up spending twice as much time in preparation for a class than I do in the actual classroom/studio instructing students.”

When
“I spend up to 10 to 12 hours in-studio with students and doing additional work for the department. My day usually begins at 7:30 am and is spent primarily in the classroom. I often work at night and on the weekends on current projects.”

How
“Each day is different, with a new set of problems to solve. My biggest challenge is making sure students get the message. Being a good listener, providing students with enough information, helping them advance, and continuing my own education to stay on top of the developments in this field are all musts when I consider the needs of my students.”

Why
“I love to see students learn and grow while knowing that I’ve been a part of the process. I’ve been accused of being an adviser-for-life because I want to be directly involved in the development of my students’ talents.”
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Getting There
“I spent my youth working at a wide variety of odd jobs, then joined the Air Force. I spent a lot of time in an artist’s studio when I was young. So I would say that it is really important to do and learn as many things as possible, especially if you want to be an artist. Artists and educators shouldn’t concentrate on being good in one specialized field. They should maintain a broad range of knowledge and experience, or their artwork and their students will suffer. Choose schools that offer a broad curriculum. Work with as many other artists as possible. Read as much as you can and don’t stop learning. If you want to teach, especially at the university level, get as much classroom experience as possible, in addition to continuing to broaden your overall knowledge. You also have to enjoy people. You must be optimistic, trusting, and willing to do work outside of class to maintain experience in your field. You must always be willing to start over—both with projects and with people. And you should always make sure, especially in the studio, to have a Plan B. Sometimes the kiln just doesn’t fire or the furnace won’t work, and you have to change your teaching plan on the spot. Finally, if you want to teach sculpture, get a truck: It’s a ‘heavy’ job.”

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Gwen Heffner: Artisan Center Information Specialist

Berea, Kentucky
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Who
Gwen Heffner has always been interested in art and the natural world. Having many diverse interests, she spent hours of her childhood making drawings of her horses and rural surroundings or creating things from found objects. Her college career initially focused on biology and veterinary science, but she changed to art after taking a class in painting. She received a BFA in printmaking and ceramics from Luther College in Iowa, then moved to Minneapolis to work in a production pottery to decide whether she could manage pots as a full-time career. She moved to Kentucky to accept a graduate assistantship with Tom Marsh at the University of Louisville, where she received her MA degree in ceramics. After graduate school, Heffner worked as a graphic designer and as an artist-in-residence for the Kentucky Arts Council, saving money to set up her studio. After finally settling and building a studio on Pen Gap Farm, outside Irvine, she began a full-time career selling her pottery at American Craft Council wholesale shows and retail shows around the country. In 1992, she opened Contemporary Artifacts Gallery in Berea, Kentucky. Setting up a throwing studio within the gallery, she sold her work in the gallery along with that of more than 80 other artists from around the country.

As a gallery owner, Heffner also began to develop her skills as a promoter and curator of exhibitions, putting together works from nationally recognized or sometimes unknown artists. “I love to showcase works that are either ignored by the arts community or have never been gathered together and exhibited,” she says. “Curating exhibitions is a very creative process that I really love because it pulls together all my accumulated knowledge and resources.

“I have recently noticed that my career is beginning to come full circle. I am asked to jury the same shows where I once retailed my own work, and I am asked to give lectures on porcelain, marketing, promotion, and all the other aspects of life one must master when making a living as an artist.”
http://www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov/”>Kentucky Artisan Center as its information specialist and resource coordinator, lending her experiences as a professional artist, regional arts educator, and exhibition director to the job of promoting Kentucky artists. She has three main responsibilities: PR, programming, and curating exhibitions.
What
“I have always been interested in developing my personal knowledge from as many different sources as possible. In this job I deal with all kinds of information, and my promotional skills, curatorial skills, and knowledge of the arts and artisans of the state are all brought into play. I handle the center’s PR, which means I do a lot of writing. (It’s a good thing I minored in English!) My job includes writing and distributing press releases, putting together press kits for writers, documenting and archiving photos of artisans, writing exhibition promotional materials, and writing and distributing our quarterly e-newsletter.

“I also direct the center’s artisan programming, which includes booking two weekly demonstrating artists as well as special events such as book signings, food tastings, musical performances, and readings. Demonstrating artists on site bring the creative process to life for visitors here at the center, and it is a natural way to promote and educate visitors about Kentucky and its artisans.

“As the center’s curator, I put together three to four major exhibitions per year in the center’s main gallery. I also create and install about three to four exhibits in the center’s lobby. Basically I try to keep a finger on the pulse of what hasn’t been seen from Kentucky’s large pool of talent.” [The center currently handles works from more than 650 artisans and vendors.]

“I keep a personal connection with artists and vendors throughout Kentucky and build on these relationships—I learned a long time ago that the world is all about relationships. I work with our sales staff to teach them sales techniques and people skills and give them information about the artists whose work we sell. It is the center’s goal to have all our staff be knowledgeable and, above all, helpful when it comes to sales and information about the exhibits, cultural heritage sites, travel information, and the artists whose works are sold and on display here. I have put together an art and craft compendium for staff that covers history, tools, terms, techniques, and general information about each medium so that they can learn and be knowledgeable about the work here.”
When
“The Kentucky Artisan Center is open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm every day of the week, but I spend a lot of extra hours on my own developing ideas for exhibitions at the center.”
How
“Keeping up with the paperwork I deal with on a regular basis can sometimes become overwhelming. It is often difficult to balance the three areas I am responsible for, and I find it is getting harder to stay abreast of what is going on in the wider world of art and fine craft. To compensate, I try to get out into other parts of the state and beyond and network with my peers in other states as well as with regional arts organizations. I guess I have always been curious as well as being an information gatherer and sharer—so this job is a natural fit for me.”
Why
“For me, the most rewarding aspect of this job is when an exhibition is a success—when the promotional effort matches the quality and spirit of the artwork and attracts the attention of the people viewing it. I love it when all of these elements come together with a great result. I’ve found that if you really believe in someone’s work, it is quite easy to promote it—tell others about it and sell it. It is also rewarding to teach staff about the works and artists we represent, then watch them make that connection with a customer buying the work. Putting the artist, object, creative process, and buyer together in a personal and knowledgeable way is absolutely wonderful.
“I have always believed that the person behind the work is the really important thing we get when we purchase and live with art and craft. It’s the best kind of human connection—and one that is maybe needed more than ever. Our weekly demonstrations give that connection as well, allowing staff and the public a clear view of many different artistic processes.”
Getting There
“One of the most difficult things I had to do was write my master’s thesis, because I didn’t yet have the skills to analyze myself from the inside out. But I realized how easy it was when I started asking questions like ‘Why?’ and ‘What if?” to every new work. The skill of self-critique and examination is often overlooked in academia, but it is essential for your development as an artist throughout your entire life. Asking yourself questions about your work and why you do it helps you discover the personal connections and bridges that clarify why you do what you do—and it opens creative doors.

“You have to work hard at getting good, and you need to really love what you are doing, or it’s all just a sham or about ego. It doesn’t happen overnight, and only time and practice will allow you to get good at what you do. I have always worked in a series, and that has fed my porcelain work. I often tell people not to ask their art to earn their living too soon. If you avoid this pressure and diversify the way you receive income, both things will develop much more healthily.

“Looking back, I have been a student of art most of my life. By making a living as a producing potter all those years, then being a gallery owner and promoter, I have the benefit of having a perspective from both sides of the fence. This, I believe, keeps my view balanced and sympathetic to the artist, yet practical from a sales angle.

“For me, the more you can learn about art in general, the better equipped you will be to build the kind of professional perspective you need to handle artists and their work and present it to the public. See as much firsthand art as possible: Go to exhibits, read, meet and talk to artists, ask questions, apprentice with an artist whose work you admire, visit museums, and keep your curiosity sharp and eyes open so that your artistic progress and learning never end.”

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Joe Molinaro: Potter

Richmond, Kentucky
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Who
As a child, Joe Molinaro was interested in and amused by strange objects, taking things apart, and collecting. He didn’t focus on art in high school, planning initially to major in special education in college. He changed his mind after a chance encounter with a Notre Dame graduate who described to him how much he had enjoyed pottery classes while in college. Halfway through his junior year at Ball State University, Molinaro visited the art department’s ceramics studio and began learning all he could about the equipment and pottery-making techniques while working after hours with students and faculty. He changed majors to pursue an art degree and, after graduating, entered Southern Illinois University at Carbondale’s MFA program to begin work as a ceramic artist. After graduate school, Molinaro moved his family to England, following another childhood interest—travel—and to work at a crafts gallery in London. His first job as an art teacher was in Florida, where he had access to a rich international community of art and culture. While spending Christmas vacation in South America, he visited Ecuador. Some unique pottery he saw in a hardware store there piqued his interest in the pottery-making traditions of the region. In 1991, he received a position teaching at Eastern Kentucky University and became a member of the Kentucky/Ecuador Partnership, a program connecting EKU faculty and students with colleges and universities in that South American country. Soon after that, he was offered the chance to exhibit some of his work in Ecuador and received a travel grant to lecture there. Impressed with his lectures, one school requested that he return to Ecuador to teach during the summer. On the weekends, he began exploring the Amazon basin, on the lookout for examples of the region’s traditional pottery. He has returned to Ecuador regularly through Fulbright grants and other academic resources and has used this experience and his own work as an artist to develop a multi-faceted career as a potter, art teacher, travel writer, and cultural enthusiast.

What
“I divide my time among teaching, working in the studio and managing my exhibition schedule, and traveling. I write and research articles on art and culture, attend NCECA [National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts] and other conferences, and I spend a great deal of time applying for grants and preparing trips to the Amazon.”

When
“I don’t really have a typical day in terms of hours, except for my teaching schedule. I would rather have too much going on and deal with the struggle than not have enough to do and be bored. I try to fill my day balancing all of my interests. I usually spend the summer traveling.”
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How
“Balancing my work as an artist and an educator, it’s difficult to find the time for my own work, but I always try to maintain activity as a working artist by setting yearly production goals and maintaining gallery exhibition schedules. In my cultural research, the biggest challenges are usually cost-related. To fly into the jungle, a 40-minute flight usually costs more than the flight from the USA, so you can imagine the logistics of getting to the Amazon. I receive most of my support from grants and use this to hire guides, purchase supplies, and charter planes and canoes for excursions. I am on the Board of Directors for NCECA and serve as their conference planner. I also have to find a good balance for dedicating time to students who are working toward their BFA in ceramics. As an adviser, I try to use my experience as a model of how to work as a professional artist.”

Why
“Working as an artist is about learning the differences between yourself and others. When a potter puts together a design, it’s always going to be a kind of abstraction of what they see and do every day. Learning from the cultural traditions of others makes this process a much more humble method of seeing yourself and your own experience as it is connected to the world. I want to tell students, ‘Here’s a worldview possessing a completely different value system. Now build your own perspective to encounter and include this new system of value.’ It’s a perspective-building exercise.”

Getting There
“If you love doing something, then that should be license enough to keep on doing it. Eventually, someone will see it; help guide, nurture, and support it. This isn’t just about classes. You have to look inside yourself for that inspirational light and keep following it in whatever direction it takes you. Everybody deserves at least one passion, but not everyone takes the chances they have to seize it, follow it, and let it mature into something real. Those who do will watch their passions replicate and multiply. Students deserve passionate, hard-working professors. If I say my problem is not enough time in the studio, then I have to counter that by saying my other productive passions are being satisfied during that time, which actually makes it a really good problem to have. And at the end of the day, you can’t take everything so seriously. It’s important to have few expectations that others will find direct connections to your work. As my classes are often required for the art department, I just hope that something concerning how an artist works is carried over to the students. But you have to stir that passion in others by showing some of it in the classroom, because students can actually extract something of their teacher’s passion. My classes aren’t so much about facts and figures as they are about that general excitement. Passion is contagious like that, and it should be encouraged.”

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Susan Mullins: Artist-in-Residence

Berea, Kentucky
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Who
Susan Mullins Kwaronhia:wi is a Mohawk from the Kahnawake reserve in Canada who lives in Berea, Kentucky. She grew up learning the traditional songs, stories, dances, and crafts of her people, passed down from generation to generation before her. After college in New York and a visit to Kentucky 25 years ago, she began developing projects for schools based on Native American art and culture. She met Kentuckians Jennifer Rose and Judy Sizemore, who encouraged her to work with the Kentucky Arts Council artist-in-residence program. Mullins’ workshops take the riches of her heritage and turn them into an educational and artistic springboard for students, helping build awareness about history, cultural tolerance, environmental issues, and the traditions of her people. In addition to her work as an artist-in-residence, Mullins works as a professional artist, working with jewelry, beadwork, painting, and other crafts and performing traditional songs and dances around the region.

What
“I develop and present two types of programs for my students. The first is an in-school residency that includes four classes per day during a 5- to 20-day program, each class lasting about 45 minutes. I keep the same students through the whole program. The program centers on making jewelry, beadwork, painting, featherwork, weaving, and other traditional Native crafts, such as the dream catcher. At the end of these in-school courses there is a presentation—usually a dance, a musical piece, or a play—produced and performed by the class for the school and community. The second type of program is an outdoor Native American cultural village. I help organize six to eight stations, each featuring an artist from a different Native American tribe and a specific art form or aspect of Native culture. These include presentations of storytelling, dance, arts and crafts, and music. I plan these to be held in a park area or on the school grounds. Anywhere from 900 to 1,200 students participate, and artists come from all over the country. In addition to coordinating these programs throughout the state, and in accordance with standard curriculum as an artist-in-residence, I spend a good deal of my time perfecting these traditional art forms, as well as recording music and working in the shop casting jewelry and doing metalwork.”

When
“I don’t have an average day, really, but I divide my time between organizing these programs and working in my jewelry shop.”
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How
“A lot of the information I bring to a class is very new to students. In the first days of a class, I spend a lot of time breaking down the stereotypes kids usually have about Native Americans and our culture. Most kids don’t have a grasp of it yet. Some even react in a defensive or aggressive way, given what popular culture has shown them at home, in movies, and on TV. But by the time a program is finished, a lot of the same kids who had angry reactions in the beginning were coming up to me and giving me big hugs. They had learned real respect for their own heritage through the artistic and cultural traditions of other people. Whenever I return to a school or a class, a lot of the kids are ready with lots of new questions and stories to tell me about their own ancestors or family origins. They had learned new respect for their environment, convincing their families to try recycling or other measures. And even if I can only reach one child in a class, that’s worth everything.”

Why
“When I saw that I could develop a career educating people about something so close to me, I decided to go for it. I remember calling my mom after those first few programs and telling her, ‘Guess what I’m doing!’ It was really exciting to know I could take my own experiences and history and turn it into something that could directly benefit others, especially children.”

Getting There
“I spent nearly four years preparing these programs, researching every archive and resource available concerning my people’s history. Doing so gave me an extensive background of knowledge from which I could develop stories and projects. This is the best way to prepare for a project like this—maintain a deep background. Also, teachers should realize the value of storytelling and how different it is for kids than learning from books. You can directly communicate an idea or meaning through a story. Kids really appreciate and learn from the way you speak with them. And most importantly, remember that deep inside every person there is an artist. It’s just a matter of finding that thing that will open up the artist inside. I’ve seen the impact it has on a child when they see something grow out of their own creativity, especially when they’re able to share it with someone else. Look at what I’m doing—I’m expressing myself through my own particular education. Take in everything you can from your teachers so that you can have a depth of knowledge to express your own ideas.”

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Sarah Paulson: Sculptor

Burkesville, Kentucky
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Who
Sarah Paulson works as a sculptor and art teacher and lives on a farm by the Cumberland River in southcentral Kentucky. She works in a variety of media, including stone and woodcarving, various forms of casting, and fabric embellishment, and has traveled across Kentucky to make art with students as a roster artist for the Kentucky Arts Council. She manages the exhibition of her own work and leads professional development seminars for teachers. And she works the land as co-owner of Sylvanus Farm CSA, a certified organic farm that grows heirloom and gourmet varieties of vegetables, flowers, herbs, and fruit, plus beef and eggs, for sale to subscription customers.

What
“I divide my year between traveling throughout Kentucky during the school year as an artist-in-residence; working at a bustling organic farm business I have with my husband, who is a year-round farmer; and working on new sculptures for commissions and exhibitions. My artwork utilizes very traditional sculpture processes—mostly drawing, carved wood, stone, and some plaster casting. I also enjoy woodblock printing and fabric embellishment processes, such as batik. I also enjoy making costumes, as well as building on-site natural constructions that are temporary and meant to be affected by the elements. My sculptures are mostly figurative subjects. I am inspired by many Classical Greek poses but use many symbols, both animal and vegetative, that are significant to me personally. I also use subjects and concepts from my studies of various cultures and philosophical traditions.”

When
“There is almost no ‘average day’ for the whole year, but I certainly have routines. I do a lot of teaching: hands-on processes as well as art history and the art of other cultures. I work with students and teachers and enjoy developing art programming to enrich existing curriculum.”
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How
“The biggest challenge to being an artist is finding the time to do my work. My occupations may not present an example of what someone would choose ahead of time to undertake, yet I have an extremely rewarding life and enjoy many benefits through all of my various interests. Working with students gives me the excuse to create new hands-on processes, to study the art of cultures I had never delved into on my own, and to interact with young people on a regular basis, which is hilariously funny a lot of the time. Kids are about the only people I want to share modern art with, especially in the classroom. Working as a farmer gives me endless inspiration, teaching me every day about the vastness and complexity of our beautiful planet. I am in awe of the insects and plants and animals that I spend my day with in the field.”

Why
“I grew up in a very artistic household, and although my dad is a wood sculptor and art professor, I really never intended in the beginning to follow in his footsteps. I was very drawn to art and writing, and it was not until my foundation year in art school that I decided that three-dimensional art was the obvious choice. I had never until that point had a class in which I felt I was getting away with spending the whole time playing. Play is very essential to making art; with all of the hard work, there must also be an underlying feeling of absolute joy in order to propel you through the act of creating.”

Getting There
“My only advice is not to be afraid to go into each project with the whole of your focus and energy and make yourself enjoy even the difficult parts of it. Any creative work is about the process of creating. The final product is the thing you leave behind for the next idea.”

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Joel Pett: Editorial Cartoonist

Lexington, Kentucky
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Who
Joel Pett grew up in Bloomington, Indiana and Ibadan, Nigeria in West Africa. This early experience immersed in another culture, he says, shaped his interest in power and corruption and those who abuse their positions of authority. His family returned to the U.S. when he was in the 6th grade, and Pett felt like an outsider, becoming increasingly sympathetic with victims while simultaneously developing an anti-authoritarian political posture. He attended the University of Indiana in Bloomington, declaring a French major because, he says, he was nearly fluent in the language and wanted to take the minimum of classes needed to stay enrolled and take advantage of college perks like free movies, lectures, and intramural sports. Without finding much direction, he quit after three years. In his mid-20s, Pett decided to pursue his interest in political cartoons, placing his work in local, independent arts and culture magazines in Bloomington and living cheaply from freelancing. He found a full-time position at the Lexington Herald Leader in 1984, and in his fifth year as a professional cartoonist he was selected as one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. He went on to win a Pulitzer in 2000, and his work has been published in newspapers and magazines throughout the country, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. Other honors include a Global Media Award in 1995, the Robert F. Kennedy Award in 1999, and even a regional Emmy Award in 2006 for work he contributed to KET’s series The CommonHealth of Kentucky.

What/When
“I work six days a week, producing at least six cartoons—five for the Herald-Leader and one for USA Today. I also write a short weekly column for the Los Angeles Times. I usually spend Sunday researching newspapers, web sites, and blogs to get a sense of the current events and issues. Then I sketch out ideas for Monday’s USA Today and Tuesday’s Herald-Leader. I generally finish one or two cartoons a day. I also attend a weekly meeting at the Herald plus some special-issue meetings on occasion. I work at my studio in Jessamine County and sometimes at home.”

How
“It’s always challenging to stay well informed, given the sheer glut of information and misinformation available. And because of this, it becomes more and more difficult to re-present this information in a fresh, provocative way, because sometimes it’s already too sensationalized to bother fooling with it. Another big aspect of this career is finding a place where they will allow creative freedom. Lots of newspaper editors and publishers are overly cautious control freaks, and artists don’t thrive under them. One of the practical effects of my early nomination for the Pulitzer was that it gave me more control over my time and the production of my work. Still, I remain something of a critic of the prize system. It runs like everything else in this country—lots of rewards for the few, not much for the rest. The winners are often decided upon more by popularity and sales figures than anything else. Even though awards have brought me a little job security, as well as a more comfortable financial situation, I like to think I would have drawn the same cartoons whether they had been recognized by some far-off judges or not. Our obsession with ‘the best’ comes at a high price. Truth is, there are a handful of great cartoonists, and the rest of us are barely incrementally distinguishable.”

Why
“Cartooning jobs are very few and far between; there are about 90 other folks throughout the country who have professional positions like mine. Very few of them ever quit, and it’s a peculiar situation because the work is relatively unessential to a newspaper’s bottom line. We could all be fired tomorrow and the industry would make the same money for Wall Street. But without commentators and critics, life would be pretty boring. I was taught that journalism is supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Our media does a pretty lousy job of providing the right information for people to make decent judgments on events and issues, and so it becomes much more easy to become a critic of this information. Almost everything is enjoyable about this job. I feel fortunate to do work that I like, and thankful to have enjoyed the appreciation of my peers. This is really the best possible situation.”

Getting There
“In my opinion, the most important thing you can do to develop as an artist is to get out of the country. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to China, Hungary, Russia, much of Europe and Africa, and some of South America. Once, in Cameroon, I showed a cartoon depicting Norman Schwartzkopf in a less than flattering way, and a young student asked, ‘How does your military react to such criticism?’—as if the U.S. military would come knocking at your door for lampooning one of its own. Obviously, the Cameroon military was a different story. Free speech takes on a whole new meaning in places where you speak your mind under the threat of punishment. A career in the arts is a labor of love. What separates those who succeed from those who don’t is not talent—it is dedication and passion. Usually, the dividing line comes in the form of material comfort. If you get sucked into the materialism trap, you’re dead, because it will undermine your passion and replace it with the mundane stress of having to pay bills. If you want to be any kind of writer, musician, or artist, it helps not to get caught up in defining yourself by your possessions. Artists and writers need something to say. You can be a terrific technical artist and never go very far—it’s the undeniable voice that wells up through your work that is most vital. Finally, I personally don’t see a great future for newspapers, so I encourage budding cartoonists to study film, animation, video, and try to figure out how to master the medium of the future—the Internet.”

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Derrick Riley: Printmaker

Lexington, Kentucky
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Who
Derrick Riley began drawing at a very early age and was attracted to art classes in grade school and high school. He followed this interest to the University of Southern Illinois at Carbondale, where he received his BFA in drawing. Having attended a printmaking class as an undergraduate, Riley decided to combine his interest and skills in drawing with the techniques of woodblock printing. That led him to pursue and receive an MFA in printmaking at the University of Kentucky. In addition to pursuing his work as a printmaker, which has brought him success in juried exhibitions of new artists around the country, Riley helps manage UK’s Tuska Gallery, which exhibits the work of faculty members and graduate students at the university, including final MFA shows. He also teaches classes for UK’s art department.
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Riley is featured in the video segment “Printmaking: Derrick Riley” on the Spectrum of Art DVD (Part 3: 2d Media/Processes) in the Visual Arts Toolkit. You can also see samples of his work at his web site, dRock Press.

What
“I work primarily with woodcuts. I take an original idea from a drawing and make a sketch on a block. Then I refine the drawing and composition, carve out the piece, and produce a series of prints. I enter a lot of my work into juried shows throughout the country, especially group shows. The inspiration for my work comes from observations and reflections concerning societal flaws, as well as a general frustration I often encounter with current modes of corrupt communication, duplication and repetition of experiences, and competition.”
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When
“As a grad student, I usually spent about 10 to 12 hours in studio a day. Now that I’m working, I try to spend about five hours a day developing new pieces and about 10 to 12 per weekend.”

How
“Especially on larger projects, there is a great deal of physical exhaustion, endlessly carving into wood with a small chisel. Sore hands and battle scars. Combined with trying to make it as an artist, this can sometimes be the most frustrating part of my work.”
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Why
“I enjoy the constant task of trying to improve on each piece and being constantly willing to move forward. The most rewarding moments come when a piece turns out a success after a lot of hard work. Also, it’s crazy to recognize your work or see your name attached to a piece hanging in a gallery.”

Getting There
“You have to be willing to spend as much time as possible developing your process and technique. It’s like a marriage—the more time you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. You always have to renew your focus. Take time to get your work out to galleries and promote yourself in general. Research as much as possible about artists in your field and learn about how they work and solve problems. It’s also really good to find people in your field that you can work with or learn from directly. Look at colleges that offer focused courses in your specific field of interest. But most importantly, submerge yourself in your inspiration—inspiration can come from anywhere.”

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Sandy Sasso: Elementary School Art Teacher

Murray, Kentucky
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Who
Sandy Sasso, a professional artist and an art teacher at North Calloway Elementary School in Murray, Kentucky, became interested in art and drawing while growing up in North Carolina near Charlotte. In the 1960s, there were no professional art teachers in her area and no art instruction courses available in the local public schools. Following her own interest in pursuing the arts as a career, she entered the art program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. There she received what she calls a “classical” training, learning drafting and sculpture techniques and developing an early sense for spatial arrangement and three-dimensional design while working with live subjects. She majored in painting and printmaking and, after receiving her BFA, realized that she had taken enough arts education courses to obtain her teaching certificate within a semester. She worked as an artist-in-residence and took a European tour for several months, after which she returned to North Carolina to apply to graduate schools and teach. She entered the MA program at Murray State University in Kentucky in 1980, where she continued to study for her degree while teaching at local schools and developing her own painting and drawing skills. After five years as an artist-in-residence for the Kentucky Arts Council, she began teaching at North Calloway Elementary. She divides her time between the classroom and her own studio.

You can see samples of her work at SandyMillerSasso.com.
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What
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“My typical day during the school year is rather regimented and focused upon programs for students, often requiring more than the average school day time period—especially when we’re working on a special project, like the international exchange program we participated in with a school in Japan. I work on lesson plans and spend most of the day with my students and other teachers. But I try to balance my work as a teacher with time in the studio, which I usually get to do at night, on the weekends, and in the summer. Most of my work is based upon personal experience and my own perspective concerning what’s happening in the world. I like to use music and writing to motivate and inspire my work, and I try to take as much time as I can to develop themes through other media and apply them to a series of new paintings.”
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When
“During the school year, I spend 40 to 50 hours a week preparing lessons and teaching in the classroom. The topics we work on aren’t too advanced, but I always try to keep new ideas running through the classroom, since I’m learning as much about art, being a working artist, as my students. I have to make the routine part of my life as interesting as possible. As for my work as an artist, ideally I try to spend two nights in the studio each week and maybe 12 hours on the weekends. During the summer, unless I’m preparing for a show, I will spend about 20 hours a week in my studio. I’ll go to the studio after lunch and work until 6:00 pm.”
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How
“I find that knowing how to balance time and energy between different tasks is the biggest challenge. The time I put into teaching during the school year usually takes away from the time I spend on my work. Being an artist and a teacher actually makes the routine tasks of each job much more interesting, but I have to focus on keeping a balance between each role I play. By continuing to make art, I often find much more energy to give to teaching. Even though it can be a real struggle dealing with art in the classroom and in the studio in a smaller community, trying to teach different aspects of art to students while developing my own work at the same time, I would feel like I was a fake, both as an artist and a teacher, if I didn’t work hard to give equal energy to both kinds of work.”
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Why
“As an artist and a teacher, I can either keep repeating the same ideas year after year or think of myself as a lifelong student, which I definitely prefer. I’ve taken lots of courses since receiving my master’s degree, received a second master’s degree in philosophy, and studied art history in Italy and Greece. As with my work as a teacher, all of these things have had a profound effect both on my teaching abilities and my work as an artist.”

Getting There
“For students who wish to become artists or art teachers, even though public schools don’t always push personal development as an artist as much as an educator, keep looking for ways to broaden your point of view about both crafts. And I think that getting your MFA isn’t an end in itself as much as it is a really good way to develop better habits and choices for the future of your work. Look for a studio outside of the classroom or school, continue taking different art classes and classes in other subjects, and find good teachers. I always encourage new art teachers to get to a point of professionalism with their art, especially if they wish to continue their own work while trying to teach kids at the same time. Otherwise you will lose touch with your art because of everything it takes to be an educator. If you can learn to balance your time and energy, even though both areas are separate, your teaching will benefit from your work as an artist and vice versa. Even though it’s really hard to keep developing as an artist, if you can get to that level of professionalism and make it a working part of you, then you’ll never stop being an artist, no matter how much time you get to spend in the studio.”

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Rebekka Seigel: Quiltmaker

Owenton, Kentucky
Who
Rebekka Seigel started making quilts more than 30 years ago when she learned that she was expecting her first child. Because her grandmother had made quilts all her life, she thought that was something mothers were supposed to do. Her grandmother taught her the basics, but Seigel left the traditional focus of her grandmother’s work to express her own personal view of the world through her quilts. Her work has been included in exhibitions around the United States, including the American Quilt Society’s annual competition, where she has won awards on three occasions. Seigel also represented the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the first American Quilt Competition, which honored the centennial of the Statue of Liberty. She continues to create new works while working as an artist-in-residence for Kentucky schools and teaching workshops for adults. Teaching and exhibitions have taken her across the U.S. and to Northern Ireland, where she was an artist-in-residence in 1995. She was chosen to create the prizes given as the Governor’s Awards in the Arts for 2000. Her work is also included in many books on contemporary quiltmaking and craft, including Phyllis George’s books on Kentucky and American craft, and her quilts are part of the permanent collection of the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort as well as the Evansville (Indiana) Museum of Art and Science.

You can see examples of her work at her web site, Quiltartz.

What
“I work with teachers to develop projects that enhance what they are teaching. I don’t just teach art techniques or create artwork with students in the classroom. The projects I create are usually a collaborative effort with teachers and take many different forms, depending upon the theme and whatever quiltmaking process we want to use. All of my classroom projects focus on the art of the quilt today and its importance in the lives of women throughout history. I think this is a very important discussion topic that provides an opportunity to explore the role of women then and now. In addition to my classroom work, I continue to create and exhibit new works.”

When
“I don’t really have a typical day or hourly schedule, but I usually spend about two-thirds of the year in classrooms around Kentucky, dedicating the rest of my time and some time on the road to my quilts. I also spend a lot of time promoting my work to various shows and galleries.”

How
“As an artist, the biggest challenge I face is maintaining financial stability. And making quilts is not a spontaneous art form, so it requires a lot of time and focus. Still, there’s exhilaration in watching an idea take on its physical shape. As an educator, being out of the studio and working on the road keeps me from focusing primarily on my own work. The most rewarding thing about all of this is that I am carrying on a traditional art form, developing its scope, and providing all sorts of artistic experiences for kids. In public schools, more and more art programs are changing to a purely lecture-based format—students don’t always get the chance to make art, even though they have to know how to write about it. There’s no real inspiration. The programs I present always have kids working directly with the needle and thread. The concentration needed for exercising their fine motor skills has a calming effect on them, and many find working with their hands to be an area of accomplishment that they were unaware of before.”

Why
“I find that no matter what I do, I always feel rewarded at the end, so long as I stay passionate about what I’m doing.”

Getting There
“Don’t expect to get rich—there is a different kind of wealth you find in this sort of work. Be prepared to work really hard, and be sure of your passion before you try forcing it. I am constantly amazed that I’m able to support myself through a lifestyle that is really for me. Six years ago I had the idea to build a body of work as an exhibit that I could loan to museums, instead of doing single exhibitions on commission. The exhibit’s theme concentrated on pioneering women, giving shape and color to their stories through each quilt and through a medium traditionally linked to ‘a woman’s work.’ I wanted to break through the traditional conceptions of women and quiltmaking and focus on the real history of women. The idea worked really well. I believe that finding your own passion is a reward in itself. With that, it is possible to do anything as an artist.”

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Adrian Swain: Folk Art Curator

Morehead, Kentucky
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Who
Adrian Swain grew up in England and moved to the United States in 1971. His exposure to contemporary folk art began with a chance encounter with Kentucky woodcarver and folk artist Edgar Tolson in 1973. Soon afterward, Swain followed his interest to Rowan County and began working as a potter. He spent five years as an artist-in-residence, moving in 1977 to Morehead, where he ran a gallery for four years in the early 1980s. In addition to displaying his own work, he met many artists in the area who were looking for a place to exhibit their work and began to open his space to other folk artists. Morehead State University had also acquired a substantial collection of folk art and asked Swain to serve as a part-time curator of the collection. He helped develop the program into the Kentucky Folk Art Center, a museum and art center that houses a permanent collection and acquires and promotes rotating exhibitions of folk artists. Since coming to work at MSU in 1987, Swain has overseen the growth of the center’s permanent collection to more than 900 pieces and has produced numerous exhibits on-site as well as traveling exhibits for other cultural institutions. Swain has written extensively on Kentucky folk art and is a frequent guest writer for Arts Across Kentucky magazine.

Works from the Kentucky Folk Art Center are included on the Kentucky Virtual Art Museum CD-ROM.

What
“Early on [at the Kentucky Folk Art Center] there was a very broad variety of work. I was taking care of every element of the collection, as well as the center’s development. I was also experimenting with methods of organization and management, since I began from scratch and with no staff. At first I cast a much wider net concerning the types of work to include in the collection. And while most curators focus on the exhibition of specific works for museum programming, I still manage the entire permanent collection, staying on top of this new field of folk art, which is constantly changing and developing. I recognize that my work has a very interpretive nature. By that I mean that I always try to present these elements of material culture in a way that might induce new thoughts and fresh insights rather than a completely predetermined set of meanings and ideas. I work directly with gallery layout, lighting, coordinating spatial arrangements, gallery upkeep—these factors directly affect the way a visitor sees and interprets the work at hand. I write profiles of artists and descriptions of artwork, and I focus on the accuracy and relevance of the text. These aspects of exhibition presentation are more like stage management. I try to set the stage for viewers to embark on their own journey of discovery, rather than guiding them in how to see and think about a piece. And I spend a lot of time collaborating with other artists, collectors of folk art, other curators, and funding partners.”

When
“I usually work about eight to nine hours a day, but the times and days vary in pattern. Sometimes I work nights, sometimes weekends. My tasks vary from day to day as well, from painting walls to visiting artists and collectors to writing applications for grants to organizing new exhibitions.”

How
“Some of the more routine tasks, while necessary, are the least interesting parts of the job—bookkeeping and writing grant applications, etc. The more left-brained tasks are numerous and varied and often frustrating. Though building exhibits and maintaining the center require this kind of work, it’s always combined with the more enjoyable aspects of aesthetic arrangement and interpretation. However, there is a nice balance between intuitive and intellectual demands.”

Why
“It’s wonderful being able to get visitors to look at new art and to ask their own questions about it. We’re enabling people to get involved in their own aesthetic experiences. The only value in displaying someone’s art is if there’s some way to get an audience to recognize something universal in it that allows for an experiential connection. Too many people are stuck with an idea of how something ‘ought’ to be or look. They judge traditional technical skill above an appreciation of new perspectives and more casual techniques. Folk art, in the end, is art, plain and simple. My job involves all of the fundamental questions about what attention we should pay to art, such as ‘What is art?’ My work as a curator involves coaxing people to open their eyes to something they might otherwise overlook, or which they are as yet unexposed to, helping break down and challenge their assumptions. Extending this mission to children—making these aesthetic experiences accessible to young people while doing it in a responsible way—allows them to make up their own minds. That is essential. There are only a few ways to do it right and far too many ways to do it wrong.”

Getting There
“A passion and fascination for the material is quite necessary. Training and degree programs only go so far. Without a real respect, reverence, or awe for what you are doing, then you’re just turning a sausage grinder. One must possess their own curiosity. You can’t teach someone to care about these things. Courses can teach method, techniques, resources; but without that soul element, it’s nothing. People come into this work from all over. The only real training comes from experience and seeing for themselves, from the ground up, behind the scenes. Volunteer in a local museum, art center, historical society, or historic home. While working with a group, you’ll learn just as much, if not more, than you ever will if you’re just looking at it from the outside. An effective museum staff has a collaborative institutional culture. Many staff members play a part, have a hand in, and take ‘ownership’ of each project. As a volunteer, you get to see all of the levels working to bring a show together: the artwork, the artist, the artist’s life, the artist’s connection to the gallery, the gallery setup, and so on. That’s how you’ll decide if this is the world for you. Summer internships can give you a great amount of guidance and an inside look. Then you’ll see that a museum is an interpretive forum where ideas are explored and conceptions are challenged. It should only give clues to someone’s own personal aesthetic experience. Otherwise a visitor can never learn from what’s hanging on the walls. And you must be able to step away from your own convictions and to keep an open mind. It’s all about the communication of ideas while you develop a real basis of trust—especially when you have to convince artists that you wish to record their work as opposed to misinterpret or rob them of it. A respect and appreciation for difference throughout the world is most necessary in the art world.”

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Kenneth vonRoenn Jr.: Glass Artist

Louisville, Kentucky
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Who
Kenneth vonRoenn Jr. began his career in glass in 1970 after suffering an athletic injury that prevented him from entering law school. He took a job at the Louisville Art Glass Studio facility, starting at the ground level by performing basic cleaning and maintenance duties. The job allowed him access to both the facilities and the staff, and he soon began working after hours in the studio, developing a fundamental knowledge of glass-making techniques through a more personalized training. In 1981, he earned a master’s in architecture from Yale University, then went on to work as an architect and glass designer and to teach part-time at the University of Kentucky School of Architecture. VonRoenn considers his architectural degree a critical step in his development as an artist because it helped him understand architectural fundamentals, with a focus on art’s relation to architecture. In 1991, vonRoenn bought Louisville Art Glass Studio and renamed it Architectural Glass Art, Inc. He serves as head designer and president, managing a staff of about 30, and has expanded the company, redirecting its concentration to focus on new roles for glass in architecture. The studio has become recognized nationally and internationally for its innovative application of new technologies in the fields of design, architectural art, and glass making. Meanwhile, vonRoenn has executed hundreds of projects around the world—including the world’s largest glass sculpture, which crowns the top of Wachovia Bank in Charlotte, North Carolina. His work has been published in numerous books and in every major design magazine.
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What
“I perform a wide range of tasks as both president of the studio and as the head designer. I participate directly in every aspect, from designing of a project to communicating with clients and project assistants; overseeing production while working with our craftspeople; making presentations; keeping abreast of emerging trends and technologies; and doing general business work, such as estimates, contracts, bookkeeping, scheduling, and correspondence—though thankfully other people do most of the business stuff.”

When
“I don’t really have a typical day or a set schedule of hours, but most of my time is dedicated to the design and production of new work.”

How
“Over time, this is what I’ve discovered, both in maintaining a business and a career as an artist: In the beginning stages it is most important that you maintain your integrity as an artist with a vision. There is a real pressure to survive while you cling to your own goals and methods, and there is a huge temptation to accept work and influences on your work that are below your standards just for a paycheck. You have to consider protecting your vision as an investment and forego easy roads to financial ease, because once you minimize or weaken your own passion, it will undermine the development of your reputation as an artist. But you have to also realize that if you stick to your own standards, the limits of what you can do won’t be realized until the future. In the mid-career stages, it is important that you keep a consistent focus on the direction of your work, while at the same time maintaining a wide-ranging education of emerging trends and technological developments in your field. Staying consistent in one direction ensures the development of your work into something both authentic and true to your passion. Also, this keeps you from becoming a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. Lots of artists crave instant success, but it’s important to realize that people who succeed usually take a lifetime of hard work and commitment to get there. The newness of a few early successes fades quickly, so it is really key that you always keep your focus intent and your vision true. In the later years of your career, all of this focusing will allow you to be very selective in the kinds of projects you attempt, which allows you to really expand the horizons of your work because your foundation is very solid.”

Why
“I enjoy applying the elements of art and design to the functions of architecture, as well as working at the cutting edge of the development and application of new technologies. AGA is really expanding what glass can do to the whole composition of a building or other structure.”

Getting There
“In any design-oriented business, once your organization has grown large enough, add people who complement your skills. In other words, know what you don’t do well and turn that over to someone you know can do it better. This is the key to building any good organization: knowing what to expect of your own work and the work of your peers. Once you have defined your role within the organization, you must continue your own education in that area. For instance, as the creative director of AGA, I have to stay current concerning technological advancement and trends in art and architecture, as well as continue my own experience with new design ideas. But you have to know when you need to teach yourself something and when you should listen to yourself instead. And the most important quality you have to recognize is your own passion. Every individual should be really honest with him- or herself and ask all the hard questions about their own passion. To sustain yourself in the arts is very different from any other kind of career, because you have to be motivated by your passion first and foremost. It is this passion that provides the strength to get through the really hard years. If it isn’t there, then you have to ask yourself if you really have to be an artist or you will feel empty. But many people don’t understand that you can still appreciate and practice art and enjoy it without having to rely on it for a living. I think it’s necessary for everyone to find the appropriate place for art in their life, and this doesn’t always mean becoming a practicing artist.”

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Gray Zeitz: Small-Press Owner

Monterey, Kentucky
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Who
Gray Zeitz’s interest in the art of printing and bookmaking began while he was a student at the University of Kentucky. As an apprentice to Carolyn Hammer at UK’s King Library Press, he learned the old-fashioned techniques of typesetting, printer operations, and materials as well as the history of printing. In 1974, he moved to Monterey, Kentucky, in Owen County, to join the burgeoning local craft community. With a small press given to him by his mentor, Mrs. Hammer, and a few sets of type, he began work on printing his first book, Bluegrass, a collection of poems by his friend Richard Taylor. Zeitz’s main goals are the publication of the best selection of contemporary Kentucky literature and the design of books that look more like original works of art than mass-produced objects. He continues to run Larkspur Press in the same old-fashioned way to this day and has produced works for numerous local, national, and international clients.

Larkspur Press is featured in Program 517 of the KET series Kentucky Life below.

What
“I spend my day at the press and coordinating publications with artists, authors, and other clients. I solicit manuscripts and build the design concept with the author. This includes any ideas concerning illustration, which I print using a woodblock or engraving made by another, contracted artist. I operate two early-1900s-style presses. When in the production phase, I set all the type by hand and spend most of my time readying the press. This means inking and taking care of regular maintenance, as well as the time it takes to do the actual printing. It usually takes about two years for a book to be published. From time to time I also have an apprentice working with me during the time it takes to make a book.”

When
“My day usually begins at 7:30 am and ends at dusk.”

How
“My biggest challenge is keeping the business going. Chances on first authors don’t always work out the way we intend. We promote our books by word of mouth and through a small newsletter that we mail to a few subscribers that lists all of our publications, so we don’t really have the same promotional resources as the big publishing companies. But the finished book is always something much more unique for our clients. We sell special editions to collectors that we construct with handmade paper and binding and that cost quite a bit more. We also sell more affordable editions to our regular customers and to bookstores throughout the country.”

Why
“I began at UK, publishing a literary magazine called Handsel. I always wanted to be a publisher, and when I began working at the King Library I immediately fell in love with lead type. The whole idea of giving a work of literature a unique external beauty through design fascinated me. And when I began working with Kentucky authors, I really became interested in giving the literary work of our state a beauty all its own. Everything about this job is rewarding. It’s all fun. I couldn’t have picked a more enjoyable job. This work connects me to authors, illustrators, and other artists throughout the world, and allows me to bring the beauty of this collective work together in a finished product.”

Getting There
“Patience is a necessity in this business. Whenever I take on an apprentice, their first day is spent at the table, setting type, which can be pretty tedious work. By the end of the day they know immediately if this work is for them. If you’re interested in publishing of any kind, really look at the books on the shelf—try to get a sense of their design, or even the lack of it. If you’re interested in learning about running a traditional press, there are still a few good university presses in operation, and some smaller presses take on apprentices. Working with books, especially in today’s world of publishing, it is extremely important to understand the older techniques of bookmaking. Understanding the way letters, words, and lines rest on a page has a direct effect upon the design, content, style, and experience of a work of literature. This is what separates the mass-produced copy from a fully developed idea of a book as a beautiful piece of art.”

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100 Ways To Make a Living in the Visual Arts

Here is a list of 100 occupations related to the visual arts. Research and discuss how each profession helps in the everyday production and presentation of art. Find out how someone would prepare (academically, professionally, etc.) for a career in one of these arts-related professions. Can you think of even more?manikin
agent * anthropologist * appraiser * architect * art historian * arts administrator * art supplies manufacturer * art supplies dealer * art therapist * assemblage artist * auctioneer * basketmaker * beader * blacksmith * broker * buyer * calligrapher * cartographer * cartoonist * chemist * cinematographer/videographer * collagist * collector * computer artist * costume designer * critic * curator * director * dollmaker * draftsman * dyer * electronic graphics designer * embroiderer * engraver * environmental artist * event planner * exhibit juror * fashion designer * fiber artist * forge operator * framer * fund-raiser * furniture maker * gallery owner * glassblower * graphic artist * henna artist * interior decorator * illustrator * installation technician * jewelry designer * kiln operator * landscape architect * layout artist * lighting designer * logo designer * makeup artist * marketer * mechanical engineer * metalworker * modelmaker * movie theater operator * museum docent or guide * packaging designer * packer/shipper * painter * photographer * potter/ceramist * preservationist * print artist * printer/publisher * producer * projectionist * publicist * quarryman * quilter * researcher * restorer * seamstress * set designer * scrapbooker * scrimshaw artist * sculptor * sheep rancher * sign maker * software engineer * special effects designer * stained-glass artist * stonemason * studio owner * tattoo artist * teacher * tour guide * video artist * wax sculptor * weaver * web site designer * woodcarver * writer

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