Life experiences translate to works of visual art at Interlochen

Junior Sam Thiele won a Scholastic award for her paintings.

Interlochen, Mi - When visual art students arrive from around the world at Interlochen Center for the Arts, many of them know how to draw.

"When they get here and they open up to all the other media that they've never explored before, they start to find their voice in their work," said Mindy Ronayne, the Visual Arts director. "They realize they can actually express themselves in a way that's not just observational drawing. A light bulb goes off and there's no stopping them."

The program includes painting, metals, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, fibers, photography, digital art, and new genres.

"I love when students realize their passion in art. To help them find that passion is amazing," said Ronayne.

One of those students is junior Sam Thiele who spends practically every free moment working on her art.

"She is here from seven in the morning before classes, she's here during her breaks, she's here during the entire arts block working, the building is open until ten at night and she's working that entire time," explained Ronayne. "She comes in on the weekends and that's not unlike many of our students."

"It's what I want to do," said Thiele. "It's what I love to do, so why would I be anywhere else?"

Juniors and seniors are put to work on a thesis project.

"Classes like our portfolio development and our senior thesis class help the students come up with their ideas," said Ronayne. "We have them relate it to themselves. So nobody else is going to have a piece that is similar to theirs because it's about them and their experiences. We don't we don't just produced cookie-cutter students that have all learned how to draw this still life the same way and move on."

"There's a kind of honesty to them," Thiele said. "My work is focused on mainly mental illness and the events that happened to cause me to be diagnosed with PTSD and how I deal with that now."

Her art now helps her on the road to recovery.

"It helps me work through it and kind of understand things more. It was a huge part of recovery for me so it was really good. I think what I love most about art is kind of self expression, being able to show my ideas and everything to everyone. It's important to me."

The artwork has even gotten her recognition. Thiele was recently awarded the American Vision award from Scholastic.

"It's so inspiring to see these students who are just starting off here and have a hand in helping them discover that and having the confidence in themselves to continue that in college," said Ronayne.

If you'd like to see more of the artwork produced by students, the gallery is open from 10 to 6 every weekday.

Here are links to the special reports on all of the different departments: Dance, Comparative Arts, Theater, Motion Picture Arts, Music, & Creative Writing.

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