Thursday, April 26, 2012

2012 Grand Award Winner Erin McKenna Interview

C.Todd Jones (AICUO President, Erin McKenna (Grand Award Winner),
Danielle Jullian Norton (CCAD Faculty) at the EVAs awards reception. 
Our 2012 Grand Award Winner, Erin McKenna is a graduating senior from Columbus College of Art & Design. Our new intern Lindsay Martin started off her new position by interviewing Erin about her experience. 

What experiences from your undergraduate education have influenced your portfolio?  
My influences range from many different sources.  My professors and their advice have had a great impact on  me.  Other artists such as Lousie Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Mika Rottenberg and Alison Schulnik have also been major influences.  My biggest influence was when I went to the New York Studio Residency Program the second semester of my junior year.

What are your plans for the future? Would you like to continue within the arts?  
There is not doubt in my mind that I will continue making art in the future.  I plan to go to residencies right after I graduate for one or two years.  After that I will get an MFA.  I want to teach at a college while continuing to make work.  I would like to show in respectable galleries as well.

How did you find out about AICUO? Why were you interested in this competition?  
I found out about AICUO when I was told that I was nominated for it.  I like the idea of this competition bringing together the great talents of Ohio.

Did you apply to other competitions as a senior?  
During my senior year, I was also nominated for the Windgate Fellowship and for the International Sculpture Center Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award.

How did living and studying in Ohio influence your artwork?  
After studying in New York City for 5 months and meeting other students all over the US and the world, I realized that coming from the midwest, I have a very strong work ethic.  Most of the students at CCAD are from Ohio or the midwest.  There is a high regard for working hard and making things with your hands.  With this comes drive and determination.

Did you attend a specific arts college or a college/university that included many departments? In your opinion, how do you think that this helped/ challenged your arts major?  
CCAD is a private school with only a couple majors specifically relating to art and design.  I like this environment.  I am aware of other larger colleges with many different areas and I feel the the art department is not taken seriously and perhaps spread too thin.  At CCAD, we have great faculty who are serious about what they do and sincerely enjoy talking to and helping students.

What were some of the challenges you faced during your senior portfolio?  
When submitting my portfolio to the AICUO Award, I was right in the middle of a major transition in my work.  This made it a little difficult to decide what to show and how to talk about my work.

What materials, ideas, or themes would you like to work with in the future?  
In the future, I hope to work more with performance and video.  I am still interested in the body and would like to explore ways to work with my body more and to incorporate my history of dance with my art work.

Looking back before going to college, what did you plan on doing as a high school senior? How did your goals/ aspirations change? Did you expect to major in the arts?  Since the 8th grade, I knew I wanted to go to art school.  In high school, I don’t think I realized how hard it was going to be.  I wasn’t really concerned with why I was making thing.  Through my career in college, I have read much more and have learned to make with thought behind my work.

Is there anything you would like to change/ promote/ exhibit within the art community surrounding your college?  YES.  Columbus boast about the Short North being an art district.  I think the work shown in the majority of the galleries is way too safe with what they show.  There needs to be more work dealing with heavier concepts.  The Wexner Center is a great source.  I believe the galleries of Columbus need to use the Wexner as a source of inspiration to make the work they show better and more challenging to the viewer.

Did you obtain any outside help for funding your senior portfolio? Was your college/university helpful with covering all of your needs throughout the year?  Everything in the portfolio I submitted to AICUO was paid for by me.

Do you have any advice for undergraduates in the art field? Advice for high school seniors?  Reading is very important.  Anything from fiction, to the news, philosophy and, art criticism, art interviews and essays written by or about other artists are all very important to keep up with throughout your artistic career.  Make as much work as you can.  You will make a lot of bad work before you make anything good, so it is important to always be making and thinking.  Lastly, it is important to have fun, make a lot of friends and travel as much as possible.

During your undergraduate program, were you involved in anything (besides AICUO competition) that related to the art community?  I participated in many shows and competitions around Columbus. I was also active in my school’s community and started a weekly student critique group.

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