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The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), a national arts data and research organization, has collected and analyzed data from over 200,000 arts graduates from across North America since 2008. SNAAP data have helped change the national conversation on the value of an arts degree. The U College of Fine Arts regularly partners in SNAAP's efforts in surveying our own graduates and we are grateful to our alumni who have participated. Each survey gives us deeper insight into how best to serve our students. 

Recently, SNAAP released a special report examining what factors lead arts graduates to stay in the arts throughout their professional careers. The report clearly revealed that students are more likely to work professionally in the arts if they have created a network and completed an arts-based internship during their time in school. 

This is not news to us. We have long known the value of internships and professional networks and this data just further confirms our understanding of what students need to successfully transition in the arts! The College of Fine Arts continually invests in developing a strong internship program and providing opportunities and information to maximize professional success of our students, from experiential learning opportunities to building professional networks. Since 2012, the CFA has hired student interns to learn about various aspects of arts administration and strengthen their professional networks. And in 2013, interns assisted in the creation of our award-winning ArtsForce program. 

We encourage you to get to know your many professional resources.

 

Here are just a few of the ways CFA invests in student success and professional development:

 

Full-time CFA Internship Coordinator

In partnership with the CFA Undergraduate Student Affairs team and the University’s Internship Council, our full-time Internship Coordinator, Kate Wolsey, facilitates the development and expansion of internships, acts as the college’s primary contact for internship coordination, and assists in the coordination of the award-winning ArtsForce program. 

 

Career Treks to local and regional arts organizations

During the academic year, ArtsForce leads regular Career Treks to prominent local and regional arts organizations so students can meet arts professionals in their work environments, and experience firsthand the day-to-day operations and innerworkings of fine arts companies. 

 

Employment and internship opportunities  

Our Internship Coordinator regularly meets with employers to create opportunities and promote internships in the community. Open opportunities are shared with students through a weekly post on the ArtsForce Canvas community. All internships are vetted using the National Association of College and Employers (NACE) standards.

 

Helping students articulate the value of their degree

In the ArtsForce Canvas community, we regularly post relevant information that helps students articulate the value of their arts degree, become internship ready and learn how to network. Such topics include, how to conduct an informational interview, resources for improving your resumé and cover letter, ways to get involved in the art community on and off campus, and connecting students with mentors in their field. Check out all the past programs and events here! 

Informational Interviews with community professionals

“ArtsForce Asks” is a Finer Points blog series that highlights informational interviews conducted by ArtsForce interns with arts professionals. This series aims to provide CFA students with internship and career advice from the employer’s perspective, and illuminate the varied paths to success artists take.   


Annual Networking Event 

ArtsForce hosts an Annual Networking event that brings arts employers to campus, giving students a chance to network, receive professional guidance, ask questions, and connect with fellow CFA students across disciplines.

 

Student interns reflect and share their experiences  

Once students complete internships, we are eager to share their advice with their peers. Starting this fall, “Insights from an Intern,” a new Finer Points blog series, will highlight exceptional internship experiences of CFA students, as well as their advice for students seeking similar opportunities. Check out the first student profile here!

 

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Emeri Fetzer 

As members of the Michie Jazz Quintet, premier jazz chamber ensemble here at the University of Utah, reached their second and final year in their unique configuration, it seemed the right moment to mark their time spent playing together with something lasting, something tangible. 

Supported through an endowment generously made by the James R. and Nanette S. Michie Foundation, the group's five members had many wonderful opportunities to collaborate in a laboratory setting, and maintained a rigorous public performance schedule during the school year. As a result,  Anaïs Chantal Samuels (vocals), Evan Taylor (trumpet), Tony Elison (piano), Alicia Wrigley (bass, vocals), and Matt Wilson (drums) cultivated a unique and synergistic sound. 

“The thing that was the most powerful to me was to have a recurring group of people I love and trust and that we had the opportunity to have an ongoing journey over a long period of time...I really felt like I grew alongside Evan, Anaïs, Tony and Matt. I will miss that experience so much” 
- Alicia Wrigley 

 “As their coach this year, I encouraged them to document the sound and style of the group that they had forged together, as well as create recordings that can serve as samples for auditions, publicity, and for posterity," explained John Petrucelli, visiting assistant professor in the U School of Music.  

Before they all graduated (and before COVID-19 drastically changed their final semester), they came together to record. “My favorite part of recording the EP was being able to share that space with my friends during our final year at the University of Utah. We've all worked really hard to get to where we are musically and it was really nice to see that all come together and to have something documented that demonstrates our passion for music,” vocalist Anaïs Chantal Samuels reflected. 

As Petrucelli describes it, the Michie Quintet's EP is a study in contrast. "In the span of three compositions, the ensemble moves between multiple styles, meters, and soloists. Anais Chantal Samuels voice is featured on a wonderful old ballad entitled "Till There Was You," while Evan Taylor's arrangement of "Bloomdido" nods to the cutting edge contemporary jazz approach of Rudresh Mahanthappa and Adam O'Farrill. Alicia Wrigley and Matt Wilson have a wonderful rhythmic dialogue throughout "April in Paris," while Tony Elison's piano playing plays provocateur throughout the session," he said. 

“We had to set up a mad labyrinth of sound panels as we tried to minimize bleed between microphones. It felt like the adult version of building a blanket fort, and will be a mental image I’ll always remember,” described bass player Alicia Wrigley.

The experience not only resulted in a strong final product, it also taught them valuabe things about the music business. “I hope that our students have learned that at the heart of recording is the craft of negotiation. Between musicians, producers, composers, arrangers, studio engineers, photographers, videographers, we convene spontaneously and improvise the process as we go. Recordings highlight strengths and reveal weaknesses, leaving a remembrance of ourselves in a particular time, place and feeling, pointing to future musical ideas and passageways,” Petrucelli said.

Undoubtedly, the Michie Quintet shaped its five committed members beyond the classroom, bringing high level professional experience, and friendships to boot. 

“I can honestly say that being in this program has shown me how to act as a professional in music. I started this program in my second year and had no idea what I was doing or how to go about a career in music. From that I learned the business side of things which I now take on when working on gigs that I've booked outside of school,”  Samuels explained.

“Socially, I have to say that the Michie group has been the highlight of my college career. When I first joined this group, all of the members in the band were older than me and took me under their wings to show me all the things music has to offer and helped me build my confidence as a vocalist which was something I really struggled with. Two years ago before performances my stage fright would get the best of me and I really doubted myself but through time I was able to value myself.”

“The thing that was the most powerful to me was to have a recurring group of people I love and trust and that we had the opportunity to have an ongoing journey over a long period of time," Wrigley added. "So much of the work that we do is with pick-up groups—it both showcases our versatility and pays our bills. But playing with a recurring group, having a musical home to come back to and experiment in, that was special. I really felt like I grew alongside Evan, Anaïs, Tony and Matt. I will miss that experience so much” 

Check out "The Michie Sessions" here! 

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Merinda Christensen 

The 7th Annual ArtsForce Networking Event that took place on March 7th displayed the strength and dynamic of the arts from both students and professionals. 

ArtsForce is a student-led organization under the supervision of CFA Internship Coordinator, Kate Wolsey, that strives to create opportunities that help students develop skills needed for professional growth during and after college. During this event, local artists from film, music, theatre, art, and dance came to speak to students across the College of Fine Arts about how to prepare for a successful and fulfilling career in the arts. 

“The biggest lesson I learned from this event is that community is important…Collaborating with people from other fields in your community might spark ideas that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. I was inspired to find ways that my art could enrich or help others.”
– Kira Sincock, Entertainment Arts and Engineering Major, Drawing Minor

This event started out with a panel of local art professionals (and College of Fine Arts alumni!) David HabbenKylie Howard, and Camille Washington. They discussed times when collaborating with another professional changed their work process, what they do every day that contributes to their success, and how the community has been important to them as they continue their career, including where students can look to build their own community. Their experiences and advice were insightful as they emphasized the importance of doing your best and recognizing where your art and skills can and will take you. The focus of the panelists was to address how to succeed and being true to your work even through the tough times you will experience as an artist. 

Important takeaways: 

  • Kylie Howard communicated to the students that it’s important to pick yourself up, even when it gets hard because you are valuable to your community and workforce. She also mentioned that you don’t have to figure it all out right now, discover your strengths and make it work for you! 
  • David Habben emphasized that there will be times where you are in a rut – times will be hard. But, to find a way to take a risk, even when things are hard, that is the best time to take those risks. 
  • Finally, Camille Washington wanted to present the importance of how valuable your skills are – stay engaged in what you’re interested in and always know you will be able to find a path to apply your knowledge and skills as you reach out and build the community you want to see.  

During the Networking Luncheon, which followed our panel, students had the opportunity to communicate and connect with local artist of different arts disciplines. Students gained support and guidance as they were able to articulate the value of their arts degree in a professional setting. Positive feedback highlighted the importance of this event and how it was beneficial to each student that came. 

“The Networking Event helped me build my networking skills…I have new contacts to help me start to build my career before I graduate. Something that used to be so  intimidating is more doable.” 
– Katie McLaughlin, Instrumental Music Education; Oboe Performance Major 

The 7th Annual Networking Event created opportunities and ideas for students preparing for a career in the arts. We want to thank the panel, local art professionals, University of Utah faculty, staff, and students for joining us this year. CFA Students, don’t forget to join ArtsForce for up-to-date information about internships and career related opportunities, ways to get more involved with the arts on and off campus, and more!

*Author Merinda Chrinstensen is an Instrumental Performance major in the School of Music, with an emphasis in harp. She is an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Anastasia Briana Drandakis 

What do University of Utah theatre students do in the wake of canceled and postponed performances amidst a call for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic? They brush up on their Shakespeare through video conference calls. 

Self-Isolation Shakespeare is a collaborative, student-led effort to read through Shakespeare’s canon on Zoom three times a week, with an open invitation for the community to watch actors of all levels participate. The talent range includes theatre students, department faculty with impressive resumes, and even professionals working outside of the university that come together to perform these pieces while socially isolating. All the readings are recorded for YouTube and the shows vary between Shakespeare’s tragedies, comedies and historical shows to make each genre available to their growing audience. 

Connor Johnson, a junior in the Department of Theatre’s Actor Training Program, was inspired to start Self-Isolation Shakespeare after viewing a similar project that Professor Sarah Shippobotham shared with his class during the early rise in global quarantining. “The Show Must Go Online” created by Robert Myles are weekly readings on Zoom of the complete plays of Shakespeare by a global cast, in the order they were believed to have been written. Johnson thought there was no reason why the students of the University of Utah couldn’t undergo a similar project, and through the support of fellow students and department faculty, he was able to create a social media presence for the performances so that anyone in the theatre community could access the series. 

 “I realized the other thing this could be is a great opportunity for students to act alongside professionals or professors,” said Johnson. “People who students can’t always easily work with just because of the nature of professional productions.”

The professional theatre faculty of the University of Utah has already participated alongside their students in several of the show readings, including Robert Scott Smith who played Prospero in "The Tempest," Alexandra Harbold who played Mark Antony in "Julius Caesar," and Sarah Shippobotham who played Richard III in "Richard III." Johnson has also seen a mix of outside interest in the project, including actors with working credits from local professional theatres, New York, the West End of London, and The Globe Theater. 

“People have said that it was actually great to be able to ‘look over my script last night’ or 'to prepare for this role the other day, because I was thinking about something other than the news.’ They really latched onto the project, and have really given their thought and time and creativity, which has been wonderful to watch.”

While this series helps to bring the University of Utah theatre community closer during this time, it’s also an opportunity for those involved to broaden their familiarity with a genre of classic works that are continuously produced in the modern entertainment industry in various forms.


“There’s something about Shakespeare that is endlessly entertaining and brings endless variety in ways that most other plays don’t,” said Johnson, who believes that knowledge of this material can be generally useful as a theatre student. “Somehow his plays have managed to maintain interest for hundreds of years, and I think in a more pragmatic sense, for any actor that’s going out into the acting world, Shakespeare is a huge percentage of work that you might get. Even if you don’t want to be a classical actor, every regional company does Shakespeare once a season or once every two seasons." 

In addition to practicing classical theatre, this series is also a practice session in performing for digital cameras, microphones, and the general process that it takes to produce a successful piece of live web content. 

“It’s freeing in some ways that you can do things with your voice that you can’t really do on stage,” said Johnson, describing the new acting possibilities he’s observed that performing scenes via Zoom can spark. “It picks up much more subtlety than your allowed to have when you're on stage in a big auditorium. It’s also really fun to see other people doing that, and picking up on that, and it kind of adds this new layer of possibility and creativity.”

Johnson gives credit to an entire team of peers that have volunteered time to shape the current state of the production, including a designated “stage-manager” for the productions (Kiersten Farley), social media managers (Lexie Thomsen and Liam Johnson), and an assistant producer (Jessica Graham). romeo and julietPoster design Lexie Thomsen

Self-Isolation Shakespeare performances are scheduled every Tuesday at 10 a.m. (MST), Thursday at 10 a.m. (MST), and Sunday at noon (MST) through a Zoom conference link posted on the official Facebook page the day of the scheduled production. Show and cast lists are announced a week in advance on the official Facebook page, and anyone can submit to be cast in the Zoom performances by filling out a Google Doc form asking their preferred contact information, acting background, and familiarity with Shakespeare’s works. The recorded performances are archived on the official Self-Isolation Shakespeare YouTube page as the series progresses.

“I think that something this project made me realize is that we’re all kind of in this together,” said Johnson, reflecting on the support that has been felt by the theatre community for the project so far. “People have said that it was actually great to be able to ‘look over my script last night’ or 'to prepare for this role the other day, because I was thinking about something other than the news.’ They really latched onto the project, and have really given their thought and time and creativity, which has been wonderful to watch.”

Published in Finer Points Blog

MAKING ART WORK is a series that taps into the knowledge and experience of seasoned creatives from our community and beyond for the benefit of our students. 

Erica MacLean is a photographer, choreographer, director, and performer based in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Ms. MacLean began training at the start of college, where faculty and staff encouraged her to pursue dance as a full-time career. Since then, she has received training in Ballet and Modern Dance at Glendale Community College, Arizona State University, and the University of Utah School of Dance, where she received her BFA. She has performed in the works of Mariah Maloney, Ihsan Rustem, Guy Thorne, Eric Handman, Rebecca Rabideau, Quitalyn Cheramie, Katie Noletto, Elijah Labay, Brianna Lopez, and Patrick Delcorix to name a few. Along the way, MacLean stumbled upon an interest in photography as she attempted to document her choreographic work. She now photographs many fashion and fine art projects/editorials, and has published work in Harper’s Bazaar Poland, Vogue Poland, Vogue Italia, Theme Mag, Floated and many others. She has also recently photographed NYFW FW20 for several designers, including Claudia Li, Collina Strada, and Kim Shui. For all of her projects,  MacLean hopes to combine the landscape of human architecture and fashion in an attempt to allow others to create a subjective narrative. 

Have you always been equally interested in photography and dance? What affected your decision to get your bachelor's degree in dance? 


I haven’t always been interested in both dance and photography, and I’ve definitely never focused on either in equal ratios. When I really love something, I’ll spend 70% of my time on it and the 30% left over gets taken up by other distractions. When I was at the University of Utah, I mostly worked to develop choreographic projects and dance, and photography was just something I picked up to enhance what I was already creating. I wanted to do the best I could to document my work, so I picked up a camera and started shooting. 

I got my degree in dance because at the time, it was what made me happiest. I, of course love movement, but the closeness and support of the community was what really made me shift over. I felt secure knowing everyone around me was on a similar path.  When I look back, the most valuable things I gained from the U was how to openly view/respect art from all angles, and to stop making work for the sole purpose of pleasing other people. I really learned how to vocalize why I did/didn’t like certain work, why/how a work is important, and if you made something it’s okay if someone didn’t like it. You made choices based on what was important to you, not them. Don’t sweat it so much.  

How do dance and photography blend in your everyday life now? erica1

Currently, dance comes into my life as choreography in photographs. I’m mostly photographing for creative fashion and editorial content, and less “dance” type photos. When I’m developing these types of images, it’s literally in the same way that I’d create a choreographic work. I turn on some music, think it up, and focus on texture, color, light, shapes, and mood. I always think of this thing my professor, Ellen Bromberg, once told me. She said “You are creating the world we are going to live in for a little while. What goes into it?” This informs almost all of my work. 

To be clear, at the moment, I’m not dancing all of the time. Dance in NYC is VERY expensive, and I only take class when I can afford it. In a way, I’ve blended the two because I love and want to do both, but also I’ve had to make sacrifices to sustain a living. 

When I look back, the most valuable things I gained from the U was how to openly view/respect art from all angles, and to stop making work for the sole purpose of pleasing other people. I really learned how to vocalize why I did/didn’t like certain work, why/how a work is important, and if you made something it’s okay if someone didn’t like it. You made choices based on what was important to you, not them. Don’t sweat it so much.  

 

What prompted your decision to move to New York City? What has been the most unexpected aspect of your life and career there?

I moved to NYC because there was a huge opportunity for both dance and photography. I was interested in photographing fashion, but I also wanted to live in a city with a large dance community. It was a pretty obvious choice.  The most unexpected aspect of moving to NYC was that it’s actually pretty affordable to live here. That’s about it! Everything, for the most part, is as expected.  

How did you get connected to Ballet West as an intern? What did you gain there? 

When I was at Ballet West, I was working alongside Beau Pearson specifically as his photography intern. I was a follower of his on Instagram, and loved the technical lighting aspects of his images, so I reached out. I basically worked with him on whatever projects he had going on at the time, and this happened to be “The Shakespeare Suite” and various portraits of dancers from the company. I shot alongside Beau for many rehearsals, promotional photoshoots, and dress rehearsals at the Capitol Theatre. Because of this, I gained a ton of insight in retouching images in photoshop. I learned to apply the techniques he uses ( frequency separation/dodge&burn) in my own photos, and still use them when working various editorial projects.

What were the key steps in building your portfolio of photography clients, and what was the most challenging or intimidating job you have taken on?

When I was building my portfolio, I really had to think about what it was that I wanted to do in my career and go from there. In this case, I like photographing people, extravagant clothes, movement, and some sort of narrative. So it made sense for me to create a book with fashion and editorial in mind. My biggest dream is to photograph/creative direct for Rodarte and Gucci, and for this to manifest, I have to show them that I’m very capable, versatile, and have a very clear sense of personal style. I’m always in the process of developing my book, but a key step to get here was to shoot as much as I possibly could to develop my style. I’d write down a shot list/concepts, pick up some cool clothes from the thrift store, and force my friends to shoot with me(they didn’t mind too much). Over time, I’d just add or get rid of relevant photos, and always keep track of the overall style. 

The most intimidating job I’ve taken on so far was very recent. I shot photos at three official shows during New York Fashion Week for Claudia Li, Collina Strada, and Kim Shui. I worked primarily on backstage images for Claudia and Kim, then shot portraits of Hayley Williams from Paramore for Collina Strada. It was pretty scary because I’ve never had to do anything remotely like this. There are people running around everywhere, stylists quickly forcing models into outfits, and production crew shouting left and right. It was also challenging because although I was a house photographer and working specifically for the designers, there’s unfortunately a lot of misogynistic attitudes toward female photographers in the industry. I found myself often pushed around, and stepped on or in front of, by a sea of male photographers while I was just trying to do my job. I learned pretty quickly that if I wanted to get a good shot, I had to take up a lot of space, and be extremely vocal with them. And although it was difficult, I really did have an incredible experience.

Follow Erica's work on Instagram at @erica_maclean or at https://www.ericamaclean.com/.

Published in Finer Points Blog

Since last week's announcement that classes at the University of Utah would be conducted online for the remainder of the semester, many College of Fine Arts students have risen to the challenge with positivity, compassion and drive. Susannah Mecham, a second-year student in the Department of Art & Art History majoring in painting and drawing with a minor in sculpture, decided to start a unique Instagram account where her fellow U students could connect around their creative work.

To foster new connections as well as provide support in an unsteady situation, Mecham established @coronaartcollective where she encourages University of Utah fine arts students to connect and share what they are creating. 

Here's what she had to say about it: 

"Over the course of the last week I was camping out of range of cell service with a group of fellow University of Utah students. It was a very surreal experience to drive home with our phones exploding as we passed signs flashing pandemic hotlines on the freeway, with the person next to me reading through updates from family, friends, government and the university. Everything seemed like it was happening all at once -- because it was for us. I was deeply saddened that I would miss creative opportunities and time within a community that I love.  


"I fully intend to have a prosperous educational experience despite the current COVID-19 situation. I also know that by staying connected to the U I will continue to have the support of those colleagues and educators who have supported my education and the education of so many others. The U as a community has many tools for us to utilize right now, and with a little creativity and togetherness (from a 6 foot safe distance) everyone can move forward."


"I received an email from my sculpture professor, Kelsey Harrison, who suggested that we find ways to connect with other art students to continue critiquing and discussing work. Kelsey also suggested that we continue to be informed about what other people were making and what drives their art practices while our own creative practices as students are being challenged and imposed upon by social distancing and quarantines. IMG 75BCA33FC5F0 1

"After sharing some of my feelings about the situation with my mom, she suggested that I get online and start making things happen! I decided Instagram would be a good platform as it is used widely by creative communities. Since then I have enjoyed watching the creative community respond to the COVID-19 situation by continuing to make art, music, and more. In a time where everything is put on hold and becoming more stagnant, creativity is beginning to flourish and it is very exciting. 

Staying connected to the University of Utah is important to me during this time because I fully intend to have a prosperous educational experience despite the current COVID-19 situation. I also know that by staying connected to the U I will continue to have the support of those colleagues and educators who have supported my education and the education of so many others. The U as a community has many tools for us to utilize right now, and with a little creativity and togetherness (from a 6 foot safe distance) everyone can move forward." 

Follow @coronaartcollective on Instgram to see student work and share your own! 

Do you have a resource you'd like to share with fellow students? Tag us on Instagram at @uofufinearts.

Stay well and stay connected. 

Published in Finer Points Blog