SAN MARCOS, Texas – As we approach the end of the spring semester, students across Texas State University prepare for graduation. For most, graduating college is the key that gives them access to new opportunities in the job market that were previously unattainable. For students in the School of Art and Design, finding a career after graduation isn’t so cut and dry.
Studio Art majors at Texas State can pick from a wide variety of concentrations ranging from painting, sculpture, communication design, metals, and even expanded media. Students work through their major exploring various mediums until they reach their thesis classes. Thesis 1 gives the artist time to find what they want to create and how to execute it. Thesis 2 is when the artist executes their vision and displays it for the public to view.
Monica Bugh is a Studio Art student with a concentration in ceramics. Originally, she had been a sculpture student. She found that clay was her favorite medium, so she switched her concentration. She’s currently in her thesis 2 portion, preparing for graduation. The exit piece she is working on is currently titled “American Beauty Honorary Italian.”
“I make these architecturally inspired sculptures that pull from the imagery of Southern Italy where I’m from,” Bugh explained about her ceramics. “…I guess as a way to like process, you know, feelings of like, longing and maybe separation from that culture, just because all my family’s over there.”
Monica’s mother is the only family she has from her Italian side of the family. Her desire to reconnect with this side of her culture has driven her towards returning.
“My plan is to move to Italy and live with family that I have over there and hopefully set up a studio in the basement,” Bugh said. “…Just like learn the ropes of… getting to be a full-time artist, I guess for a bit before I have to, you know, find a job and support myself…”
Though her aspirations may seem like they’ve been written for the script of a film, Monica’s ideal studio is one that’s modest and cozy.
“…my image of it completed is like shelves all over the walls, a kiln in one of the corners, and a wheel and a work table, and hopefully some buckets for glaze. Just like bare minimum, honestly.”
Pursuing ceramics as a career may seem like a difficult task for most, but for Monica she’s simply following her passion. A degree just opens more doors for opportunity by giving her professional connections and insight.
Her boyfriend, Clayton Caulson, is also a ceramics student working on his thesis. His thesis piece, entitled “Collusion in an Ill-Conceived System” is about financial corruption.
“So it deals with corruption that is motivated by self-interest and is for financial gain. It’s grounded in research, and it deals with real examples of corruption,” Clayton explained. “…I’m passionate about like learning about… abuses of power and it’s just kind of like, I get like passionately angry, so I figured why not make art about it?”
Clayton will be traveling with Monica in August to southern Italy. In Italy, Clayton hopes to find a printmaking residency. Residencies are a popular alternative to employment for art students post-higher-education. This allows them to continue honing their craft and become a true master.
“So there’s a website called Res Artis, and you can narrow it down from like, what continent? Or like search for a residency, narrow it down from continent to country, to city, to medium or discipline, and even like what languages they speak…”
The residency was brought to his attention by faculty member Jeffery Dell. Residencies offered are limited and competitve.
“Residencies that our students have succeeded in obtaining immediately after graduating include The Line Hotel in Austin, the Craft Center in Houston, one in California a couple years ago, and a few others.”
Clayton originally wanted to pursue a residency in ceramics to further his knowledge of the medium, but another residency caught his eye.
“I really, really like intaglio, which is the process of engraving into a metal plate and printmaking. And it actually is like an Italian word… So I figured that would be an amazing place to further my practice in that.”
Monica and Clayton’s pieces will both be on display as the semester ends. Monica’s piece will be viewable from May 1-6, and Clayton’s will be displayed May 8-13. You can view them at the TXST galleries on the second floor of the Joann Cole Mitte art building.
Josselin Soto Cruz is another art student graduating this spring. Over the last month she’s been diligently working on her metal pieces
Some of the artists featured in this story were kind enough to let me view their exit pieces as they were creating them.
Even students who aren’t graduating are bringing new art to the San Marcos scene. Local music enthusiasts can expect to see a new act this summer.