Inspiring the Next Generation of Artists


Poised to graduate with her Bachelor of Arts degree in art this month, Carrie Converse '13 of Pittsfield, Mass., was comfortable with MCLA's campus and the faculty right from the start.

"All of my professors have been extremely helpful in my college career, as they each have brought their individual artistic experiences, skills and insights to the classroom. The personal and professional changes that I developed as a student at MCLA are countless," she said.

Converse does not recall a time in her life when she was not creating art that she describes as "some sort of recombination of my perceptions of existence." She aims for a career teaching art to elementary school-aged children.

"As a young child with an upbringing in poverty, I developed a non-materialistic mindset," she explained. "While most of my time was spent in my bedroom, I could also be seen sitting in a tree reading science and religious books. This attempt to comprehend how the world works permitted me to convey my findings through my art.

"I want to provide students with an outlet to express their ideas, as well as innovative artistic approaches in cleaning up our polluted environment."

Throughout her childhood, Converse created art with found objects. She also drew and painted surreal images. At MCLA, she discovered a fascination with making artist books and working with plastic bags.

"During an artist bookmaking course taught by Professor Melanie Mowinski in 2010, my most inventive idea was to utilize the techniques of making books to create a plastic book from newspaper plastic bags," she explained. "The main focus of my recent artwork is a long continuance in creating a new purpose for otherwise unwanted plastics."

As a result, her senior art project is a combination of sculptural plastic works that are in reference to an acrylic paint series that also will be included in the senior exhibit.

"These artworks reflect the beauty in all existence. It continues on the notion that what we choose to think feel and act upon inevitably impacts all that exists," Converse said.

A volunteer for last year's DownStreet Art effort, she spent a good deal of time helping out in Mowinski's PRESS gallery.

"This activity contributed to my growth as an artist and in general in building communication skills with the public, and inspired me in my own artistic processes," Converse said. "I also learned how to manage an art gallery through hands-on experience and observing various tasks. It also offered me connections with many other more-established artist and venues."

One day, Converse would like to open her own hybrid storefront for local teens in her hometown of Pittsfield.

Her advice to potential MCLA students? She suggests that they give their professors' advice for new approaches to learning a try.

"Before I attended college, sketching and writing out all of my ideas was not something that I practiced regularly. This brainstorming technique has become one of my greatest assets in creating my work to its fullest potential."