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Classroom to Career

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Alumni reflections on the visual arts

Barrows Bay #2Barrow Bay #2, by Yaz Krehbiel '91, Thayer '92. (Photo courtesy of the artist)

"While I was in my fifth year at Thayer, I took Drawing I with Ben Moss [the George Frederick Jewett Professor of Studio Art]. Two days after I graduated from Thayer School I started at the Art Institute of Chicago. That was the only studio art course I took at Dartmouth. But Ben was a master teacher and his standards, even for a beginning class, were exceptionally high. It was like 12 weeks of being shown what it's like to be a real artist, and it was a touchstone for my artistic career."
John H. "Yaz" Krehbiel III '91, Thayer '92. Artist represented by the Richard Norton Gallery in Chicago.

 

"There was a rugged individualism, a do-it-yourselfness that permeated Dartmouth when I was there. We made all our student films on a simple Bolex 16mm camera, with inexpensive materials, using an improvised production process. You had the sense that anything you didn't know in life, you could figure out. And that has been my attitude, right or wrong, my whole career. Maybe it's the D-Plan, maybe it's the workload, but over time, I got comfortable being in over my head. And I have been getting myself in over my head ever since."
Phil Lord '97, art history major. Creator, executive producer and director of MTV's animated series Clone High; co-executive producer of CBS's How I Met Your Mother; and writer/director of the animated film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (opening in theaters September 18).


ShondaShonda Rhimes '91 (Photo courtesy of ABC)

"I took a drawing class my senior spring and had no talent for it whatsoever. I struggled mightily, but it made me see the world completely differently. For me it was about being fearless. I was not a person who did stuff I wasn't good at. And I threw myself into this and enjoyed it completely even though I wasn't good at it. That class taught me that it's really about courage and creativity. It doesn't matter what the outcome is, it's the joy of the process. I'd never done a TV show before Grey's Anatomy. But you leap in, you start swimming, you figure it out. That was probably the biggest lesson I learned at Dartmouth."
Shonda Rhimes '91, English literature with creative writing major. Creator and executive producer of ABC television shows Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice.

 

Stacey SellStacey Sell '85 (Photo by Stephen Mize)

"Professor Joy Kenseth's art history courses changed my life. The day we reached the Italian baroque in her Art 102 class, I chucked aside my plans to become a doctor and decided to major in art history (much to my parents' horror). Her exuberant and inspiring lectures were the single greatest factor in my decision to go on for a Ph.D."
Stacey Sell '85, art history major. Associate curator in the Department of Old Master Drawings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

 


Mateo Romero '89Mateo Romero '89 with Deer Dancer at Daybreak, part of the collection of the Hood Museum of Art. (Photo by Joseph Mehling 69)

"I came to Dartmouth to study architecture, but got really interested in drawing and printmaking. Studio Art Professor Varujan Boghosian had a big impact, and showed me what the mature artist could be and the level at which art could be done. Professor Ben Frank Moss [the George Frederick Jewett Professor of Studio Art] spoke of the ecstasy and the metaphysics of painting, almost like a religious experience. That was an eye-opener. They were very different in their approach to teaching and art, but both were equally resonant."
Mateo Romero '89, visual studies major. Artist whose work has been collected by numerous museums, including the Hood Museum of Art, which acquired Deer Dancer at Daybreak.


"My liberal arts education is seminal to what I'm doing now. Working in a museum, where you have a public interface, you need to be able to write and speak effectively about your research, the materials that are on display, and be able to listen acutely to what your visitors are saying and include them in the conversation. To me that's all grounded in liberals arts."
Jan Seidler Ramirez '73, English major. Curator of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, scheduled to open fall 2012.

 

Nick HommaHood Museum of Art Overseer Dr. Shunichi Homma '77 (right) speaks with fellow overseer Hugh Freund '67 (Photo by John Gilbert Fox)

"I do a lot of cardiac imaging, which is similar to looking at many paintings, picking up on what is in the painting. So art history and imaging cross over. There are nuances in a patient you need to understand, the same in a painting. A humanities education helps in research as well. You need to see behind a result to know how you got there or if a study is flawed to come to a better understanding."
Dr. Shunichi "Nick" Homma '77, biology major and art history minor. The Margaret Milliken Hatch Professor of Medicine; associate chief, Division of Cardiology; and director, Noninvasive Cardiac Imaging, at Columbia University Medical Center.


"My freshman winter I took a film criticism course with Professor Alan Gaylord. That class introduced me to taking film seriously as an art form. The first film we watched was The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. We had to write an essay analyzing it from every perspective you can imagine-character, sociological, technical. It was tough but that class taught me how to write and talk about movies in a convincing way. In my job you're constantly advocating for your vision of the movie, your take on the material. And that's where a broader liberal arts perspective is endlessly helpful. But for me that class was also integral."
Michael Ellenberg '97, government major. Senior vice president of Scott Free Productions. Films include The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and the untitled Robin Hood film, slated for release next summer.


Carroll SchoolThe Carroll School in Lincoln, Mass., designed by Moskow Linn Architects, principal Keith Moskow '83. (Photo by Greg Premru)

"To be a good architect it's important to understand many different aspects of life. It's not just studying how to draw a straight line. Dartmouth's holistic approach to learning and its emphasis on foreign study are key. I participated in three off-campus programs-in Florence, Italy, Mexico, and an exchange program at University of California San Diego. This got me out in the world, experiencing different cultures, and seeing a wide variety of buildings and designs. It was critical to my education as an architect."
Keith Moskow '83, visual studies major. Principal of Boston's Moskow Linn Architects, recipient of three national American Institute of Architects awards and designer of the Boston Logan 9/11 Memorial and the Conservation Law Foundation Headquarters in Boston.

 

"When I was at Dartmouth, the studio art department emphasized self-expression over draftsmanship. At the time, I was often frustrated that I wasn't learning technique, but in the end, I found that having something to say is the hardest thing, and learning how to say it is the easiest."
Chris Miller '97, studio art and government major. Creator, executive producer and director of MTV's animated series Clone High; co-executive producer of CBS's How I Met Your Mother; and writer/director of the animated film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (opening in theaters September 18).


COMPILED BY BONNIE BARBER


Last Updated: 1/12/10