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What it's like to study Fine Arts at Centenary

Sara Freeman ’12

Fine Arts major

Centenary College Fine Arts major »

Growing up, Sara Freeman ‘12 couldn’t imagine herself going to any college but Centenary. “When I was young, my mother [Beth Freeman, who now works in Strategic Advancement] worked in the library here, so I spent most of my childhood exploring the campus,” she explains. “Centenary has always been a great part of my life. It feels like home to me.”

What Sara didn’t know for certain was what she would study: “I came in undecided about my studies and, as a sophomore, declared a major in Biology. It wasn’t the right fit for me, but I didn’t know what else to pursue.” After taking a drawing course with Professor Carol Yoshimine, however, Sara realized she had an “untapped talent” for visual art and switched her major to Fine Arts. “Professor Yoshimine helped me to find the right path. With her guidance, I saw that I had the potential to be successful.”

Sara’s course load consists of classes like painting and printmaking, as well as courses outside her major. “Art classes are time-consuming,” she comments, “but I wouldn’t have it any other way.” She describes her professors as “inspiring and confidence-building. They see the beauty in each student’s individual style and are never discouraging.” Her career goals include employment at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as well as working as a graphic designer.

“I would advise students who are looking to major in art to come to Centenary,” says Sara. “This is a great department. The instructors are fantastic and see the uniqueness of each artist’s work. Being an art major is gratifying; it’s not every day that you get to spend an entire class with your iPod on full blast, expressing what you feel through your work.” College, she explains, “is the time for an adventure — to find out who you are and what you can do. The Fine Arts department at Centenary is perfect for that!”

Donald Cooper ’07

Owner, The Cooperage Cultural Atelier & Coffee Pub

Centenary College Fine Arts major »

While most Centenary students are exploring potential career paths for the first time, Donald Cooper ’07, who received an A.A.S. degree in Printing Technology from Lincoln University in Jefferson, Mo. in 1984, had already established himself as a professional artist when he came to campus. “Over the years, I’d worked as a draftsman for engineers, a foundry molder in the U.S. Navy, a commercial printer, and a painter/interior finisher,” he remarks. “I also founded The Cooperage Unified Schools of the Fine Arts, which I ran for five years.”

Donald enrolled at Centenary to pursue the Fine Arts degree he’d begun to pursue at East Carolina University in the 1970s. “Centenary provided me with the studio environment I needed to make some personal artistic breakthroughs,” he explains. “It allowed me to evaluate myself professionally in comparison to both traditional students and members of the faculty. I was able to grow both artistically and academically during my time at there, and I earned the degree I’d always wanted.”

Today, Donald is the proud owner of The Cooperage Cultural Atelier & Coffee Pub, where he divides his time between customer service, marketing, administrative work, coffee roasting and packaging, routine maintenance, and preparing to sell his coffee at festivals and other venues. His shop includes an art gallery and space for live music. “My business supports fine art, music, and all culture,” he comments.

Donald encourages art students hoping to establish themselves as self-sustaining professionals to “take some elective business classes alongside your major requirements.” With his successful and diverse career, this Centenary graduate’s advice is invaluable.

Angela Figurelli, ’07

Fine Arts graduate

Centenary College Fine Arts major »

Angela Figurelli ’07 fondly recalls her alma mater’s “beautiful campus and close-knit environment.” At Centenary, she explains, “classes are small, and your professors actually know your name. It’s not like at some colleges where you are just a number.”

Angela, who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design, was happy to receive so much personal attention from her instructors. “I’ve always wanted to pursue art professionally, and my art professors gave me constructive criticism that helped me to improve my skills,” she comments. “They encouraged me to work hard to become the artist I want to be.” In addition to her major coursework, Angela selected classes covering a variety of topics “so I could be as well-rounded as possible.”

“One of my career goals is to find a job teaching art,” Angela explains. “I want to inspire students the way my Centenary professors inspired me. I’d encourage anyone to apply. It’s a great school!”

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