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Looking at the bigger picture

Knierman discusses college and career opportunities in the visual arts field

PICTURE+THIS%3A+Pictured+above+is+one+of+senior+Rachel+Knierman%E2%80%99s+most+recent+paintings+portraying+a+violinist.+This+painting+is+to+be+used+in+an+upcoming+violin+competition.
PICTURE THIS: Pictured above is one of senior Rachel Knierman’s most recent paintings portraying a violinist. This painting is to be used in an upcoming violin competition.

PICTURE THIS: Pictured above is one of senior Rachel Knierman’s most recent paintings portraying a violinist. This painting is to be used in an upcoming violin competition.

Photo by Elizabeth Bradley

Photo by Elizabeth Bradley

PICTURE THIS: Pictured above is one of senior Rachel Knierman’s most recent paintings portraying a violinist. This painting is to be used in an upcoming violin competition.

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Senior AP Art student Rachel Knierman is one of the few people willing to brave the storm that is the visual arts career path despite the underrepresentation it receives in both the education system and the career world.  To Knierman, art is an expression of the mind, body and soul; it gives her life and drives her emotions.

“I love to paint, but I especially love to paint realistically,” Knierman said. “It gives a painting life.”

Lifelike is a more-than-apt description of Knierman’s work, and the time and effort she pours into each piece is evident in her plethora of detailed work.

“Rachel’s work is pretty exceptional, especially her portrait paintings,” visual arts department chairperson and AP Studio Art teacher Mr. Mark Stratton said.

Having had an affinity for art since childhood, Knierman honed her craft throughout high school and currently plans to pursue a career in art, preferably as a local portrait painter in Indiana. Far from a mere pipe dream, Knierman is already making strides to achieve this goal with a bit of guidance from Stratton.

“When [Mr. Stratton] said portrait painter at first, I did not believe I had the talent to do that,” Knierman said. “I was scared at the idea of being self-employed, but he gave me a lot of encouragement.”

Of course, in order to reach this point in her career path, Knierman has to be willing to undergo the rigor involved, but she clearly is prepared to do so. At the suggestion of Stratton, Knierman has already entered and placed in several art competitions outside of school, including Scholastic art contests and the upcoming Cecil Head Fine Arts Scholarship competition.

As with many career decisions, the encouragement and guidance of teachers and instructors is pivotal, particularly so in a field that calls for as much ambition as the visual arts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Artists and Related Workers” have a national employment of approximately 7,040 (15.69 percent employment within arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations) and is projected to grow by five percent by 2026; however, these statistics do not account for self-employed artists.

Consequently, visual artistry, portrait painting included, is definitely not a career path pushed as heavily in today’s high school environment as those in subjects based on core curriculum subjects. As a result, many students are left unaware of the possibilities that this path actually entails apart from stereotypical depictions of starving artists.

“People need to realize that everything [people] have–their house, their car, their phone, their shoes–was once designed and touched by a visual artist,” Stratton explained.

It’s extremely important that schools have teachers like Stratton to educate their students on all the opportunities that await them. It is because of teachers like Stratton that students like Knierman feel the confidence to pursue careers that might not be considered traditional.

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Looking at the bigger picture