Graduate student art award winners represent strength of Eastern's MFA Program

by Lisa Mills Walters, Published March 22, 2012

YPSILANTI - Adam Ostrowski and Suzanne Boissy have been chosen as the winners of the Department of Art's graduate student award. The work of sixteen students was accepted into the gallery showing, and the winners were chosen from that group.

Adam Ostrowski hails from Redford and received his bachelor's degree from EMU in December 2010. He had heard good things about EMU's Art program, especially from his high school teacher, who is an EMU alum. Ostrowski continued at EMU for graduate school because he wanted to continue working with Professor Michael Reedy.

Ostrowski earned his B.A. in drawing but is in a painting program now, doing mixed media work. He says that each medium has limitations and characteristics, both good and bad, and "it's a lot more free" working with mixed media. The working title of his winning piece, which took him about 48 hours to complete, is "Form 3." The lamp in the piece is in watercolor washes, which allows light to pass through, and the background is acrylic, which doesn't.

Of winning the award, Ostrowski says, "I feel great. I've never won anything before. It feels good to be validated." He is especially grateful to Prof. Reedy, whom he says is "really smart and highly skilled. He knows a lot about techniques and materials. He's good to bounce things off of, because he's really encouraging and not controlling."

Ostrowski plans to graduate in 2013 and would like to teach art at the college level. In his current role as a Graduate Assistant, he has been assisting Prof. Amy Sacksteder in her painting class. As a professor, he looks forward to being both an artist and a teacher.

Suzanne Boissy is an Ypsilanti native who attended Lincoln High School but graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy. There she studied fine arts, including art and theatre design and production. She also studied at the Cleveland Institute of Arts and earned a liberal arts degree at Oakland Community College before completing her BFA at Eastern in 2009.

While Boissy has a drawing/painting background, she is enjoying concentrating on fibers right now because "you can work in 2D or 3D and with all materials." One of her winning pieces in this competition is a gray fabric piece called "Infection"; the other, as yet untitled, is a series of petri dishes. She got visual inspiration for that piece by looking at slides of pollen and other cells. Previously, she appeared on HGTV, displaying felted purses she had made.

Boissy had won several undergraduate awards but says there are fewer opportunities at the graduate level, and she was "completely floored and surprised and thrilled" to learn of this honor. She cited Prof. Brooks Harris-Stevens, her advisor, with being most influential, supportive, and encouraging in every way. Prof. Harris-Stevens, she says, has helped her to explore both traditional and non-traditional materials, and "if she doesn't know something, she'll find it out."

Boissy will graduate in December 2013 and plans to continue teaching at the college level. As a graduate assistant she has taught Art 101, Fibers for non-majors, and she teaches fibers at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. As a professor, she says, she will "get so much out of interaction with students and I can continue to be an artist."

According to Art Department Gallery Director Gregory Tom, "Adam's and Suzanne's work has shown tremendous growth since entering the program. Interestingly, both started the program with strong figurative elements in their work. They both have been adding stronger conceptual layers to their work, while moving from direct figurative representation to more abstract concepts of the body/figure. In Suzanne's case, this has developed into a body of work that now references biology and science; Adam is using abstraction to reference the female form and evoke gender related issues. Both are excellent representatives of the new strength of the MFA program in the art department: strong artwork, coupled with good work ethics and a sense of increasing confidence."

Geoff Larcom


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