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"Little Fish" in the MICA Pond

Memoir Highlights Alumna’s Freshman Year

Posted 03.01.14 by mica communications

The cover of Ramsey Beyer’s "Little Fish: A Memoir From a Different Kind of Year."

When Ramsey Beyer '07 (experimental animation) first arrived at MICA after living in a small town in Michigan all her life, she experienced a dizzying array of emotions.

"I went from being excited, to sad, to homesick, to feeling completely energized," Beyer recalled.

So she did what she always does in challenging situations-she documented her experience. "I have a photo blog, and I always kept an online journal," she said.

Years later, Zest Books, a leading publishing company in teen nonfiction, wanted to tell a story about what it's like to go away to college for the first time, but they wanted to tell it in a non-traditional way. A friend of Beyer's suggested that the publisher check out the MICA alumna's work. Beyer's style of using journal entries, collages, drawings, and lists to chronicle her story appealed to them and the publisher asked her to take on the project.

Beyer had so much material from her freshman year that she was able to pull it together in approximately four months.

"I found my way as an artist my freshman year," she said. "Baltimore was a totally different experience from what I knew. So a lot of the things I highlighted in the book are those differences and how an 18 year old learned to navigate them."

Those freshman year experiences culminated in the book Little Fish: A Memoir From a Different Kind of Year, published by Zest Books and distributed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in September 2013. Not only does Baltimore play a prominent role in the book, but Beyer's MICA experience can be seen throughout.

One of the things she conveyed through the book was the strong sense of community she experienced in college. "MICA has more of a campus atmosphere compared to a lot of other art schools," she said. "I made friends easily, and I was really pushed by my instructors."

Beyer hopes that young people who read the book will feel less isolated, as they realize that these emotions are universal.

"Hopefully they will get a sense of relief if they're going through similar things," Beyer said.

One of the things Beyer loves most about art is it allows her to share her innermost feelings in an unintimidating way.

"I'm being open in a way, but it's behind closed doors," she explained. "I'm sharing my feelings, but I'm sitting alone in my room pouring it onto a page and then when someone else experiences it, usually it's because they're reading my book miles away in a room by themselves."

Beyer learned at MICA that there are many ways to tell stories using art, a lesson that served her well through her latest publication.

"Personal narratives are fascinating because of the way that they can reach other people," she said. "There's something you get from a story that is based on shared feelings, and that's the type of work I'm interested in."

Image captions: Cover and excerpts from Little Fish: A Memoir From a Different Kind of Year.