Abigail Smith

Abigail Smith

Class Year

’25

Hometown

Winthrop Harbor, IL

Major(s)

Studio Art, Art History

“Carthage has been instrumental in shaping my artistic journey and providing me with the skills and knowledge I need to pursue my dreams in the art world. I am excited about the future and the possibilities that lie ahead.”

Abigail Smith, ’25

Why Carthage?

“My connection with Carthage started at a young age when one of my aunts worked at the College. She used to babysit me when I was around five/six years old, and I have fond memories of visiting the campus with her. As fate would have it, a few years later, I joined the local baton twirling team, the Razzle Dazzles, and we had the pleasure of participating in the Carthage Homecoming Parade every year. With these experiences in mind and the positive exposure to Carthage throughout my life, I knew I felt at home at Carthage.

“Additionally, I chose Carthage due to its location, exceptional art program, and the close-knit community that the College fosters. Whether you’re interested in arts, sciences, business, or any other field, Carthage offers a diverse range of majors and minors, providing ample opportunities to pursue your passion and intellectual growth.

“One of the big reasons I chose Carthage was that it’s close to home. I’m super family-oriented, and taking care of my family is a top priority. So, being able to stay close to them while studying was a big deal for me. Being a commuter has worked out great because I get the best of both worlds — quality education and being there for my family when they need me. It’s a win-win situation! Carthage fosters a strong sense of community among its students, faculty, and staff.”

Faculty mentors

“The Carthage faculty have played a profound role in shaping my college experience and charting my academic journey. When I began as a freshman, I initially pursued a biology major with a pre-health concentration due to external pressures and expectations. However, the remarkable faculty members guided me towards my true passions and helped me find my authentic path.

“Through her Acrylic Painting 1 course, Professor Diane Levesque became a catalyst for my transition into the world of arts. She nurtured my creativity and encouraged me to explore my inner passions. Her guidance led me to the realization that I had always yearned to pursue the arts.

“Similarly, Professor Jojin Van Winkle played a significant role in my evolution as an artist. Her mentorship helped me break out of my shell and broaden my artistic horizons. Her kindness and support were particularly crucial during challenging times with my family’s health. Professors Jojin and Professor Ryan P. Miller were instrumental in my involvement with the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE). Working closely with Prof. Miller was a privilege, and his understanding and positivity left an indelible mark on my life. Our bond extended beyond academics, allowing us to engage in conversations about diverse topics, fostering a comfortable and supportive environment.

Professor Jose Avalos played a pivotal role too. His guidance nudged me towards mixed media and encouraged me to think outside the box. His kindness and our engaging conversations were always a highlight. His genuine care for his students’ success is truly inspiring. I’m incredibly grateful for his impact on my journey as a student and artist.

“Additionally, Professor Kimberly Greene’s influence in my life has been transformative. As one of her ceramics studio assistants, I gained practical skills and formed a deep connection with her. This connection enabled me to interact with other faculty members and students, creating a network that enriched my college experience. Thanks to Prof. Greene, I had the incredible opportunity to connect with folks in the art world and donors during the Russian Soviet Art Exhibition.”

Favorite class

“Without a doubt, my favorite class at Carthage has been Oil Painting, and it’s all thanks to the fantastic experience with Prof. Miller. The atmosphere in his classes was incredibly laid-back, which made it a joy to attend. Prof. Miller consistently encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, making the class truly special and led to significant artistic growth. Exploring the world of oil paint and its mediums under his guidance was a fun journey of discovery. Equally contributing to the enjoyment were my classmates, who were easy to connect with and formed a supportive community. We shared a close bond extending beyond the studio, cheering each other on and creating a fun and collaborative environment that enhanced the learning experience. Overall, this course stood out as a blend of skill-building, artistic exploration, and a sense of togetherness that made every session memorable.”

Toughest class

“For me, the toughest class at Carthage was definitely Chemistry. I was juggling several courses simultaneously, which made it a real challenge to keep up. Balancing all those demands was no joke. However, I was fortunate to have Professor Sarah Snow as my instructor. She was a true support system. She made the effort to guide me through the parts I found confusing, and that support meant a lot. Chemistry might have been a struggle, but having Prof. Snow’s assistance made the journey a bit less daunting.”

Campus involvement

“My involvement in various clubs and organizations has enriched my time at Carthage. I’m a proud member of the Art Club and Best Buddies, but my primary focus and activity have been within the Art Club. Being a part of the Art Club has allowed me to connect with students who share the same passion for creativity and self-expression. Through the club’s events, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate and learn alongside talented peers. These experiences have not only fostered my growth as an artist but have also provided a platform to engage with the broader artistic community on campus.”

Golden opportunities

“I’ve been fortunate to embrace several other opportunities at Carthage. One exciting venture is my upcoming role as a gallery assistant, collaborating closely with Prof. Miller. This new avenue promises to deepen my understanding of the art world and offer fresh perspectives on curating and managing exhibitions. Moreover, I’ve had the privilege of being selected to participate in the Annual Juried Art Show since my freshman year. This annual event, taking place each spring, not only showcases my work but also connects me with fellow artists and allows me to contribute to the vibrant artistic community at Carthage. These opportunities have enriched my college experience, offering me diverse platforms to engage with art, broaden my skill set, and establish meaningful connections with professors and peers alike.”

Internships or campus employment

“I’ve had the privilege of being a ceramics studio assistant since my sophomore year, and I’ve also had the exciting opportunity to participate in SURE 2023, representing the art discipline. As aa assistant for Prof. Greene, I’ve taken on a range of crucial responsibilities, including mixing clay, developing glazes and slips, organizing studio supplies, managing inventory, ensuring the smooth operation of the kiln room, and restocking materials. It’s been a hands-on experience that’s given me a deeper understanding of the practical aspects of ceramics and studio management.

“Additionally, SURE at Carthage has been a significant part of my journey. This program invites students from all majors to engage in intensive full-time research alongside professors. In my case, being focused on the arts, I’ve been collaborating closely with Prof. Miller over the summer. My project has involved creating four impactful paintings centered around the theme of gun violence in schools. My aim is to not only raise awareness about this critical issue, but also to educate others about the preventable crisis plaguing children and young adults in the United States.

“Both my role as an assistant and my involvement in SURE 2023 have allowed me to delve deeper into my major and gain practical experience that complements my academic studies. These opportunities have expanded my horizons and provided me with invaluable insights into the world of art and research.”

Career goal

“After I graduate, I have ambitious plans to venture into the world of muralism and take my artistic pursuits to a grand scale. I aim to continue working on larger projects that allow me to make a significant visual impact and create art that resonates with people on a deeper level. Through my work in muralism, I aim to inspire others to use their artistic voice to bring attention to important topics and issues they are passionate about.

“I plan to further my education and pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art and Art History and a Doctorate in Art History! This advanced degree will deepen my understanding of art theory and history and enrich my artistic practice.

“Ultimately, my long-term aspiration is to become an art curator or an art professor. As a curator, I plan to curate exhibitions that showcase diverse perspectives and contemporary issues, creating spaces that challenge and inspire viewers. Additionally, as an art professor, I aim to share my passion for art with others and foster a new generation of artists who can use their creativity to influence positive change in society.”

Favorite spot on campus

“My go-to spot, apart from the painting studio, has to be the area near the Kissing Rock on campus. It’s a slice of tranquility where I can soak in the beauty of the blooming flowers, feel the sunlight on my face, and listen to the soothing sounds of the waves crashing against the rocks. This serene corner lets me appreciate the simple pleasure of fresh air and nature’s embrace.”

Favorite memory

“Carthage has been a hub of unforgettable moments and cherished memories. One standout memory is the time I had the incredible opportunity to explore Art EXPO 2023 at Navy Pier in Chicago. This event was an absolute highlight, providing me with a fascinating glimpse into the art world on a grand scale. Walking through Art EXPO 2023 was an awe-inspiring experience. The chance to witness some of the world’s biggest galleries and immerse myself in an array of artistic expressions was truly captivating. The event allowed me to deepen my understanding of the diverse and dynamic art landscape, and it left an indelible mark on my artistic journey. This moment not only expanded my horizons but also fueled my passion for art. It was a reminder of the endless possibilities and opportunities that await in the creative realm. This memory encapsulates the essence of my Carthage experience — a blend of exploration, discovery, and a celebration of art’s transformative power.”

Biggest surprise

“The most significant surprise of my college journey has been wholeheartedly pursuing my passion in the arts. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be on this artistic journey now. Realizing that I’m actively following my passion has been a remarkable and unexpected turn of events that has enriched my college experience beyond measure.”

Advice for other students in your major?

“At Carthage, our art program is a hub of inspiration with faculty who are passionate about your success. They’re not just teachers, but mentors who open your eyes to new beliefs and perspectives. This major offers a creative feast. In studio art, you’ll unleash your artistic voice across different mediums. Art history takes you on a journey through time, unraveling the stories behind artworks. Together, they spark a deep understanding of art’s essence. With caring faculty by your side, you’ll navigate this artistic voyage. Remember to explore, manage your time well (sticky notes & planners are a must!), collaborate with peers, and draw inspiration from beyond classrooms. In a nutshell, studio art and art history at Carthage lets you blend creativity, critical thinking, and cultural awareness in a unique and supportive setting. It’s not just a major; it’s an adventure.”

What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?

“My 8-year-old self would be bursting with excitement and joy to see that I’m genuinely following my heart and flourishing as an art student. The realization that I’ve embraced my passion and transformed it into my studies and career path would undoubtedly fill my younger self with immense pride and anticipation for the creative journey ahead.”

Scholarships

“I’m incredibly thankful for the support I’ve received from Carthage and the generous donors who have contributed to my academic journey. I’ve been fortunate to be a recipient of several scholarships, including the Carthage Academic Honors Grant, the Aspire and Director’s Grants, and various donor-funded grants and scholarships, such as the Darrell R. and Karen L. Willson Endowed Scholarship. Receiving these scholarships has been a tremendous blessing that has allowed me to pursue my academic aspirations and career dreams without the burden of financial constraints. It’s given me the freedom to focus on my studies and dedicate myself wholeheartedly to my artistic endeavors. I’m determined to maximize this opportunity and excel in my academic pursuits. Thanks to the support I’ve received, I can continue to evolve as an artist. I’m eager to explore various artistic mediums and delve into topics of social injustices. My ambitions extend to working on larger projects, including muralism, which will enable me to make a bold impact through my art. With the skills I develop, I hope to not only enhance my own artistic practice, but also inspire others to address and raise awareness about issues they are passionate about. In essence, these scholarships have not only lightened my financial load but have also provided me with the means to strive for excellence and make a meaningful contribution through my art. I’m deeply grateful for the belief and investment that Carthage and the donors have placed in me.”

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