MFA in Studio Arts Alumni Spotlight: Eric Valosin
Initially Eric entered Montclair’s MFA program with the aim of teaching higher education. By the time he graduated he felt empowered to follow his larger goals that, before his MFA, seemed like pipe dreams. With a new perspective and passion for his studio practice, Valosin is now able to recognize the necessary steps to achieve his goals and aims high.
What exactly gave Eric the confidence and ability to try to achieve these goals?
Eric said, “My time at MSU was totally transformative. It certainly made me a better artist. In retrospect, I had no idea what being an artist really meant before grad school.” Eric speaks about how the MFA program helped him to understand how to make art, but more importantly why to make art; which helped him to develop big, philosophical questions that still drive his art practice today.
Eric explained how the World Making course taught by Iain Kerr, “equipped me for the experimentation and research that would eventually become my thesis.” In addition to this course he continued, “The summer research project we did in anticipation of our thesis monographs was where I turned a major corner in my work and set it on track to become what it is today. I had been interested in the intersections of art and spiritual experience, but this research project narrowed those interests into more specific, valuable, complex questions.”
Eric went on to say, “The MFA director, Dr. Andrew Atkinson was instrumental in guiding me through these questions and how they meet the world, through the creation of the thesis monograph itself, which I still use as a networking tool. In fact, I recently gave someone a copy of it to discuss one of the interviews. Even now it remains prescient.”
Valosin states that the MFA program at MSU set him up for success by establishing a network of peers and professionals that he continues to rely upon today. He explains, “The steady stream of visiting artists, critics, and curators - as many as three each week - was invaluable in developing my work and getting that work out into the world. Probably close to 75% of the most interesting things I’ve done artistically since graduation have in one way or another come through my relationships with my classmates, be it through collaboration, shared opportunities, or generous introductions. As Andrew once told us, when you graduate, nobody in the world knows your practice more intimately than the people you went through MSU with.”
However, life after the MFA program, however, is not easy; it requires artists to wear several hats and to hustle. It is for this reason that Valosin’s success can be contributed not only to the skills he learned at MSU, but for his continued practice of acquiring new skills. Valosin said, “As an artist you are essentially an entrepreneur creating a startup with no budget and only one employee, using tools that oftentimes don’t yet exist until you invent them.” Some of the essential skills that Eric references are collaboration, keeping calm under pressure, and making interpersonal connection. Eric continued, “Collaborations always help you develop new skills and reach new audiences. But more importantly, they force you to step outside your own conceptual bubble and see the world from someone else’s perspective.” As an excellent example, Eric works with several other MFA alumni including Stephen Douglas ’14, Christine Soccio Romanell ’14, Daniel Morowitz ’15, Esmeralda Vazquez ’15, and K.Anthony Lawler ’17 on the New Jersey based art blog, Not What It Is, to fill the gap in critical attention to New Jersey fine art. Additionally he will be in a three-person show in early 2017, making collaborative work with Marc D’Agusto MFA alumnus 2011, and Russ Wills at City Walls Gallery.
Valosin’s teaching philosophy reflects his time in the MFA program as well. This spring, he will teach a studio-based conceptual development class that has roots in the strategies learned from World Making. Currently he teaches in the Art and Communications departments at the College of St. Elizabeth where his courses, Writing for Converging Media and Editing for Converging Media, grew out of his critical writing practice.
Valosin concluded, “I aspire to make a difference in the way people interact with each other and with the world. I feel a sense of urgency within religion and society in general to bridge these metaphysical-relational-technological gaps. I hope my work opens a pathway to a reexamination and retooling of our existing religious frameworks to create new spaces for mystical experience in our hyper-technologized, (post-)postmodern, globalized, complicated world.”
Adjunct Professor, The College of Saint Elizabeth
"Rabit Hole Engineer," and Contributing Editor, Not What It Is
Fine Arts Instructor, The Collective Art Tank
Coordinator of Fine Art Education, Gravity, Inc.