Plains Art Museum gets FM artfully happy about creative education

By Narjes Al-Bakshy

The Plains Art Museum in downtown Fargo will host Art School 3.0: An Artful Happy Hour on Nov. 4, from 6 – 7 p.m. The free and open-to-the-public event focuses on the study of art in the Tri-College community.

Led by the museum’s CEO, Colleen Sheehy, art students, faculty, instructors and enthusiasts are welcome to sip on complimentary beverages while conversing about various aspects of art, ranging from a philosophical approach to a practical one.

“It’s not just a matter of being able to draw or paint, but to think creatively, be a problem- solver, and connect with people and organizations,” Sheehy said. Topics of the dialogue include: art in the 21st century, the role of artists in the future and how the field is adapting to recent technologies.

After the discussion, three art professors from NDSU, MSUM and Concordia College will speak about how their programs match the expectations of artists in the 21st century. Michael Strand, Kelli Sinner and Peter Schultz will share tips and advice about what it takes to be the next generation of artists, as well as what to expect in the art industry after graduating.

The speakers were chosen by Sheehy based on their knowledge of the art programs of NDSU, MSUM and Concordia.

“They are the current chairs of the art departments at the three schools,” Sheehy said. “So they are involved as leaders in their programs have a good understanding of curriculum and program goals.”

The talk urges young artists to embrace new trends in an industry that is constantly changing.

“I push students to consider the nature of art beyond the traditional models that they have been taught,” Strand said. “It is all about unpacking pre-conceived notions of what ‘artist’ means, and looking broadly at the way artists are connected to the world.”

Art programs at universities are aware of the innovations occurring in the art industry and accommodate the necessary classes for students. They hope for students to graduate equipped with the knowledge they need to succeed in the industry.

“With (art) majors, we are adding both design-thinking and education tracks to our program, which will open up further partnerships across (NDSU) campus,” Strand said. “This increases the opportunities for our students to be successful after graduation.”

Self-taught artists are not as common as before because of the changing dynamic of a career in art. Having a degree in art can take an artist to the next level.

“There’s a lot of competition in the art field, so making the investment in time, discipline, and money is important if you want to be a professional artist,” Sheehy said.

After the event, visitors are invited to view the “Art Boom” exhibition, which features works from 24 professors and instructors at the university level. Strand has an art piece, “Code,” which is part of the exhibition.

“I hope this discussion will open students’ eyes about the thought that goes in to running an arts program and curriculum,” Sheehy said. “These ideas are pertinent around the country, and they’ll find out more about how these schools think about artistic training.”

The museum encourages young artists to visit their exhibitions to learn about new trends in art, to network with other artists and to take art classes offered in The Center of Creativity. Being a proactive member of the art community is the gateway to a successful career.

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