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Senior Send-Off

MICA’s latest graduates excel, inspire, and give back

Posted 03.01.14 by mica communications

MICA graduates have always had great expectations. This year is no different, as MICA seniors want to improve the environment, express unique ideas, and even save the world. Here is a sampling of seniors who are off to a good start. 

Vivien Wise (fiber) 
For Vivien Wise '14, her love of art is matched only by her interest in improving the environment. She found purpose while being involved with Students of Sustainability, an organization that promotes environmental awareness at MICA. She also founded the Swap Shop, which lets students recycle items they no longer want by giving them to others who do. "I've always been aware of waste," Wise said. The effort was so successful that it has now become part of MICA's culture. Wise also has attended environmental programs off-campus, such as Powershift, a youth environmental leadership conference. She was instrumental in bringing the Chesapeake Climate Action Network to MICA to speak to students about sustainability as well.

After graduation, Wise hopes to teach in an arts organization, while "continuing with activism and working for the earth," she said. She also hopes to build upon the spirit of community engagement that she soaked in on MICA's campus.

"MICA has a supportive faculty and staff, and everyone in the Students of Sustainability is very committed, which is really inspiring for me," she said. "It's easy to keep being active when you have support and encouragement from your community."

Image Caption: Vivien Wise '14, Ceremony of Space.

Turner Gillespie (animation)
Thanks to a semester abroad at the United Kingdom's Arts University Bournemouth, Turner Gillespie '14 has a worldly view of art. "It was great to see things from a different perspective outside of the United States," Gillespie said. By attending art shows and visiting cities, including Berlin, Paris and Venice, he explained, "I got to meet with directors from all over the world and learn new storytelling techniques."

Those lessons and experiences served him well. The student films he contributed to while overseas are now touring animation festivals across the globe.

After returning to the United States, Gillespie interned at Studio Kudos, a graphic design studio in New York, where he worked on logo animation and poster and print design. He also worked with fashion designer Azin Valy on her clothing line Cityzen by Azin. "Fashion design was an unexpected opportunity, but I enjoyed trying something very different," he said.

Gillespie's ambitions are to work for an animation studio and attend graduate school, but he won't rule out other applications of his art. "MICA has given me the chance to experiment," he said. "I know it's okay to try something new."

Image Caption: Turner Gillespie '14, Avatar, assembled paper.

Sung Mun (graphic design)
Sung Mun '14 knows firsthand how powerful art can be. "Graphic design is social," Mun said. "You're working with people, and you're doing something to influence people."

That lesson was brought home in 2013 when MICA teamed with PNC Bank to launch PNC Design Fellows, a pilot program that gave MICA students an opportunity to work with local nonprofits. Mun worked with the Woman's Industrial Exchange, an organization that has supported local artists by helping them market and sell handcrafted goods since 1880.

The organization was in need of a re-brand. She helped to create a new logo, stationery, and graphics for the website, which helped the organization stand out more.

"It really opened my eyes to how doing a simple thing like a re-brand can really help someone," Mun said.

Mun's future goals include more work in branding, specifically for a multidisciplinary studio. She expects that the connections she has made at MICA will help her get there. "MICA has helped me meet interesting people, and that's going to lead to many opportunities in the future."

Image Caption: A sampling of Sung Mun's '14 work from the Women's Exchange.

Rachael Hulme (photography, Teaching)
For Rachael Hulme '14 '15, photography is a gift too good to keep to herself. "I like to use my talent for a purpose that has nothing to do with me," she said.

One such purpose is bringing joy to the community. With the funds she received through a MICA France-Merrick Special Projects Grant, Hulme organized a Help-Portrait project in Baltimore, creating pictures of individuals in public housing and recovery centers. "The premise is to find a group of people who are in need and photograph them," Hulme said. "It's completely about giving to people that wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to have a professional portrait made." The effort was awarded Community Service Program of the Year in spring 2013 by MICA.

Hulme merges two of her passions, which are photography and teaching. Through the Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) program at MICA, she taught photography classes at the John Eager Howard Recreation Center and the Hampden Family Center. She also tutored Baltimore-area adults in photography.

She'll be returning to MICA in the fall for the MA in Teaching program, with plans to teach and pursue commercial photography work. When it comes to art, "MICA has really broadened my perspective on the world," she said.

Image Caption: Rachael Hulme '14 '15, Crabapples, archival ink print.

Matthew Oliva (photography, art history)
Matthew Oliva '14 arrived at MICA planning to study photography, but when he took the required History of Photography class, something else clicked. "I'd always had an interest in art history, and I realized I could indulge both of my interests in history and photography simultaneously," he said.

One of the most meaningful projects he participated in was an internship with the Jewish Museum of Maryland in 2012. Oliva worked with the photo archivist on a variety of projects, including inventory of the museum's photographic collection, archival work with collections related to local Baltimore businesses and image research and digitization for the traveling exhibition Jews On the Move: Baltimore and the Suburban Exodus, 1945-1968.

"Getting to work in a formal museum setting was a great experience because I realized that was absolutely what I wanted to do for the rest of my life," he said.

Oliva also spent the spring 2013 semester abroad as part of MICA and the Studio Art Centers International's Honors Program in Florence, Italy, where he was able to "break outside of the American bubble of photography."

After graduating, Oliva hopes to gain more experience in archival work before attending graduate school. "The ability I had at MICA to double major was beneficial because it didn't restrict me," Oliva said. "That made my work stronger."

Image Caption: Matthew Oliva '14 doing archival work at a 2012 internship. Photo courtesy of the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Nicole Rodrigues (printmaking)
If you're looking for Nicole Rodrigues '14, you'll likely find her in the printmaking studio. "I like to do prints in all types of media," she said, which she believes is one of the reasons she received a Printmaking Departmental Recognition Award in 2013. She participated in a number of juried exhibitions including the Annual Printmaking Department Juried Exhibition at MICA, and shows at venues, such as Baltimore's Current Gallery and Station North Chicken Box.

Rodrigues also spends much of her time at WICV Radio, MICA's student-run radio station, where she is a radio show host and general manager.

"The point of printmaking is to get information out to the people and to share your ideas and thoughts," she said. "That's what radio does, too."

Her love of comics and zines led her to participate in the Third Annual Publications and Multiples Fair at Open Space in Baltimore in 2012. "Comics can be created using a lot of different styles and that's what I'm attracted to," she said. She plans to continue to create comics throughout her career, and she wants to open up a print shop someday.

If her aspirations cover a lot of ground, it's because she credits her experience at MICA as teaching her not to limit herself. "MICA allowed me to try many different things," she said. "That helped me to figure out my path."

Image Cpation: Nicole Rodrigues '14, Desire Path, lithograph.

Boya Sun (illustration)
Boya Sun '14 was born in China and lived for many years in Canada, but it was in Baltimore where she found her artistic voice. "I always enjoyed reading comics and animation," she said. "But at MICA, I realized that illustration, with its focus on composition and color, was what I was most interested in."

At MICA, Sun worked on her craft by entering numerous competitions. She won a competition to design the best poster for the winter holiday lighting of Baltimore's Washington Monument in 2012. 

She has also made it a point to show her work at galleries. Most recently she exhibited a piece in a show at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California, that featured works inspired by the television show The Big Bang Theory.

Sun plans to pursue a career as a freelance illustrator for magazines, and she believes her time at MICA prepared her well for the task. 

"Most of the teachers are working artists, so I felt like they had good insight into the current market and what's trendy," Sun said. The community of artists also pushed her to excel. "Being with peers that are passionate about what I'm passionate about helped me to grow."

Image Caption: Boya Sun '13, Underdog (detail), digital. Detail of artwork by Harrison Tyler '14.

Harrison Tyler (interdisciplinary sculpture)
Harrison Tyler '14 sees things that others can't. As a result, his multidisciplinary practice explores structures of space and perception.

Tyler has shown his work in a number of Baltimore galleries, including the sophiajacob gallery, In/Flux Gallery, Area 405 and Floristree performance space. He has also taken part in group shows in New York, Chicago, Miami and Philadelphia.      

When he took the Digital Fabrication course last spring, he "fell in love with it." After learning processes, such as 3-D printing, computer numerical control (CNC) milling, computer-aided design (CAD) modeling, and laser cutting, Tyler put his knowledge to work as a lab technician so he could help other students better understand them.

Tyler explained that helping others overcome artistic challenges makes him a better artist. "There are so many problems that others encounter, so I learn more than I would ever learn in a class or even in my own practice," he said.

His ultimate goal is to be a studio artist. "The Interdisciplinary Sculpture Department has been super critical in pushing me intellectually," Tyler said. "That has been the biggest influence on my work."

Image Caption: Detail of artwork by Harrison Tyler '14.