Art students look to bright futures

Liz Sieng

We all knew when we came to Whitman that a liberal arts education isn’t all about learning job skills or making yourself marketable. We knew full well that our philosophy and art courses weren’t “practical” in the real world, yet we chose to take them anyway. For graduating seniors who have majored in the arts, this impracticality can be particularly daunting. How does one begin a job hunt with a skill set that seems totally inapplicable to most jobs? With this in mind, The Pioneer recently asked top students from each art department to share their college experiences and post-graduation plans.

Harrison Fulop –– Vocal Performance Music major

Credit: Bowman

Building upon the knowledge and experience gained from college is an ideal sought after by many students. For Harrison  Fulop, the possibility of furthering the skills and connections he has gained at Whitman is now a reality.

Fulop  focused much of his time at Whitman intensively honing his vocal skills, singing in both Chorale and Chamber Singers, performing in student ensembles and bands and competing in Northwest regional vocal competitions. Next fall, Fulop will begin studying at the University of Missouri: Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. In addition to pursuing a Master’s degree in vocal music performance, Fulop hopes to become part of the opera scene.

“I really want to focus on improving theatricality and getting into the zone of opera singing,” said Fulop, mentioning the only operas he has performed in at Whitman, “Cosi Fan Tutte” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” “The two operas that I’ve done here are the only times I’ve really acted since sixth grade.”

In addition to doing opera performance, Fulop hopes to continue studying under his current teacher, Dr. Robert Bode, who by coincidence, is also relocating to UM: KC this fall. Bode formerly served as the head of choral studies at Whitman and Fulop’s voice coach for the past four years.

“I’m simultaneously really excited because I have plans already and really sad because I’ve been incredibly happy for four years,” said Fulop. “I’ll probably be the guy coming back in 25 years who’s wide-eyed and looking at everything that I used to see on a daily basis.”

Katie Higgins –– Studio Art/French major

Credit: Cornelius

Art and literature have fascinated Katie Higgins for most of her life: but not without surprises along the way. During her time at Whitman, Higgins came to embrace the idea of working both as an artist and as an advocate of children’s literature.

Higgins explained that her aspirations began during freshman year, while taking a beginning course in book arts and a literature class on children’s folklore and mythology. Higgins said that her book arts class remains one of favorite memories at Whitman, adding that her instructor for that course, Assistant Professor of Art Mare Blocker, inspired her to become a studio art major.

“[Blocker] is also such a wonderful resource, very encouraging, and very knowledgeable in her area,” said Higgins.

Higgins later began working in community service and education programs that focus on children, such as the Whitman Mentor Program, Environmental Education for Kid and the Whitman Story Time Project. Last summer, Higgins created “Summers with Katie,” a series of two-week literature and art camps for children based in her home town of Boise, Idaho.

Higgins is set to marry this summer, and in the fall, she will begin studying at the Harvard Arts in Education Program.

“It’s nerve-racking but also very exciting that I’m entering into this very specialized field,” said Higgins. “I get to follow something I’m very passionate about to a higher level.”

Peter Richards –– Theatre/English major

Credit: Bullion

After four years, Peter Richards has both stayed involved in Whitman’s theater department, and maintained his enthusiasm for collaborative projects with fellow student artists: and it has paid off.

As co-creator of the student-based theater troupe, 12 Stones, Richards gained experience in organizing student writers and actors to produce student-led productions on campus. After graduation, Richards will move to Seattle and begin the process of creating a theater production company based on 12 Stones.

“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to continue being an artist,” said Richards, explaining that he will work in partnership with senior Ian Jagel, his friend and collaborator for 12 Stones. “I’m glad that I’ll be in a position to make art and collaborate with people.”

Until then, Richards can look back on his college experience through many landmark memories. Since freshman year, he has been an active member of Varsity Nordic, Whitman’s theatre sports group, and has also participated in at least two Harper Joy productions per semester, working in acting roles and as a sound designer.

“I’m happy that I’m graduating. That being said, I’m going to miss the incredible safety that is Whitman,” he said. “That’s one of the coolest things about this place; there’s safety in the community to just put yourself out there.”