EMCC Art Students Expand Horizons with Local and National Showcase Opportunities

Kathy Miller's Seahorse Painting
Kathy Miller's Seahorse Painting

Some might say that an artist paints his or her own way into the world of art, but an Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) Adjunct Faculty member, Amy Ronhovde, is there to give Estrella Mountain art students the little push they need to find their place in the colorful and diverse field that is art.

Ronhovde is a new adjunct faculty member to the college, but has already made her mark on her students. Her dedication and passion for her craft has opened many opportunities for the college's art students - locally and nationally. A requirement in her drawing classes is for her students to submit their work to Mariposa, a literary magazine the college publishes annually that includes Estrella Mountain student artwork, creative writing samples, poetry, etc. Students also showcased their work at a student-run art show on Saturday, December 13. But the opportunity to showcase their work doesn't stop there.  Ronhovde is always keeping her eyes open for shows and contests for her students to participate in. "As a working artist, you've got to be dedicated to creation and tireless self-promotion," she said. She wants her students to not only learn and develop their talents, but to experience first-hand what it is like to be an artist and how to participate in various activities.

Ronhovde recently happened upon a project that she and her students couldn't resist. A new restaurant opening in the Litchfield Park area presented a unique opportunity. The owner, Alex Corona, was looking for art to adorn the walls of Tiburon, an aquarium restaurant that will feature a 60,000 gallon shark tank for patrons to feast their gaze upon while they eat their meal. He chose to hold a contest, exclusive for EMCC art students, with a little incentive to sweeten the deal. Corona and his co-owners will select a few pieces to hang in the restaurant, and the customers will vote for first, second, and third-place winners who will receive $300, $100, or $50. Those students will also be able to offer their artwork for sale while it hangs in the new restaurant and were invited to attend the soft grand opening of the restaurant on December 20 where there will be many of the West Valley's movers and shakers. The grand opening to the public will be on December 29 where Jack Hanna is planned to attend.

While all of these local opportunities are great, Ronhovde didn't stop there. She encouraged her students to participate in a charitable event held in New York City - "Postcards from the Edge," an AIDS and HIV awareness event. The students will not attend, but will submit their artwork to be hung on the walls next to prestigious artists and will be sold to benefit the charity. Kathy Miller, one of Ronhovde's students felt that this opportunity was not-to-be-missed because of its charitable nature. "I've gotten so many opportunities to make my art public and make my art stronger," she said. "This was something I just had to give a chance."

Miller is a first-year student at Estrella Mountain Community College and is just starting out on her path as an artist. Her uncertainty has turned into confidence and appreciation of her talent through the support and passion of her instructor. Miller is participating in each of the opportunities outlined above. She is learning what her style is and is "completely elated" to be able to showcase her work not only to the public, but to her family, her peers, and most of all, her instructor. But there is one thing that Miller isn't sure of, as most fresh college students aren't - what to major in and what to do with that major. After all, what kind of career can she have as an artist?

"With a degree in fine arts, students can become educators, art therapists, museum curators, gallery artists, graphic designers, fashion designers, photographers, do public sector art, work in the television or music industries, and much, much more," said Ronhovde. "Integrating these wonderful professional opportunities into the classroom allows them to explore different opportunities and also teaches them what it means to be a working artist and the quality that is expected of working professionals in the art field."The college offers several art classes as part of its Associate of Arts in Fine Arts.

For more information about class offerings, call 623-935-8888.