Wichita State students Renee Fritts and Mary Kathy Robb are turning their hobbies into careers. The two students have returned to Wichita State to pursue art, a subject that they both have been passionate about since childhood.
Fritts is a senior studying art education, a subject she has always loved. She didn't have art classes available in elementary or middle school, so she began drawing for fun.
“I realized people liked what I was drawing, which encouraged me to draw more,” says Fritts. “I didn't do well in reading, and that made me feel insecure as a student. Having art to turn to gave me confidence.”
Before coming to WSU, Fritts received her associate's degree in Liberal Arts at Butler Community College. Her husband watched their two kids, Ethan and Sophia, while she went to class. After graduation, her daughter started Kindergarten and Fritts became a full-time WSU student.
“With the kids in school, I thought this would be a great opportunity to show them to follow their passion,” says Fritts.
After she graduates in May, Fritts hopes to get a high school teaching job.
“I'm currently doing my student internship at Riverside Elementary. I just completed a high school internship at Derby High School, and before that I completed a middle school internship,” says Fritts. “I love teaching high school because the kids actually want to be there. They choose these classes because they're interested in them.”
Robb, a ceramics major graduating in May, began her college career in 1979, but left before receiving her degree. She returned in 2009 and received her Associate in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix online. A few years later, Robb enrolled in the School of Fine Arts at WSU to pursue something she loves: art.
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Growing up, Robb's father worked in the business field while her mother was interested in the arts. Both pushed her to follow in their line of work, so she decided to study in both fields. But ceramics is her passion.
“I started with the wheel, but then I saw people hand-building and decided to try that,” says Robb. “I was horrible when I started, but I kept working and watched how others worked. I would work all day long in Henrion to get to where I am today.”
She found that working with clay resonated with her, and the transformative property of ceramics reflected her own, personal transformation.
“There is a specific reason that ceramics works for me,” says Robb. “Because of my past experience with abuse, I had to change and adapt to my surroundings. Ceramics is like that. Clay is malleable, and I am able to mold it into fluid, organic shapes.”
After graduation, Robb plans to look for a residency and will continue to work on her ceramics.
For more information on the College of Fine Arts and its degrees, visit https://www.wichita.edu/thisis/academics/finearts/.
For more information, contact Ted Adler, associate professor, 316-978-3518 or firstname.lastname@example.org.