If you’ve recently visited the Department of Art+Design, you may have noticed the paintings and drawings of Dani Yates and Gabby Park. Yates and Park, who are both fine arts studio majors, created this work during the summer while they were at Mount Gretna School of Art (MGSoA).
Mount Gretna School of Art (MGSoA) is an immersive summer study program located in southeastern Pennsylvania. It was founded by Art+Design alum Jay Noble (1999).
Park, now a junior at AU, was excited to “see if I could live off of art only,” she says. She hoped to discover what it would really be like to be an artist, focused solely on making art, painting every day.
The core focus at MGSOA is landscape painting, which was unfamiliar territory for Yates. As the youngest student there, she was overwhelmed at first. It was hard to not compare herself to the other students who had more experience. She also explains, “[Painting] was harder with landscape, because you have the whole world you can paint.”
Park agrees that landscape was more difficult than she expected. “At first I was really lost,” she says, “with all these trees that look the same, and all this green.”
Before long, however, both students settled into a rhythm. Painting in the morning, drawing in the afternoon — or open studio. Several times a week their professors gave artist talks on their own work. Visiting artists came to give critiques.
As they spent more time painting, things started to click. Yates credits Glen Cebulash, one of the painting professors at MGSOA, for helping her become acclimated. “Glen told me to look where nature frames itself. He was really helpful,” she says.
Park recalls focusing on one tree at a time, making a portrait of each. “I tried to paint ugly trees, [and I] gave them names,” she laughs. Park also tried painted the clouds, and found herself interested in capturing specific moments in nature. “It was fun, since the nature changed so much,” she says.
During their six weeks in the program, Yates and Park went on museum trips to Philadelphia and New York. Without doubt, this was one of the highlights of their experience. In addition to the glamour of being in a major metropolitan center, Yates realized that visiting the museums helps “You learn how to appreciate art, and it was a lot of fun.” Park enjoyed visiting the museums with so many other artists. “Everyone talked about art only. Art all the time. I really loved that,” she remembers.
What Park loved the most about the program was being a part of an artist community, “living with people who respected me as an individual artist, not just as a student.” Professors and students alike shared tips and gave demos on various techniques. All the students lived in cottages with each other, and different groups took turns making dinner for their whole community. Through this, Park says, “We bonded and became a family … we all shared.”
Yates agrees. Although she spent a long time away from home, she made great friends, “who became like family.” She was challenged, and she learned a lot. Looking back, Yates concludes, “It was a really good growing experience for me.”
The Department of Art+Design at Anderson University offers majors in the areas of fine arts studio, visual communication design, and general studies in art+design. Students gain experience through intensive studio practice, professional internships, and by working closely with a faculty of professional artists and designers.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.