The apprenticeship is offered to four to six people each year. This year?s apprentices are Max Clark, Lewis Colburn, Nick Kosack and Andy Webber.
Apprentices are given their own studio space, are allowed to take classes for free, receive feedback from other artists, serve as teaching assistants in the art department and critique other students? work.
It is a fairly selective program, and a valuable one. All of the equipment, space and supplies available in Dittmann Art Center are easily taken for granted by art students in their time at St. Olaf.
?Without the apprenticeship, printmaking wouldn?t be possible for me,? said Clark, a specialist in the printmaking field.
Visiting alumni often talk about the difficulty of setting up a new studio space in their garage or spare room. With the apprenticeship program, aspiring artists bypass those difficulties and are able to use spaces they are already familiar with.
Applying for graduate school or looking for a career in art can be intimidating, but it is slightly more manageable when when students still have access to everything from printing presses and metal welders, to photo labs and 3D animation software at your fingertips.
To apply for an apprenticeship, an art major writes a letter of intent to the department chair in the spring. Applicants include portfolios, but a large part of the selection process is based on the senior shows, the final, climactic projects that senior art students work on for much of spring semester and present in two gallery shows at the end of the year.
The apprentices are a valuable resource for other art students. Webber, who is a teaching assistant in the bronze sculpture class, has extensive knowledge from the work he did on his senior show.
Colburn maintains that aiding younger artists is the best part of being an apprentice: ?I like the role of helping out other students with their work best.?
Weber is having a great time in the apprentice program, and definitely recommends it to other students.
Much like other fifth-year programs, such as student teaching, being an apprentice can be rigorous, and the faculty force the fifth-year students to work as hard as possible. However, the apprentices put most of the pressure on themselves.
?There isn?t the worry of grades anymore. The only pressure is to impress people,? Clark said.
There are two gallery exhibits later in the year (January and May) that show only what the apprentices have been working on this year.
Aside from their artwork they also run critique sessions and evening figure drawing. Colburn even served as translator for a Russian artist that recently visited campus. The apprentices are also constantly working on their various projects in Dittmann, and can often be found in the building late at night.
If the program seems like a lot of work, that is because it is, but art majors realize that a lot of effort is needed to succeed after college.
Any program or internship that allows students to build upon what they have learned with hours of practical experience is a useful one. This program also provides a small stipend and the chance to see friends for another year.
Colburn sums up the general view of the apprentices best: ?I?m grateful and humbled that I was able to be a part of this.?