Kayane Kouzoujian in her studio
The end of spring is always an exciting time around CCAD’s campus. Although we have to say farewell to another group of graduating students, we also get to welcome them all into our talented group of alumni.
This year, there was something different about our new alumni, a new breed you could say; we had the first students graduate from our multidisciplinary MFA program.
Our 11 candidates came from all over—some local, some out of state, and some international.
Kayane Kouzoujian traveled the farthest to attend CCAD, coming from her home of Qatar in the Middle East. She was able to not only enhance her artistic skills, but also experience a completely different culture.
Elena Harvey Collins in her studio
“I am surrounded by people who are not only practicing, but living art,” Kouzoujian said. “This program exceeded all expectations. I was able to have creative freedom with my work and really prove to myself that I can do anything.”
For her final thesis, Kouzoujian compiled a video piece that broke down memories and other moments in her life into short narratives.
Elena Harvey Collins did not travel as far, but she had specific reasons for choosing CCAD.
“I came to CCAD because I wanted and needed to be able to work on a wide range of projects and mediums,” Harvey Collins said. “I liked the multidisciplinary element. I had no limitations, and this group has been very supportive. I have two kids and the program understood that; I was able to have a comfortable and safe environment for them and a flexible program for me.”
Nicole Crock in her studio
Like Kouzoujian, Harvey Collins also made a video installation. She documented everyday occurrences in an abandoned parking lot—everything from driving lessons to trash blowing in the wind.
During her time at CCAD, Harvey Collins taught an honors course on art and social practice. She is now applying for residences, fellowships, and exhibitions.
“I just want to get out and continue to learn and teach,” she said.
Nicole Crock pulls her inspiration from moving around a lot during her childhood, having never experienced the feeling of having permanent roots.
Nathan Gorgen working in his studio
“I gained a lot of confidence during my time here,” Crock said. “Art is a way of communicating an idea and I was able to voice my ideas here at CCAD and really grow as an artist.”
Crock works in a range of mediums, so the multidisciplinary aspect of the program was key to her completing her MFA.
“All of us in the program worked very closely with one another, and we were able to pull knowledge not only from our professors, but also each other,” Crock said.
She plans to stay in Columbus for the time being and wants to focus on being a full-time artist, finding studio space, and enjoying the city.
Nathan Gorgen was unsure about Columbus and what the artistic environment would consist of outside CCAD. Having lived in lively cities such as New York and Baltimore, he was used to the constant creative energy in a bustling city. He decided to study at CCAD and see what Columbus had in store—and he was impressed.
Cosby Lindquist in front of his work
“The Short North area and everything around here is focused toward the creative community, and CCAD is somewhat the epicenter of it all,” Gorgen said. “The support you have throughout this program is truly amazing. I was able to tackle ambitious projects and get a better conceptual understanding of art.”
For his final thesis, Gorgen completed an installation structure that demonstrates his combined interests in architecture and painting.
Cosby Lindquist’s final thesis project was a series of collages that wove together landscape images of Columbus and New Mexico, where he plans to move after graduation.
“Over the summer I will be teaching art classes to children at the Fuller Lodge Art Center in Los Alamos,” Lindquist said. “I will then look for adjunct teaching positions and galleries to show my work—it’s a very exciting time.”
Lindquist told himself throughout the program that he would not limit himself. He knew he had to take risks and possibly make mistakes in order to break out of his comfort zone and make the most of his MFA experience.
Woodrow Hinton III
Lindquist wasn’t the only one who thought big when it came to the program. Being part of the first graduating MFA class, Chris Harman, a Columbus native, knew he had to step it up.
“I liked being the first of this program; we set the bar high and I think that was our job,” Harman said. “We were supposed to be an example of the best artist that CCAD can produce, and I think we did that.”
Harman embraced the multidisciplinary nature of the program in his thesis project, in which he combined his glasswork with a social experiment. Glass vases and bowls were displayed in rows. Harman invited gallery visitors to step up on a podium and smash one with a gold hammer, all while being filmed.
“I really want to see how many heartstrings I can pull before one snaps,” he said. “Is the art the act of smashing the glass or the result of smashing it? That is something I want to explore and answer.”
Woodrow Hinton III agrees, believing that the overall question that an artist is always trying to answer “what is art?”
“I really enjoyed not only working alongside my peers, but also learning a lot from them and showing them my art skills and illustration niche,” Hinton said.
Amanda Rouse in her studio
His final project was a graphic novel he wrote and illustrated based on Shakespeare’s play As You Like It.
“I was able to learn so much during my time here," Hinton said. "Even though my final thesis didn’t incorporate screen printing or photography, like my classmates, I enjoyed spending time and learning alongside them. There is something to say about a learning environment when you are with artists and people who have the same interests and passions and help drive you to succeed."
Amanda Rouse spent her time at CCAD fine-tuning her work in printmaking.
Crystal Tursich in her studio
“I actually heard about CCAD while studying abroad in Italy,” Rouse said. "A couple of my friends had either visited or attended here, and I loved the entrepreneurial aspect of the school. I wanted to step up my skills and not only focus on my work, but teach and really get involved with pumping up my resume.”
Rouse will be venturing off to the west coast after graduation, planning to teach and continue her own work—and eventually hoping to open her own printmaking shop.
Crystal Tursich focused on photography for her final thesis, exploring the emotions that she has dealt with as a result of growing up as the child of an alcoholic.
“The biggest reason I chose CCAD was so I could be a part of this new MFA class," Tursich said. "It is something to say when you can be the first of something as great as this, and you can come in on a clean slate and help build the program."
Virginia Kistler in front of her installation
Tursich’s time here in Columbus left an impact, and she plans to stay in the city for a while, ultimately wanting to teach at the collegiate level.
Virginia Kistler has lived in Columbus for the last 13 years, and her final thesis project reflected her time in Columbus quite literally.
Kistler's project was centered around a light impression taken of Columbus that she expanded into a large installation piece.
Alex Conrad in front of his final thesis project
“I liked that the program at CCAD was project based, and I had an overall good vibe about my decision when I came and visited campus,” Kistler said. “During my time here I was able to get a better understanding of where I would like my work to go and develop a more contemporary feel to it.”
Inspiration can also be pulled from childhood memories, as in Alex Conrad’s case. His father was a radiologist, so Conrad would often play with X-rays and their backlighting while his father was on call. For his final project he took X-rays and MRIs of himself and embedded them in resin.
“I not only got to focus solely on my work while here, but I also was able to fine-tune how to talk, present, and write about my work, which are all important aspects in becoming a successful artist,” Conrad said.
As our new MFA graduates join the already strong group of CCAD alumni, we know they will be heading in different directions—but what will always tie them together is that CCAD was a key part of their artistic journey.