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10 Questions for our alumni
Dulcee Boehm, BFA, Visual Studies, 2012
1. Why did you choose to attend Grand Valley?
I chose to attend Grand Valley originally because it wasn't only an
art school. I thought I wanted to do art, but I also wanted to be able
to take lots of different classes in completely different disciplines.
I wanted to be able to change my mind/pursue a variety of interests
extending outside of art.
In addition, I went to a really small high school and wasn't entirely sure what doing art even meant! In hindsight, my choice makes a lot of sense. Though I did end up staying with art, I am still really interested in different fields of study especially landscape architecture, sociology & anthropology.
2. How or why did you choose your major or main emphasis area?
I started out pursing my degree in Art Education, but didn't
necessarily know that's what I wanted to do. At the time it seemed
like a safe choice.
After completing the foundations program I took a whole year of studio classes along with general courses. I imagined getting those studio courses done would allow me to focus on the education component of my degree.
During that time though, Richard Estrin who was my drawing teacher kept asking me questions about my interests and suggested I consider Visual Studies. I remember being in the printmaking studio talking with him about conceptual art- which I had no idea even existed. I got really excited about being encouraged to think in a different way than I thought school would allow.
So, over many MANY suggestions from Richard I connected with Paul Wittenbraker and then decided that Visual Studies was what I wanted to do while in school. Paul, Anna Campbell and Norwood Viviano all became really important mentors through that degree. I took lots of sculpture classes especially, maintained a variety outside of art as well and got a minor in psychology.
3. What advice do you have for future students thinking about colleges?
I don't think college should be a default. There are lots of really great options and paths that are beside going to college directly after high school. I also think that people considering college should consider it as a life choice- not a job choice.
A whole lot more comes from going to college (sometimes a lot of unexpected things!) and the relationships that are made there. A diploma can be important and can equal a job, but more and more that is not a given clear transition.
If someone is considering colleges think about those other things as part of the equation- beyond what degree/s that college might provide.
4. What advice do you have for current students thinking about careers?
The relationships you make, real connections with people, are the most important things in terms of a career. This means answer your email, send thank you's, make time to see people and maintain relationships over time. This has been huge for me, and not necessarily in the sense that those connections are "networked" in such a way to equal a job. Those connections have been as helpful during times when I am not employed or struggling with work, or looking for work or dealing with the too frequent insecurity of employment.
The folks that challenge and support are important so maintaining those connections is key in my world.
5. What did you do after graduating?
I panicked! When I graduated I spent the summer working part time at Ox-Bow School of Art and I really wasn't sure what I was going to do. I had just worked so hard in school, and then it was all over. Which, at the time was a really odd sensation.
So, after that summer of working part time to make ends meet I moved back home with my parents for a couple months and was a substitute teacher in the public school system. I learned a lot! When I wasn't doing that work I was applying to artist residencies and ended up getting one for the winter in upstate New York. After that residency I was asked back to work at Ox-Bow full time for the summer and then for the next few years alternated working there and at a goat farm & creamery. From 2010 to the summer of 2018 I was involved with OxBow School of Art and it was a really important place both personally and professionally.
It gave me the access to physical resources to keep making work, but also the social situation to continuously meet new people from all over the world. I learned how to manage, I learned how to work closely with other artists over the course of years and I learned the nuts and bolts of a large-scale artist residency & nonprofit.
This work influenced my (art) work very much as did the farming. I got really excited about this idea of overlap and started to do some work directly at the places where I was employed. Documenting sounds of the farm, streaks on the glass as I did housekeeping.
6. What are you doing now?
I just finished up graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in May of 2018. After that, this past summer I worked again at Ox-Bow as the administrative assistant on campus and now I'm glad to be back at GVSU as a Visiting Professor!
In terms of my own projects, I co-founded Beyond Alternatives with one of my collaborators Cory Imig that focuses (through writings, symposiums etc) on artist-run activities & projects outside of large metropolitan areas. We have also partnered with Art F City on an archiving project to catalogue and produce publications in smaller cities that document defunct artist-run spaces. This is a long-term collaborative project spanning across the United States & Puerto Rico. Right now I am more and more interested in the ways that administrative work can be artist-centered and humane.
7. How have you used the skills you developed in your field of study in your life and/or career after GVSU?
I use them incessantly! Really, on an everyday basis I use the skills that I learned at GVSU. Applications, emails, editing images, editing websites, developing graphic content, managing budgets are all alongside things like knowing how to sew, use a table saw and confidently use a wood shop. Those skills I accumulated over time and now use pretty much each day as needed. That range is important too from digital to physical in terms of skill and knowing what tools are capable doing.
8. What is the best advice you got from an instructor at Grand Valley?
I can't think of any one sentence of advice from one instructor.
Though, all of the instructors I had at GVSU were really attentive to
the students. That's not something that happens everywhere, and I have
stayed in touch with them since graduating and I've so appreciated
that. So, there wasn't one line but a whole bunch of time that they
were willing to spend talking to me.
Some advice my mom gave me though right after I decided to be a studio art major was, "whatever you decide to do- just do it well."
9. What is your favorite memory of being a student at Grand Valley?
There's many. Though, one that stands out was a studio class that I
took taught by Anna Campbell- called Mapping New York. We spent
something like two weeks in Allendale then two weeks in NYC then we
came back and made studio work. It was such a special class, and two
of the folks I was in class with I am still good friends with today.
We went to the Guggenheim and MoMA and Dia Beacon- places I had only
Our first class meeting in the city was in Central Park at a picnic table. Sitting at that picnic table is a good memory.