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Introducing the Fifth Year Emerging Artists


In the 2022-23 academic year, five fifth-year emerging artists (FYEA) began artist residencies. The FYEA program is designed to give graduated students within the arts a chance to build a portfolio of work provided by studio spaces. This year, five graduates from the class of 2022 who obtained studio art degrees were chosen. I was able to interview four of the artists: Aimi Dickel ’22, Theo Mattson ’22, Sylvie Deters ’22, and Kate Helin-Burnette ’22. Ivy Shonka ’22 was not available for an interview. Let’s meet the artists! 

Kate Helin-Burnette: 

Kate was involved in the arts heavily in high school in painting and drawing mediums. However, in 2020, she took her first pottery class which has become one of her favorite mediums. One summer, she was able to have an internship at a production pottery studio and clay supply shop in her home state of Montana. In addition to ceramics, she fell in love with installation art after taking a class with professor Courtney Leonard. Hence, Kate included an art installation in her senior show and is consistently testing the limits of ceramics. Currently Kate is working with porcelain and paper clay, a combination of toilet paper and clay. The fibers give the clay additional strength considering porcelain is very delicate and flimsy to work with. During the FYEA program, Kate hopes to work on an indoor and outdoor installation. Kate takes inspiration from artists Henry Moore, Austin Coudriet, Kieu Tran, and our ceramics professor Courtney Leonard. Finally, Kate’s advice to current studio art majors is to challenge yourself with new mediums and take advantage of the disciplines and resources the department has to offer.

Theo Mattson: 

Theo has been surrounded by art his entire life, as there are artists on both sides of his family. Coming into college, he knew he wanted to pursue studio art, so he dove into what the department had to offer. Some of his favorite mediums include printmaking, photography, graffiti, and drawing techniques with graphite and charcoal. Currently, Theo is working on a painting and cyanotypes, a type of photography that uses ultraviolet light, which gives the prints a blue hue. Throughout the program, he plans to cast some of his childhood toys in plaster, symbolizing the innocence of adolescence. His goal throughout the year is to amplify BIPOC student voices, including his own, through community based projects. Artists that inspire him are Francisco Goya, David Choe, his grandparents, and David Chang. Theo’s advice to current students is, if you’re struggling, take risks in your work. Try not to think too hard about the outcome. Instead, focus on the process. If you can do that, you’ll love every piece you make. He also encourages students to challenge themselves and their peers to take their work to the next level. 

Sylvie Deters:

Sylvie was surrounded by art from a young age. Her parents have always encouraged her to be creative and her mom is an art teacher. She knew she wanted to continue a path in the arts, but also wanted to explore other disciplines in college. She is intrigued by multimensional mediums including sculpture and stop-motion animation, and also enjoys 2-D mediums such as photography and painting. In using these mediums, Sylvie enjoys seeing something come to life that once originated from an idea. Currently, she is getting settled into the studio on ceramics and painting projects. Throughout the year, she plans on working on a stop-motion animation music video featuring music from her brother’s band. Some artists that inspire her are photographer Petra Collins and the instragram artist @aleia who constructs dioramas that feature snails, and general pop-culture movies and music. Sylvie’s advice to current students is to be true and honest with yourself about what you truly enjoy. 

Aimi Dickel:

Aimi has had art surrounding her for nearly her entire life. She shared she doodled in class despite having teachers be upset by it. Furthermore, she had to overcome the stereotypes surrounding studio art majors from misconceptions of being unable to find successful careers after graduation. Some of Aimi’s favorite mediums are painting or using canvas with other 2-D materials. Many of her works include saturated colors to create rich visual sensory experiences. She’s begun to experiment with glitter and other materials that reflect light. Currently, Aimi is working on copper plate prints and painting. She shared her current painting project includes a rabbit with bright red fur. It causes viewers a bit of discomfort as bunnies are typically seen as innocent and loving animals. Instead, the disturbing, muscle-tissue-like color changes the viewer’s perception of the animal. During the year, she hopes to work on bringing Asian-American stories and identities to light. Some of her favorite artists that inspire her include Muna Malik, whose work will be on campus, Hank Willis Thomas, and Tina Yu. Her advice to current students is to know when to balance when to be open-minded and when to stand your ground and have confidence in yourself.


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