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What it’s like to study art at Calvin

Calvin’s ideal size puts you in the perfect place to meet art professors who are at the top of their field—and who want to get to know you. They’ll challenge you to use your art skills to convey your deepest convictions. Here’s what Andrew Gilbert is learning as an artist at Calvin.

  • Author: Staff
  • Published: March 16, 2020
  • Author: Staff
  • Published: March 16, 2020

What makes Calvin different?

Calvin embraces a solid Reformed Christian perspective while treasuring openness and diversity. I love interacting with the different ideas and opinions I encounter here.

How did you know what you wanted to study?

When I was a kid, my first dream was to be a writer. I had read The Chronicles of Narnia, and I wanted to be the kind of person who writes stories like that. Then I started taking drawing classes, and I loved them. I realized I wanted to tell stories through the visual medium of art.

What are your art professors at Calvin like?

Well, with art, you’re responsible for your own education. It doesn’t matter which school you’re at—a liberal arts university like Calvin or an arts-focused college—you’re responsible for drawing outside of class to advance your technique, and you’re responsible for figuring yourself out. The great thing about Calvin is that the teachers listen to and care about you. They want to help you get there. They’ll challenge you to go deeper in your art, to learn more, and to push boundaries.

How has the art department challenged you?

As an artist, I’m thinking a lot more about the images I’m making. The visual rhetoric class at Calvin really helped me understand how we’re always saying something through the images we make. I’ve been thinking a lot about questions of race—like, how do I, as a white person, represent a Black person in my art? Am I representing them in a good way? Am I just falling into a stereotype? Calvin has definitely challenged me to think deeply about what I’m creating.

What's something valuable you've learned at Calvin?

I’ve been thinking about the whole idea of mindfulness that I’ve been learning about from Calvin’s Center for Counseling and Wellness. It’s the practice of being conscious of your surroundings and what you’re seeing and feeling. Sometimes in Christianity, we feel like we always have to be happy. In mindfulness, you’re given a space where you can be sad and you can grieve. Being honest about my feelings is hard because it feels like I’m not controlling them, but it’s the only way that I can truly give that control back to God.

How has the BFA program supported you as an artist?

The bachelor of fine arts program was a great opportunity for me to get more feedback from my professors as well as from my friends. At the end of every semester, we set up our best and most recent work in a mini-exhibition that professors from the department come to and give us their opinions and critiques. It’s interesting to talk with your art history professor, not just your studio professor, about your art and what you’re accomplishing. I’ve also been able to invite some of my friends to check out my pieces during these times, which I really enjoy!

Learn more about Andrew Gilbert here.

  • Author: Staff
  • Published: March 16, 2020


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