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Flowers bloom in the Prairie Plot on campus.

Katie O'Connor '12

Graduate Student in Ceramics, Virginia Commonwealth University

Major in Studio Art

After completing her MFA in Ceramics, Katie hopes to find opportunities to help young artists pursue their own work.

Katie O'Connor '12

How did your Knox experience prepare you to pursue an MFA?

I think the greatest gift my Knox education has given me is the ability to think critically about the information in front of me and to find relationships between seemingly disparate pieces of information. This has provided me with a wealth of material to work with as an artist, critically, conceptually, and visually. The faculty were also a huge factor in my pursuit of an MFA and life as a professional artist. They asked for a level of commitment to my artistic practice that I continue to try to carry out in many facets of my life now.

Did you complete any study abroad or independent projects as a student?

I had several incredibly revelatory and challenging experiences while at Knox. The first being my study abroad, which was a semester in the American Southwest through the National Outdoor Leadership School. It was physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding in ways that I hadn't experienced before and haven't experienced since.

My senior year I had the opportunity to design the costumes for the Theatre Department's production of Mary Stuart, followed by the Art Department's Open Studio term, and then my post-baccalaureate fellowship. All of these experiences provided me with leadership opportunities, as well as much needed time to work independently and collaboratively, and to gain a better understanding of myself as an artist and a person.

Describe your art. What inspires you?

The pieces I'm working on right now are an ongoing investigation into the relationship between American culture and the myth of the American West. I'm really interested in the storytelling based in the idea of the West in conjunction with my own experiences of it and historical records. This multi-layered, multi-perspective look at this broad topic has lead to works that are crafting a more specific arc about my relationship to my father through these places. I'm using a variety of materials, primarily video and sculpture, to create a sense of place and story.

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Printed on Sunday, June 16, 2024