Summers are filled with artistic creativity in Drury’s MART

Tapping into creativity can be a fun, challenging process, and, when it happens, the results are rewarding. Tom Parker, an Emeritus professor of Art and Art History at Drury, established artist, and Program Director of the Master of Arts in Studio Art and Theory (MART) encourages people to explore their imaginations and creative capabilities every summer. Beginning its sixth year, MART is a 30 credit hour graduate degree taught only in the summer. Faculty and artists of diverse backgrounds and experiences come from all over the nation to teach students and push their imaginations.

MART student Allison Simmons at work

The MART program is open to anyone with an undergraduate degree who has commitment and is focused on bringing art to life. Some students come in without any art background and leave with exceptional portfolio pieces. “It is all about drive and desire to learn,” said Parker. “We don’t differentiate between experiences and knowledge. Students are becoming artists, often for the first time.” Those that complete the program, which takes three summers, are able to launch into professional artistic careers or use their degrees and portfolio pieces to gain admission into Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs.

“Having the Master’s Degree will afford me a higher salary as a teacher,” said Mary Resz Weston, a 2012 MART graduate. “But more importantly, having the experience and knowledge gained from the MART program will make me a more thoughtful, skilled, and capable artist for the rest of my life.”

Tom Parker (right) with MART graduate Meganne Rosen

Parker says that Drury’s MART is the only one of its kind in the Midwest. When developing MART, Parker met with an advisory council complied of faculty from the best fine arts graduate schools from across the nation. Beyond the curriculum offered in the program, it’s the collaboration between faculty and fellow students that can prove to be the most valuable. “I wasn’t even sure how to do much of the physical, structural work that was required to make some of my sculptures happen,” said Resz Weston. “But any time I got stuck, I had 3 or 4 teachers near that knew exactly how to make my ideas work. I had 3 or 4 other teachers who would walk through and offer ideas and critique, each day. And I had a dozen fellow students who gave me feedback through my creative process and were willing to help with the hard labor during installation.”

At the end of each two-month summer session, students’ work is showcased at Drury’s Pool Art Center. At the end of it all, students gain an ability to turn ideas into reality. “It is fulfilling to go through the entire challenge,” Parker said. “When students finish, they have pushed themselves to think beyond ideas floating in their heads. They give ideas a reason to belong to the world. They give ideas life.”


Story by Amber Perdue, a May 2013 Drury graduate.