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Spencer McNeil '10


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Galesburg, IL 61401



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The prairie on fire during the annual Green Oaks Prairie Burn.

Spencer McNeil '10

Masters Student, University of Illinois - Chicago

Major in Studio Art

Spencer is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Architecture at the University of Illinois - Chicago.

Spencer McNeil '10

Describe what you're doing now. Was this your expected path when you chose to major in art?

In addition to the my academic pursuits, I've had some amazing opportunities to work with a couple of incredible young architecture firms. I have been working with the Chicago/NYC based design collaborative Norman Kelley on a number of architecture and installation projects, including a wall drawing at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and our submission to the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Our installation, titled "Chicago, How Do You See?" consisted of a supergraphic drawing on the 65 windows of the front facade of the Chicago Cultural Center on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

After graduating from Knox I felt strongly that while I had a strong background in fine art, I needed to spend some time working in architecture to develop my approach to design before selecting a graduate program. I was encouraged by the faculty, including my advisor, Mark Holmes, to explore the discipline and find out what kinds of design interested me most. I worked for four years for Studio Santalla in Washington D.C. building a portfolio of architecture, furniture design and graphic design.

Did you complete any independent projects as a student?

I was able to complete a number of independent studies while at Knox, which enabled me to complete material investigations, study specific architectural typologies, and learn software that were not part of the fine art or visual communications programs. In addition to being able to study material not offered in the general course catalog, Knox's culture of independent study teaches you how to rigorously investigate your interests and develop your personal learning process. It's a great opportunity to have such (guided) independence at the undergraduate level, and it wasn't until some time after I left Knox that I realized how rare of an opportunity that is.

How did your Knox experience prepare you for the discipline of architecture and postgraduate studies?

The most important tools with which I graduated are the ability to present and position my work in the world of art and design and defend it confidently, tools that have enabled me to define my path and pursue my interests, even as those interests evolve with time.

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Printed on Wednesday, July 24, 2019