Artists who Thrive on Real-World Application

This story is featured in the Spring 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s School of Art and Design set students up with experiential learning opportunities and real-world application. 

Graduates from the School of Art and Design produce impressive results.

Imagine you’re a college student learning from designers who created signature graphics for the Harry Potter films — from the famous lightning bolt to newspapers with moving pictures.

Those designers, known as Mina Lima, are halfway around the world, but your High Point University professor arranged this digital meet and greet and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

You could be walking in the footsteps of Walt Disney with one of the original Imagineers who worked alongside Disney’s creator — someone responsible for designs like the Haunted Mansion and the Enchanted Tiki Room. HPU students embarked on this special journey during their fall break.

Or you could be assisting clients in a Calvin Klein showroom at furniture market in downtown High Point, where thousands of design and furniture professionals gather twice each year.

These are students’ experiences in HPU’s School of Art and Design. Experiential curriculum combined with opportunities not found elsewhere prepares graduates to connect their talents with relevant careers around the world.


Results Rooted in Hands-On Experience

Students studying graphic design, studio art, interior design or visual merchandising have a world of color and professional experiences awaiting them.

Sometimes professors take students to New York City to tour Google headquarters and meet famous artists. Other times, students embark on an Italy Maymester, a two-week global experience that shows them the avenues where their lives can lead.

“You never know who you will meet or where you will make connections and have the opportunity to network,” says Maddie Travell, ‘18, of Middlesburg, Virginia. “HPU is teeming with resources, advice and a great network.”

This approach helped Travell launch her career as a visual merchandiser at Nordstrom in Pentagon City, Virginia. Travell built her artistic design skills but also applied them to real-world projects.

“Dr. Victoria Brown in the visual merchandising department had unique classes that focused on the fashion side of visual merchandising, as well as real-world applications,” says Travell.

“We were able to create displays for the ShowTime textile tradeshow at furniture market. We even redesigned the concept and


layout of a store at a nearby popular shopping center. Dr. Brown’s projects made us problem solve issues that occur with businesses we see every day.”

That’s the goal — to instill within students the skills they need to navigate their complex careers.

“The students’ actions and decisions are informed by deep thinking, which makes them very flexible, adaptable and thoughtful as they encounter numerous challenges throughout their life,” says Dr. John Turpin, dean of the School of Art and Design.


Lasting Lessons in Life Skills

These experiences help students develop life skills — the ability to communicate with others, solve complex problems and continue learning and growing throughout one’s career.

“While understanding theory is crucial, it is not until it is activated that it becomes a useful tool to move society forward,” says Turpin. “Our emphasis on experiential learning allows students to manipulate abstract concepts and bring them into our physical world.”

Ally-Catherine Trenary gained the expertise and skills she needed to start her own business only two years after graduation. Today, her company takes custom rug orders and brings their clients’ visions to life.

Trenary’s interest in textiles started at HPU. She credits the university for helping her get the most out of the experience.

“When presenting my work at exhibitions, I was complimented several times about the presentation of my textiles and my professional business appearance,” says Trenary. “HPU and the interior design faculty have taught all of us how to present ourselves in a positive light.”

Megan Buczynski, a 2018 interior design graduate from Pasadena, Maryland, completed two different internships at Christopher Guy and Miles Talbot Furniture before joining the team at Furnitureland South. She’s now a design consultant who gained technical competence in her field along with the real-world know-how to apply it in her career.

“At Furnitureland South, my position is just as much sales as it is design,” says Buczynski. “HPU taught me not only how to solve a client’s problem through creativity and knowledge, but also how to brand myself.”

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