Painting the picture of the art department

By Kate Stoltzfus

For many art majors at Goshen College, the pull towards the department is more than just the work – it’s the building they inhabit.

“The art building rocks!” said Emma Gerig, a first-year art major. “I did a mix of science and art classes but I ended up really liking the art department, people and professors. It’s a nice supportive community.”

Enrollment in the art department has ranged from 30-60 over the past decade but this year, art weighs in as a solidly popular field of study, with 48 majors. This is also the first year in a number of years that GC has had an active art club. The club, run by senior Jordan Kauffman, meets on Monday evenings and normally has about five to eight attendees.

“Some days, we make art or watch art programs,” said Phil Scott, a first-year art major. “It is a relaxing way to start the week.”

The art department has maintained its strong numbers partly because of a talented staff of professors.
“We’ve all come with graduate school skills,” said John Blosser, a professor who teaches advanced drawing and painting. “Part of the program’s popularity is that it has become a well-oiled machine – we’ve refined it, enhanced it.”

Blosser, who has been at the college for 12 years, believes that Goshen College draws strong students in general and more students are walking in the door already skilled.

“It’s like coaching a really good basketball team,” Blosser said. “I love the interaction with human beings on a personal and intellectual level. It’s great fun to watch students pick up an idea and generate something I never would have thought of doing.”

A big part of the art major is the senior art show. Blosser said that while it is a lot of pressure, they often hear back from students ten years later saying it was such an important experience.

One senior with an upcoming show is Rachel Friesen, an art and peace, justice and conflict studies major, who came to Goshen College with a high school art scholarship and the intention of pursuing art as a major.

“What I’ve enjoyed most about studying art here is the opportunity to mix with people in other majors,” said Friesen. “I also appreciate the art professors here for their ability to both encourage students new to art and those on upper levels seeking constructive criticism. This is an atmosphere I would not have experienced had I chosen to go to an art school.”

Said Blosser, “The heart of art is invention. We engender creative thinking very well here.”

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