Being an artist

The senior studio art capstone course taught by James Linehan at the University of Maine prepares students for a future career as an artist. An exhibition, featuring works created throughout the students’ time in college, is the final exam. Students are in charge of all aspects of the show, from selecting and hanging the pieces to organizing an opening reception. This year’s class of nine artists produced “Collective Ground,” an exhibit featuring more than 70 pieces.


James Linehan: The course is called senior capstone or Studio Professional Practice. The idea of the course is that it’s meant to serve as a bridge between school and the rest of life. We work on writing resumes, and artist statements, and putting together a presentation packet.

I always sum it up as, “OK big shot, you got your bachelor’s degree in art. Now what?” That’s about half the course, we do career‑related things. Then the second half of the course is this show.

Deborah Heyden: I really enjoyed the process of bringing a show together. We had to go through what art made it, and what would benefit making the show more cohesive. Placement of the art, doing the lighting, it really taught me a lot about how to put on a show. I had a lot of fun with that.

Gabrielle Bock: For the capstone class, the biggest thing was how you actually set up a gallery show. I didn’t have an idea about anything that went into it. It was helpful because, if I ever potentially want to work in a gallery it gives me those skills, but also, it gives me the setup to have the correct portfolio, or papers, to bring with me to a gallery to get my art shown.

Mary Manley: I think all humanities should have a capstone course, where they let you know that there are so many options when you do graduate. This course, we had to come up with lists of possible careers. That can extend out into so many different things.

Gabrielle Bock: Opening night was really busy. It was really fun and stressful. My parents came. My grandparents came. My research advisers from the chemistry department came. It was pretty cool.

Ariel Goos: My friend who was in the show last year, she came down from Ontario to support me. My roommates came. It was really interesting to bring my roommates, who are non‑art people, into the art scene and get their opinion on that, and have my parents see my work up in a gallery.

Mary Manley: You feel like a hostess or like a parent putting together some kind of parent‑teacher conference meeting or something. Trying to set out the food, and make sure everyone’s comfortable, and everything’s lit nicely.

Mea Clark: It was interesting. Having it up on the wall in frames, and people interact with it, and actually get to look at it more closely in a gallery setting, was really nice to see. To hear people’s comments about it was uplifting. [laughs]

James Linehan: This group of students was amazing. They were really good. We had a couple of really good self‑starters that made it even easier that way. I did less work, myself, than I have on any other exhibition we’ve had in the last 15 years. This is one of my best groups.