Student Speaker - Emily Jalinsky, BFA Visual Art

Her speech:

Hello Everyone. I am thrilled to be here. When I participated in my last class and completed all the requirements for this semester, I couldn’t stop repeating to myself, “I did it, I actually did it, I can not believe I did it!” I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing days when the workload felt too heavy or the projects seemed too lofty. However, it feels wonderful to have persevered through those moments to see the benefit of all the hard work! I took the slow and steady track, spending eight years obtaining my degree. There were several times when I had to seriously consider whether or not I could stay in school. I am incredibly thankful for the support system I had with my family, friends, and my husband. They never stopped encouraging me to pursue my passion!

When I first inquired about attending a university, I was told by a disability advisor not to consider higher education. I have several chronic conditions, including a sleep disorder called Cataplexy, which affects me on a daily basis and flairs up unexpectedly. It is challenging living with a chronic condition, but living without fulfillment would be even worse! I did not listen to that advisor because I needed to come here. No matter what my physical state is, I am driven, and I have an overwhelming passion for art! I longed to learn printmaking techniques and I craved experimental processes. I wanted to be challenged in my abilities.

I had no idea how much the community here would help me grow. One of the joys of our visual art department is the emphasis on interdisciplinary work. For a while, I had an identity crisis trying to decide between being a printmaker or a mixed media artist. I finally realized I could be both! I was able to major in printmaking, take an exorbitant amount of expanded media classes, dabble in textiles, and take my last directed studies credits with a sculpture professor. I have close faculty mentors in almost every department. Mentors who believed in me, understood what I needed, and helped me succeed even when my health was declining. Through working with all of them, I was able to form a body of work with my own visual language. It wasn’t just the professors who devoted their time and energy however. The graduate students really gave of themselves and all the undergraduates were invested in each other as well. In the printmaking department we really enjoyed sharing techniques and keeping a dialogue with one another about our work. We also went on trips together and simply enjoyed each other’s company. If you log onto anyone of our facebook pages you will see endless photos of “print nerds” and videos of printmaking students dancing in the studio as a way to stay energized during long printing sessions. I know I benefited from this closely connected group, where we encouraged, challenged, and supported each other –with some goofing off along the way.

I was also fortunate enough to take part in a class this semester called “Wellness for the Creative Artist”, and it taught me the importance of surrounding myself with a creative community. We had students studying violin, acting, metal-smithing, film, dance, and the list goes on. Being around creative individuals outside your own field is quite intriguing and eye opening. I realized the similarities in our thinking even when we had different vocations. It’s like we all have a creative lens in which to see the world, and the ability to notice our surroundings and use it for inspiration! Art is not just a product; it truly is a way to live. I have a feeling our art will manifest itself in different ways throughout our lives.

When I entered college all I could think about was creating work. Now, as a graduate, all I can think about is sharing my work! It is no longer limited to my own creative impulses and love of process. It is about the connections we can make, either with other creative individuals or between the art and the public. I am dedicated to my studio practice and I can’t wait to exhibit and sell my work on a regular basis, but I also want to embody my creativity in any way possible. I plan to teach classes on mindfulness and creativity as well. I hope these classes will provide a stimulating creative community for others and myself. We need to make sure and keep that accountability to pursue new techniques and experimentation once we graduate. I know I am leaving behind the most genuine community of artists, and I want to make sure I help foster a new one where I venture next!