WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE NOW
To get better at what you do, it’s always a good idea to know what others did before you. Studying Art History will broaden your understanding of the historical and social contexts of your own work. There’s an emphasis on writing and critical thinking— important skills for succeeding after MECA. But there also are plenty of assignments that involve creating art— individually and collaboratively. The people who teach you have diverse, interesting backgrounds in art, including Medieval, Renaissance, Asian, African, modern and contemporary.
Carlin Soos, 2014
HometownBrooke, New Jersey
Where were you before coming to MECA?
Brooke, New Jersey, which is the town next to the Jersey Shore town.
What brought you to MECA?
When I came here to visit I was just instantly overcome by how friendly the faculty and administration was. I was there for two days and by the end of it the President knew my name, and the administration actually cared. They really helped with any issues with financial aid. Most other schools sort of let you figure it out on your own, and MECA really made sure they could get me here.
What got you into wanting to make art for a living in the first place?
I went to a charter school for math and science. I was going to be a geneticist, and then, at 17, I realized -- I hate science. Then, my teachers were pushing me to being an anatomical artist because I was always drawing. I realized I like to create things and that that’s what I should be doing.
What surprises have you encountered with your education here?
I think just how skilled the teachers are. I’ve never been in a class where the teacher didn’t seem like they knew what they are doing. I’ve never taken a class at MECA where I felt like I was wasting my time.
What is the best thing you’ve learned in terms of real world experience while being here?
Learning that you get what you put out. In my classes where I try hard, I’m going to do well in the class. In my internship there are a few people who put things off, but MECA instilled the importance of hard work and getting stuff done.
How would you describe your art making style?
I feel like my work is bold yet very clean cut. I came here thinking I was going to do illustration and did a lot of pen and line work. When I go here, I realized graphic design was an actual major. I think it’s articulate. It’s more towards the left side of the brain rather than the right side of the brain. Most colleges were asking me right away “what is your major?” MECA was asking “what is your intended major?” and then “what is your second intended major?” There’s room to go outside of the boundaries and really do whatever it is that you want to do.
What made you choose to minor in art history?
Everyone has to take the survey class. I remember dreading it the first day, and then the second I got in there I was just blown away by how much you could learn about today based on an entire history of art making. The information could be seen as somewhat useless but in respect to making, it’s very helpful. I’m a strong believer that art history can help you no matter what your major you’re in. For the graphic design that I do, which is advertising, I think it’s a lot of art theory. That’s exactly what advertising is, it’s not just what looks pretty but really thinking about how it’s going to engage the viewer.
How has MECA helped you network outside of the school?
The Dean himself brought me to VIA, an advertising agency. He walked me and a few other students, and we got to see the company, meet the CEO, and right there I got an interview, which I probably wouldn’t have been able to do without Ian. They definitely will do whatever they can, if you put yourself out there, to help you with any and all opportunities that are available.
What are your future goals and dreams?
I’m pretty sure I want to get my doctorate in art history. Which, is great, since I didn’t think I liked it before. The teachers definitely make it interesting. I want to be an art director, and I feel like the two of them go hand in hand. The more you know about art the more you can direct art.
What expectations do you have from MECA in helping you achieve these goals?
Well I feel like right now, even just going into my junior year, my portfolio is solid. The work I’m creating is getting me interviews and positions already. The professors are great at getting you the point to where you need to be, to go where you want to go when they leave you. I feel like I’m working hard enough on my education that I can be where I need to be to take care of myself.
What are some other hobbies/interests you have?
I play the trumpet and was in marching band for a long time. I love horses, and rode for a really long time. I love dog my dog Togi, and I have his paw print tattooed on me. I’m a vegetarian, so I’m a big animal lover. I’m a fantasy nerd. I’m a comic book nerd. I like to read. I like to write.
What do you think sets the art history department apart form other schools?
The art history department is teaching art history for art students, so i think that the information I’m getting somehow pertains to my art career. Opposed to going to a liberal arts school where you’re getitng an education that’s not focused on the artist.
Dr.Gan Xu born in Shanghai, China. He studied art history at Xian Academy of Art, Xian, China, Vanderbilt University, and Ohio University. His research and publication focus on contemporary art in the west and in China. He has published two books and more than thirty articles in exhibition catalogs and magazines. He lectures nationally (at Harvard, for example) and internationally, and has taught as a visiting professor at Eastern China Normal University, Sichuan Academy of Art, China, and Langzhou University, China. He brings students to the over-sea international studies in China, Japan and France. Dr.Xu is also a painter. He teaches Chinese calligraphy and ink painting. He has been exhibiting his work since the 1970s.
Xian Academy of Art, Xian, China; MA in Chinese Art History from Vanderbilt University; PhD in Comparative Arts from Ohio University