Mount Prospect, Ill.
Michelle Didier has always been devoted to her art. So when she came to Carthage, she knew she wanted to major in the subject.
“Art has always been my No. 1 passion,” she said. “From an early age, I dreamed of being an artist. I was skeptical of choosing art as a major because there is a widespread belief that it is not practical for the ‘real world.’ After taking 2D art sophomore year, I realized it was the first class I truly devoted my time and energy to. It was the first class I really loved. I was also informed of the many career options possible by studying studio art.”
For Michelle, a big draw to Carthage was its small class sizes. She appreciates the connection that is made between professors and students within the Art Department.
“You really get to know your professors and peers and form very strong relationships with them,” she said. “These relationships are extremely beneficial. All of my studio professors are talented artists and very inspiring as well. … I have great respect for all my professors, which are more like facilitators. They have given me all the tools and freedom to experiment that I need as an artist to execute my own concepts efficiently.
“All studio classes have critiques where you and your fellow students discuss your completed works. They are often pretty relaxed, comfortable and very helpful,” she said.
Michelle says Carthage’s focus on liberal arts has made her into a more open-minded person, and has taught her how to approach problems from many different angles to find a solution. Outside of the opportunities presented to her through the Art Department, J-Term is one of Michelle’s favorite things about studying at Carthage. She thinks that having students with a variety of majors in one class allows for a more dynamic discussion.
“J-Term is amazing! It is one class Monday through Friday for three hours. The rest of the time you get to play,” she said. “You can take the most random classes outside your major if you choose and meet all different kinds of people. Freshman year I took the course Understanding AIDS, which was so incredible. My junior year I took a class with Kim Greene and Professor Kirkland where Kim let me disassemble a musical organ because there was one sitting in the sculpture room, and I expressed some curiosity.”
“This major requires a lot of passion, curiosity, and commitment.”
Art therapist and artist
How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?
“This is a tough one! I love all my professors for different reasons. Kim Greene has had a strong presence in my education from the beginning. I would consider her my mentor. Her classes led me to ceramic sculpture. She has encouraged me to push past conflicts and supposed limitations and, most importantly, has given me the confidence I hadn’t had before Carthage. I also greatly respect Connie Wolfe as a professor and friend. Connie teaches printmaking and her instruction and body of work has given me a lot of inspiration. She is very good at identifying the specific strengths of all her students and working with them.”
“I would have to say Advanced Ceramics. This was the first class where I was in total control of my work. Kim gave me the freedom to explore an idea I presented to her within the first week of class. I was able to ask Kim questions and voice concerns along the way. The result of that semester was the first piece of art I was genuinely proud of. This sculpture set the tone for the rest of the body of work I continue to build.”
“Easy, Art Survey II with Professor Hudson. Professor Hudson expects a lot from her students because she is very passionate about what she teaches and truly wants her students to learn. I was skeptical of her instruction at first and the enormous amount of work required, but I learned so much from her class. My appreciation for art history expanded greatly and exposed me to past artists I now turn to for inspiration. I’m really glad she pushed us as hard as she did.”
Favorite moments and memories at Carthage
“Forming strong friendships, J-Term, the few times it’s warm enough to go to the beach, completing work I’m really proud of and sharing it with others, moving out of the dorms.”
Favorite spot on campus
“The ceramic and sculpture studios! I also love sitting on the rocks on the beach.”
Biggest surprise so far
“Carthage is warm maybe one or two months of the school year. They try to hide that when you express interest in enrolling. It becomes bearable though. Uggs are not sufficient footwear for walking down campus drive during J-Term. Friends are surprisingly easy to make. It’s a small campus, and for the most part people are pretty friendly.”
Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?
“If you are truly passionate about art, go for it! This major requires a lot of passion, curiosity, and commitment. You will be given a lot of freedom here and will find it is what you make of it. There are tons of resources available to all students; use them!”