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September 11, 2015

Promoting Learning and Growth: Q+A with Biomedical Art major Grace Gongaware

Promoting Learning and Growth: Q+A with Biomedical Art major Grace Gongaware

1.) What's your earliest memory of making art?
I have been drawing ever since I can remember. I always knew that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. In pre-school I remember we would be given a word, like “ocean,” and asked to draw. Most kids would draw a stripe of yellow crayon against a blue blob. I was the kid who made an extensive, colorful underwater scene full of fish and bubbles, seaweed and whales.

2.) Did you take a lot of art classes in high school?
My high school didn’t offer much in terms of art classes. But, I was very close to my art teacher. He recognized my passion and drive and he would accommodate my need to do more beyond my scheduled class. I began using my study hall to work in the art room. My teacher would challenge me to use different mediums and to work on side projects. By senior year he was one of my biggest resources for looking into art schools. He actually was the one who gave me a brochure about CIA.

3.) Why did you choose to attend an art + design school?
For me, there was no question about going to any other school than one focused on art and design. I believed that this type of college would facilitate growth and that I would be immersed in an environment where creativity was essential. I wanted to be in a community where art and design was embraced, energy and enthusiasm was infectious, and I could focus on collaboration yet also be confident in my entrepreneurial skills.

4.) What made you choose CIA?
I chose CIA because out of the five art colleges I had applied to, it made the most sense. I knew CIA was ranked among some of the top art and design schools. It also supported the students well with financial aid. I was impressed with student work and during my tour I could really visualize myself spending the next four years in this artistic, cultural hub.

5.) What made you choose your major?
Coming to CIA, I imagined myself majoring in illustration or graphic design. Through foundation year, I swayed towards being a painting major. It wasn’t until the spring that I decided on becoming a Biomedical Art major. CIA’s foundation year welcomes established interests but also introduces new ideas. My interest of combining art with the sciences, which grew from Cleveland’s surroundings of museums and gardens, turned into one of the driving forces for my decision. I met with the department head and viewed the work that current students were making and I knew that I had found the right major. Biomedical art offers such a wide array of classes, examining different techniques, mediums, and topics. I was being given the chance to learn traditional methods of carbon dusting, to digital rendering, interactive design, to 3D modeling. I think artists have a great potential to give back, to help, and to inspire. Biomedical art has that power to reach a greater audience; to inform, to intrigue and to stimulate curiosity. I want to use my art to promote learning, growth, and progress, and to take a unique approach to education.

6.) Is having your own studio important to your education?
I am so grateful for the studio space that is provided by CIA. A studio space is the proper environment to be working on your art. I think it provides a sense of security and comfort when working. A studio is place that you can call your own, but also be in an environment where you can interact with students of the same major. You’re working side by side with artists that inspire and challenge you. They all bring their unique drive and passion to find innovative visual solutions. Bouncing ideas and giving/receiving help from classmates creates bonds and establishes relationships that will be carried through the future.

7.) How are your relationships with CIA faculty different than your relationships with your high school teachers?
The faculty at CIA has mastered the balance between being a mentor and a friend. Their knowledge and lessons are valued due to the fact that every faculty member here is professionally active in their field. There is such a wide array of professors with different artistic sensibilities and professional experience that they all have valuable information to give. The faculty themselves create a united community based on mutual respect and a drive to progress creativity. The faculty not only teaches a trade, they stress the need to be socially conscious and to constantly learn. They show an interest in our work and our future.

8.) Tell us about your internship?
The CIA Career Center was instrumental in matching me with my current internship position. I was contacted by Amy Goldman about a job opportunity at the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center where they needed a medical illustrator. The FES Center combines research, medicine and engineering to develop innovative ways of helping people with a damaged nerve and muscle system move and perform to near normal functions again. I work as a communicator by translating complex and important medical information to visual imagery that patients, the public, and other professionals in the medical field can understand. I’ve been able to view different programs and talk to different researchers about their practices and their goals. Everything I have learned at CIA can be applied to working in the field; I’m confident in my skills with both traditional and computer-based art techniques, my knowledge in the medical and anatomical areas, and working with deadlines. But everything that I have learned at the FES, from working under a coordinator to interpreting a client’s idea into a drawing, is something you can’t learn in a CIA classroom. The internship extends that experiential learning of how to react in certain situations and to be confident with your abilities.

9.) How do you like Cleveland?
It’s amazing how living in this city for three years can make you call it home. Cleveland has a lively charm, whether it’s the upbeat night life, ethnic restaurants, free concerts, bowling with friends, art exhibitions, thrift stores, or trips to the West Side Market. Cleveland is an amazing, dynamic city, full of life and constant potentials. There are so many possibilities of industries that recognize the need of visual design and content. It’s an expanding artistic hub. Cleveland also provides a diverse community where you are introduced to different ways of expression, experiences, and beliefs. There is so much growth going on not just downtown, but also in the CIA community. A new residence hall for first year students, completely renovated CIA apartments for upperclassmen, and most recently the construction of the new George Gund Building shows the school’s commitment to the students, the field, and the community.

11.) What would you say to a high school student considering attending CIA?
Coming to CIA, you are suddenly up to your ears with artists from all over the world. While the energy and inspiration that comes from that is amazing, it is also intimidating. It’s not so hard at high school where you are the big fish in the small pond. Then in college, you then realize you may be an average fish in a pretty big pond. And that’s okay, because that is part of the journey. But it’s important to remember that everyone grows at their own pace and that the artistic process is not a competition. To succeed at CIA you have to approach life with a perspective of no limitations. Be prepared to welcome challenges, embrace hard work, and appreciate a reflective nature. At CIA your creative vision will be honed and developed, but so will your intellectual capacity, your self-reliance, and your personal integrity.

Above: Biomedical Art major Grace Gongaware at her internship at the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center.

A premier college of art and design.
11610 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland OH 44106 USA
800.223.4700

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