Second Year Students Put Creativity to Work with the New Sophomore Studio Class

December 10, 2019

If you have been on campus lately, you may have noticed a few unexpected pieces popping up in a few unexpected places. From a tree growing out of the basement floor to an instructional video on narcissism in the staff break room, it seems there is something new to see around every corner. And while an art school is no stranger to curious sights, these projects all have one particular thing in common. These original works were all researched, planned, and executed by the underclassmen of the college’s first Sophomore Studio course. 

Through this newly developed class, these students have been introduced to what it means to run their own projects over the past semester. The course was introduced as part of the new foundation curriculum instituted last year, that emphasizes skills in 2-D, 3-D, and 4-D elements. Sophomore Studio serves as the culmination of the foundation course work and provides students complete independence to choose what they would like to create. With the first few weeks of the course dedicated to research and planning, each student proposed their initial ideas to course faculty and fellow students for approval and feedback. After that stage, however, students had only one instruction for the next eight weeks – get to work.

“This was our chance to take the training wheels off,” said Sarah Trahan, an instructor leading one of three sessions of the course. While these students have gone through several rounds of critiques throughout the semester, instructors take particular care to make sure projects are self-driven and that these sophomores are given agency over all decisions regarding conceptual content and media. Through this, they hope to push these young students’ sense of experimentation and personal expression to explore new artistic possibilities and discover how to make them a reality.

“We really just served as project managers” explained Chealsea Sams, another of the course’s instructors, “Students had to build their own budgets, figure out who to ask for permission for installation space, find who on campus to turn to for specific supplies and resources, and work together to execute everything from start to finish.” 

However, the course objective is not necessarily focused on the success or failure of the final result. Instead, the instructors’ emphasis was on preparing these students for what lies ahead for both their future course work and eventual careers. With students allowed to take the reins so early on in their time at Montserrat, faculty hopes these students will be more confident with their ability to conceptualize and execute projects, producing even more ambitious work in the future. 

“This is all to prepare them,” said Sams “So by the time they become seniors and are working on thesis projects, they are comfortable with planning and they are familiar with who on campus to reach out to for help.”

Check out how their hard work paid off with some of the project images below:


Work by Una Reid and McKenzie Cutt


Work by Lysandre Reyes


 Work by Zee Morrell, Maria Chaney and Carter Fluckiger


 Work by Fernanda Diaz


Work by Maddison Wallace


Video: “How to Spot a Narcissist” – Alex Babcock