Friday, November 04, 2005

Graduate assistantship provides networks and experience for the future

By Melanie Cain

Last spring, when Lara Stremsterfer was enrolled in a painting class, the professor, Mike Miller, approached her about applying for the graduate assistantship as manager of UIS’ Visual Arts Gallery. “This offer enticed me because I have always loved art, and I create my own art from time to time, though I never saw myself pursuing art professionally,” says Lara. “With my education background in communication and visual arts, along with my AST internship experience in event planning, I could not have chosen a better fit for an assistantship!”

Lara was born and raised in Springfield and received her A.A. degree in Liberal Arts from Springfield College in Illinois, where she played volleyball and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She graduated from UIS in May, with a bachelor’s degree in Communication and a minor in Visual Arts. She is currently enrolled as a full-time graduate student and serves as the graduate assistant of the Visual Arts Gallery.

“Every day brings a new task at the gallery,” explains Lara. “I am usually preparing for exhibitions by contacting artists, writing press releases for upcoming shows, speaking with local media about the gallery, preparing postcards and mailings to be sent around the area, or just answering questions that guests have about the featured artist’s work. I also work closely with my supervisor, Visual Arts faculty member Jonathan Perkins, on preparing for shows.”

“My favorite thing about being the gallery manager is getting to enjoy art while engaging in all the behind- the- scene action in preparation for our monthly shows,” says Lara. “Working with artists, faculty members, students, the UIS family, and the Springfield community will, I hope, open doors toward a career in event planning.

“I feel very fortunate to be a part of the graduate assistant program here at UIS,” says Lara. “In addition to easing the tuition burden, being a GA has already provided me with great work experience and has introduced me to a network of professionals, on campus and in the Springfield area.”

The gallery’s current show, “Digital Environments” by Mike Miller, is on display through November 23. The gallery will host an evening with the artist on Thursday, November 10, beginning with an artist’s talk at 5:30 p.m. followed by an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. The talk, reception, and exhibit are free and open to the public. Miller is chair of the Visual Arts Program at UIS, where he teaches painting and drawing. His work combines the unique appearance of digital imagery with traditional painting and printmaking processes.

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