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Mar 23rd, 2023

Experts By Design

This story is featured in the Fall 2022 edition of the HPU Magazine.

Students in the David R. Hayworth School of Arts and Design make professional connections in all areas of the arts.

For many aspiring interior designers, gaining hands-on experience and networking at the world’s largest premier furnishing and design trade show, the High Point Market, is a goal.

To HPU interior design students, the experience is merely an extension of their curriculum.

The biannual event attracts industry leaders around the globe and provides students with experiential learning opportunities to network with experts in the industry.

Coming to HPU, Anastasia Avlonitis was eager to take advantage of this opportunity she knew would set her up for success.

“I wanted to gain the hands-on experience I heard so much about,” she says.

In the spring of 2022, Avlonitis walked into her second High Point Market experience with confidence. She worked with Regina Andrew, a lifestyle brand that specializes in unique lighting, furniture and decor designs, to help clients with orders and take them through the showroom.

“I used my creative thoughts within sales and helped customers make decisions on what kind of finishes or products they wanted,” says the junior interior design major from Westchester County, New York. “One of the reasons I chose to go to HPU for interior design is because of these great networking opportunities.”

Alumni design experts

Real-World Rewards

Interior design students learn all facets of design, from ideation to execution. They gain experience working on design software such as Revit and AutoCAD and learn about design history, spatial theories and everything in between.

It’s rigorous but rewarding.

“Application of all facets of design make these students highly marketable to employers and flexible in the workplace,” says Dr. Jane Nichols, chair and associate professor of interior design and director of the High Point Design Institute. “It is no surprise many of our graduates already have positions at major firms in Denver, New York City and Nashville, while others are pursuing advanced degrees.”

Not only do students have the skills to launch a successful design career, but they have expert insight, too. In addition to daily mentorship from expert professors, students also connect with industry leaders on campus and at the High Point Market.

A few of the celebrity designers students connect with include Magnolia mogul Joanna Gaines; interior design expert Thom Felicia from the Emmy Award-winning show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy;” celebrity designer, speaker and author Charlotte Moss; and many more.

Not All About Acting

Theater is more than acting. It’s many aspects that contribute to the art — props, makeup, marketing, stage management, ushering and more. And HPU theater students learn them all.

Students are in rehearsals five days a week. It’s where they grow as professionals and as a community.

“You really gain that company experience and create a community around you,” says Class of 2022 graduate Hailey Turner. “The theater department becomes your home. When you’re not there, you wish you were.”

Turner, who worked as an assistant venue manager at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, over the summer, double majored in theater and English at HPU.

Theater and dance operate under a “company philosophy.” With two theater shows and one dance concert a semester, theater majors audition for dance performances, and dancers audition for theater performances.

“There are so many opportunities, and faculty are dedicated to making sure you get where you want to be,” says Turner.

Students have ample opportunities, such as one-of-a-kind master classes taught by experts who have achieved the level of success students aspire to reach.

That’s where students connect with experts, including Joanna Jones, who played Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds in “Hamilton” on Broadway; Radio City Rocket Shelby Finnie, who starred in “The Prom” on Broadway and “Jesus Christ Superstar” live on NBC; and Dominick Amendum, who directed music for “Wicked” and “The Prince of Egypt” in London’s West End.

The Graphic Difference

Graphic design students have the freedom to be creative and the support to help them succeed after graduation. And with small class sizes, inspiration and community is never lacking, according to Olivia Krodel, ’20.

That’s why she chose HPU for graphic design.

Students choose from two routes: a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) with a concentration in graphic design or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in design studies with a concentration in graphic design.

“Professors focus on a diverse range of projects,” says Krodel, who works as a graphic designer for Gannett. “I never felt like I was repeating the same thing. When I graduated, I felt like I could take on just about any design job because I had such a versatile and diverse background of projects.”

Students are encouraged to mix mediums such as photography, collage and hand drawings. And the support students have from professors allows them to take creative risks and solve problems.

“There’s a culture of a can-do attitude,” says Janis Dougherty, instructor of graphic design. “The tight relationships students cultivate with one another and with faculty create a space where we can all take great risks with our work.”

Macy McFerren, ʼ23, works one-on-one with HPU's Artist in Residence Ben Owen III in the Ceramics Studio.

Crafting Confidence

“The atmosphere at HPU is unlike any other,” says Madilynn Every, ’22.

HPU’s campus fosters creativity. It’s why students in the School of Arts and Design walk into class confident and ready to create.

“There’s always music playing on the promenade that gets you in a creative mode,” says Every. “Whenever I walk into the art building, I’m like ‘Yes, let’s crush whatever today’s going to bring on.’ ”

Because of its central location, HPU has access to the state’s major art hubs, including Seagrove, North Carolina, often referred to as “the pottery capital,” and home to Ben Owen III, American studio potter and HPU’s Artist in Residence.

Owen makes multiple visits to campus each semester. He teaches master classes on the basics of pottery, works one-on-one with students and gives feedback on their individual projects.

As a ceramic studio assistant, Macy McFerren, ’23, spent some one-on-one time with Owen, who not only taught her techniques for throwing, but for marketing her art and owning a business, too.

“His years of experience in the marketing realm have been helping me figure out how to kick-start my own studio,” she says.

And because McFerren took advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow at HPU, she’s confident in her career after graduation.

“Going into my sophomore year, I was very timid in the studio and not confident about my art,” says McFerren. “Now, I feel like an artist. I am proud of my art. In the studio, I am mixing glazes, running kiln fires and helping other students.”