Discovering the Missing Part of my Education 🎨✏️📚

Honestly, a couple months after transferring to Plymouth State University, I knew I was struggling. This struggle wasn’t a type of “surface struggle,” it was the type of struggle that made me cringe when I would think about which direction my life was going. I was so conflicted about what I was doing at this college and how I was going to accomplish my goals. At first, I declared a Studio Art Major without realizing the consequences of my actions; I wasn’t going to graduate on time, I was taking sophomore level art courses as a senior and I wasn’t fortunate enough to earn enough money to go to school for an extra two years. These were the thoughts of my overthinking that spanned a good three semesters. Well luckily, I had a life changing long talk with my Studio Art Advisor who spoke to me about the Interdisciplinary Program. I was amazed, I remember I was so excited to hear about a program in which you could control your education and create your own major. In that moment, the thoughts of my struggle were replaced with future

Flickr Arturo Espinosa

images of taking the classes that I wanted to take, graduating on time and having a major that will benefit many career opportunities. When I first started thinking about how my Intro to Interdisciplinary class would be my first thought was, “refreshing.” That the class would open new education perspectives for me. I believed that I would learn new things about other student’s majors too. The best understanding that I personally gained from taking the Intro to Interdisciplinary course is the fact that I turned my education around for the better. Now, I have a more positive mindset in the direction of my education and I am fully confident that I can accomplish the goals of my IDS Program.

Before the Intro to Interdisciplinary Course I wasn’t exactly sure what “interdisciplinary” meant. I kind of had a basic idea that it meant combining different educational disciplines but I didn’t fully understand the meaning until it was explained throughout the course. Through the duration of the Intro to Interdisciplinary course I learned so much more than I thought I would. I gained understandings of what it was like to combine different disciplines through reading student’s blog posts, I learned about student’s passions and how they incorporated them within their major. Honestly to me, your passions are very important and I feel like if you aren’t committed and are unhappy with your education than it doesn’t make it genuine. I believe that IDS Programs are a good explanation of genuine education, because you integrate your passions to create your dream education. Presently, that is how I would define “interdisciplinary.”

With all the information that I have learned in the Intro to Interdisciplinary course I find it difficult to narrow it down to four concepts. The four concepts that I managed to choose are; the term “epistemology,” the cluster approach, networking/blogging and critical versus instrumental thinking. When I was introduced to the term, “epistemology,” I knew it was going to be an important part to understanding my program. According to the dictionary, epistemology is a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods and limits of human knowledge. Well, my program is Expressive Arts and I guess the epistemology of the discipline of art would be that art uses the process of creating through different mediums (painting, printmaking, ceramics, etc.) to give meaning to a piece of art work. This is universally relatable because usually behind an artist’s work is a personal idea, concept, perspective or story. For example, when I created this piece a while ago, I was struggling with an eating disorder and I wanted to spread awareness. So I created a drawing that shows 25 pictures of the life of a girl with anorexia.

Eating Disorder
My Artwork (Please Do Not Take This Picture)

This piece of artwork is very important to me because there is a lot of personal meaning behind it. I just feel like this term has a lot of relevance to Expressive Arts because the important part of helping a client through art is the creative/emotional process that they experience.  As for the next concept, the cluster approach is an important part of the future of Interdisciplinary Studies at Plymouth State University. When I read the article about the cluster approach I felt very proud of the IDS Program. I believe that it’s very important for students to integrate their learning with multiple disciplines. I feel like when you’re narrowed down to one major, you really don’t experience what other interesting disciplines have to offer. Through this cluster approach students will gain an openness to explore, create and discover. One of the quotes that I liked in the article was, we need that “holistic and synergistic change.” Even though the changes may require a different mindset , it’s always a great idea to be open to new perspectives. One of the biggest skills that I have acquired throughout this course is learning how to manage a WordPress blog and multiple social media sites. Before this course I didn’t really had a personal blog aside from my Tumblr blog that I made freshman year of high school. I find social media fascinating and I feel like it’s easy for me to keep up with all the social media apps/websites that I have on my phone and laptop. I have posted the link to my Word Press blog on a few of my social media sites because I would like to get my voice and artwork “out there.” I honestly think it is a great idea to maintain an Interdisciplinary Twitter account because social media helps you to connect with people who have the same interests as you and that can also lead to career opportunities. The last concept that I felt was beneficial to my IDS program is realizing the

The Shopping Sherpa

differences between critical and instrumental thinking. When we did an exercise with these terms in class, I wasn’t sure what category Expressive Arts would be put into. When I did a little research on the two concepts I realized that Expressive Arts could be in both categories. Expressive Arts requires critical thinking because there are multiple ways to help clients and there are multiple solutions. For example, a client may not find that painting is helping them so they may try another medium to experiment with. As for the psychological side of Expressive Arts, I believe that there is a stopping point. When a patient begins to cope with whatever they’re dealing with, to an extent you have to be able to let them grow/thrive by themselves. I am not saying that you have to cut off contact with them completely, I am saying that Expressive Arts can be a very personal journey in understanding yourself.

Like I said about the cluster approach, I feel like this approach will bring enormous success to Plymouth State and other Universities as well. I remember during class time my Intro to Interdisciplinary professor told us that Interdisciplinary Degrees were becoming more popular within Universities. The Interdisciplinary approach is very important to me because it gives me hope for my future. I guess I can say that my overall goal for the future is being able to support myself doing something I am passionate

Final Painting for Advanced Painting
My Artwork (Message me if you would like to use this image)

about. With my Interdisciplinary degree in Expressive Arts I will likely be creating art and helping/inspiring people through artistic processes. I feel very accomplished that I am walking at graduation this Spring and receiving my degree after the Fall Semester. My hope for after receiving my degree is to consider graduate school and further my art therapy education. I am also not a follower in any form, I am proud that I have broken away from a more traditional education and decided to embrace a refreshing change. I feel incredibly excited about where my Interdisciplinary future is taking me!

As you can probably tell, I am very passionate about artwork so here are some links to a couple amazing painters that have inspired me, Vladimir Kush, Betsy Walton, Jim Warren and of course Georgia O’Keeffe.

5 thoughts on “Discovering the Missing Part of my Education 🎨✏️📚

  1. First off, I just wanted to say your art work is beautiful. I’ve always loved taking art classes in the past but wasn’t the best at it, so its awesome to see your passion and talent for it. I also had never had a personal blog before, and IDS opened that up to me. I also didn’t really know what interdisciplinarity meant. As I posted on my blog, I actually thought it meant independent. I think its really awesome that you found your place in the IDS program so late, as did I. I am also graduating but receiving my degree in the fall. Good luck with all of your plans in the future! It really seems like you know what you want to do and that you have a passion for it and that is whats important!

  2. This is a really great post your artwork is beautiful thank you for sharing. I had a similar experience, I was psychology major for the first semester I transferred to PSU and it wasn’t something I wanted to pursuit.
    I was very lost in what I wanted to do and I was breathily introduced to Interdisciplinary Studies by my advisor form Psych department. You are very right besides giving students opportunities to pursuit their passion interdisciplinary program really gives students a chance to save money and time.

  3. In so many ways, even though you characterize yourself as floundering a bit as you were trying to find your way to graduation, you have always seemed to me to possess the most admirable confidence and poise. I can’t imagine you conforming to a program that didn’t fit your needs just perfectly, since you seem so very capable of understanding what the best road for you should be. I look at this space that you have built here, and I see such amazing possibilities for you– either in a graduate Art Therapy program, where I know you would completely excel, or in other careers that would put your design, writing, creative, marketing, and psychology skills to work. You bring so much to the table, and I look forward to some amazing capstone work from you!

  4. Ke, I felt so emotional while reading your essay. I KNOW the struggle being in art, but not the art you wanted to be in. It can really make you feel like your just following what everyone else is doing. I firmly believe this is your career path, and I love the pieces you have incorporated into the essay. It broke my heart reading about the eating disorder, but made me so happy to see that you are using your art to raise awareness about it. I also, just as a general note about your twitter feed, want to say, as an artist myself, I could sit and scroll through your feed all day. But I would also like to point out, your name isn’t very easy to find on here, when you write ‘my art’ write Ke Cawley’s art, or put your name at the front page. You are going to be such a great asset to many peoples lives, so glad this is what you are going to do with your life!!!

  5. I thought this was such a great essay and I’m glad you found a program that works for you! I was struggling in the beginning as well and was undecided for a couple years until I stumbled upon the Interdisciplinary program as well. I also just assumed it was a major where you put a bunch of disciplines together and basically just “create your own major”; but it is so much more than that!

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