At the end of the academic year, CCAD faculty select one outstanding senior for each undergraduate major. Today, in part two of our nine-part series, meet Outstanding Photography Senior Derick Whitson.
Q. Outstanding Senior is an honor that’s earned. How did you stay focused and motivated to excel academically?
I made sure I wasn’t just doing work to please others. I made sure I was doing work that satisfied my own wants and needs.
Q. What was your proudest achievement?
Pushing beyond my comfort zone and going to the New York Studio Residency Program. That was a huge step for me. It was one of the most memorable moments while here at CCAD.
Q. What was your biggest challenge as a student?
Getting my foot in the door freshman year and understanding where my head was when it came to creating work. Going from my hometown of Mansfield, OH, to Columbus was a huge change. But going through that transition was really important in my development as an artist.
Q. Is there a person in your field who inspires you?
Tierney Gearon. She was one of the first photographers that I really connected with, mainly because of her subject matter.
Q. Do you remember a single point when you realized that you were meant to be here doing what you were doing?
Sophomore year in my Photo 1 class was probably the turning point for me. It’s when I decided to switch my major from Fine Arts to Photography. I did a project titled Schizophrenia and it was the first time I had used my own personal narrative and expressed it to a larger audience.
Q. Who was your most influential professor?
Shannon Benine. She worked with me closely in Photo 1.
Q. What will you miss most about CCAD?
Being able to work closely with my professors. I’ll miss not being able to go to them and ask questions whenever I want.
Q. Have any CCAD alumni impacted your time here?
Definitely Erin McKenna. She came into my class during my sophomore year and talked about the New York Studio Residency Program and how it changed her and her practice. I’m really intrigued by her work.
Q. What word or phrase sums up your feelings about graduation?
Success. It feels like a great accomplishment to be the first person from my family to complete college.
Q. What are your plans after graduation?
I plan on moving back to New York City. I’m going to work with New York-based artists Jason Schultze and Jody King. I’m also considering a job with the New York Photo Festival.
Q. What is one thing you know now that you wish you would have known as a freshman?
How to formulate thoughts and ideas and concepts. It’s crazy how much you learn to put your ideas out there, talk about your work, and critique.
Derick is from Mansfield, OH, and attended Mansfield Christian School.
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