Inaugural Alumni Artist in Residence Reflects

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By Liz Smith, Associate Chair | Associate Professor of Art, Ceramics »

Anna Wagner, 2020 BFA- Ceramics Emphasis, was our 2022/2023 Alumni Artist in Residence. With the work she made during this residency she applied for and was accepted into many graduate schools including the top ceramics program in the country, was chosen as Ceramic Monthly’s 2023 Emerging Artist for the second time, was accepted into multiple juried exhibitions and secured an additional solo exhibition.

The UCA Department of Art and Design Alumni Artist in Residency will be offered again during the 2023/2024 academic year. If you are a soon to be or are a recent graduate of our department I hope you consider applying to this amazing opportunity. Brief information can be found on the Department of Art & Design website by clicking here. Fill out the application form here.

Anna Wagner
BFA Studio Art, Emphasis Ceramics

OVERSTIMULATED, Ceramic, Mixed Materials, 2022

OVERSTIMULATED, Ceramic, Mixed Materials, 2022 – photo supplied by Anna Wagner

Regarding her residency, Anna Wagner had this to say, “Being a UCA Department of Art and Design Alumni Resident helped me have the time and space to create a portfolio to apply for graduate school, which was my primary goal for this residency. Connecting to the students and being back in the ceramic studio supported my creative development and provided time, space and equipment to achieve my goals.

I used part of the stipend to travel to Pennsylvania, where I visited the Andy Warhol Museum, the Moderne Gallery, Penn State University, and the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University. The remaining provided support for my day to day living and studio materials.

Beyond studio time the program also requires the Alumni Artist in Residence present a workshop, an artist talk, and a solo exhibition. Before this, I had never run an independent workshop nor had I ever had a gallery space to myself for a solo show. When it came time to present my workshop, I was very nervous. But once I started getting into the work and talking about my process, the nerves just vanished. Presenting this for the first time back at UCA helped it feel like I was in a room with friends, just talking and making connections. It was an amazing turnout! And such good practice, too. I had a remarkable time being a resident. The program really helped me in so many ways and has given me more confidence as I dive into my future endeavors.

When I was an undergraduate student; I was anxious, ambivalent, and naïve about which direction to take my career. And in many ways, I still am. I am still a young artist trying to figure out my path—but that’s okay! We are all in a constant state of learning, making mistakes, and juggling through the courses of our lives along the way. However, there are many young potential artists who do not witness that side of this career path. Often it is difficult for undergraduate students to envision what art as a profession entails because they most often see only the outcome rather than the work and obstacles it takes to get there. We have all taken baby steps through our class courses; listened to the advice and guidance from our professors, and had discussions with the multiple big-time professional artists that come through here. Still, all I knew as a graduating senior was how to just start this career and what that outcome might look like if it continued. Everyone will have different journeys of getting to that point. That’s why this Alumni Residency is important, it allows students to witness and interact with a young artist in the process of starting their career. I hope I provided inspiration for current UCA students to take chances and be confident in pursuit of their future professional goals during and after they graduate from UCA. With more alumni participating in the Department of Art and Designs’ Alumni Artist is Residence program, I believe current students will have even more constructive conversations with faculty and peers about how to achieve the artistic professional goals they choose beyond academia.”