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Ben Andrew

Ben Andrew

Mount Royal School of Art

Class of 2013

I found the students and faculty in Mount Royal to be more radical, well-read, and welcoming than I could ever have hoped for. The program's diverse community felt like the most recent entry in a long-standing tradition of artist misfits; my studio neighbors providing me with a wealth of inspiration and extra hands when they were needed. 

What artistic background did you have prior to your time at Mount Royal?
I was a painting major as an undergraduate and had dabbled in installation and sound work. When I applied to Mount Royal I also applied to several painting-specific programs (including one at MICA), and it feels ridiculous now to to think where my work would be today if I had not had the freedom and variety of the Mount Royal School of Art.

How did your experiences and interaction in Mount Royal alter your process?
After some early experiments with photo-collage in my new studio, I did a mildly disruptive public performance in the Baltimore Museum of Art about three months into the program and things only grew stranger and more varied after that. My thesis exhibition involved interactive sculpture, participatory performance, a full length comic book, a dynamic website, and a short feature documentary video. The Mount Royal program did not explicitly promote working in an inter- disciplinary mode, but I think the most interesting art today is work that reaches into non-creative fields, whether its non-traditional exhibition spaces, institutional collaboration, or just confusing everyone's notion of what art is. I found the students and faculty in Mount Royal to be more radical, well-read, and welcoming than I could ever have hoped for. The program's diverse community felt like the most recent entry in a long-standing tradition of artist misfits; my studio neighbors providing me with a wealth of inspiration and extra hands when they were needed.

What is life like for you in your first year out of Mount Royal?
I'm currently working at the Digital Media Center at Johns Hopkins University, teaching workshops, and helping students with technology-focused projects. I also teach part-time at MICA, where I am happily still part of the school's close- knit community. After a number of exhibitions and performances related to my graduate thesis work, I am developing some new art projects in the Washington DC area, as well as writing and editing for the Baltimore arts journal What Weekly.

In what ways did your Mount Royal education allow you to have such success?
MICA as a whole is an amazing community, and I found mentors and many professional connections at the school that have helped immensely in understanding just how people manage to make a living in the arts. Mount Royal in particular seems to have one of the strongest communities of alumni in the Baltimore area, and they have always been welcoming and inspiring as individuals and as art-makers. I'm sure the future generations of Royals will share their unbelievable motivation and weirdness.