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Art Center College of Design | Pasadena, California | Learn to Create. Influence Change.
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Steve Gavenas

Graduate Art

6th Term

Have you had prior college experience before enrolling at Art Center?
I have had a wide array of experiences, both college and otherwise, prior to coming to Art Center. I have an associate and bachelor's degree in fine art from Miami Dade Community College and Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington DC, a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Texas, and an MBA from Cornell. I have worked as a congressional aide, communication officer for a defense contractor in Iran, refugee resettlement worker in Thailand, global management consultant and business executive with a satellite radio company.

Why did you choose to attend Art Center?
After graduating from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington D.C., I was looking for a world-class fine art graduate program that would challenge me and help me grow in my technical capability as well as the theoretical underpinning of my work, expand my artistic vision, and allow me to join the vibrant Los Angeles art scene. I also wanted a school that takes education seriously, with intensive faculty involvement and great classes—not just a residency program like some schools. I also wanted to relocate my family to the Los Angeles area for its proto-futuristic sprawl, the natural beauty of its environs, and the California college system.

What has been your favorite Art Center experience?
I have found the numerous one-on-one meetings with faculty (both the core group and adjunct faculty), the weekly critiques of my and other students' work, and the challenging theory classes to be helpful to my growth and learning-partly because they're so talented, but also because they're relentless.

What has surprised you the most during your time here?
The positive responses that I have received to my highly personalized, figurative work (mostly painting and video). I've also been pleasantly surprised by the degree of faculty involvement and the relentlessly challenging nature of the program. It is a serious, professional program that rivals world-class graduate programs in other areas of study in its dedication, toughness and consistent commitment to excellence.

Have you found any faculty members particularly inspirational or thought provoking?
Our Department Chair Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe is a triple-threat: world-class theoretician, art-historian and artist/painter. His critiques and comments are always incisive and insightful, and his suggestions dead on. Jason Smith, who teaches academic classes and is an active participant in critiques, amazes with his knowledge and fluent discourse of philosophy and political theory, but more importantly with his ability to link those worlds to the world of art in a way that is frequently difficult but always inspirational. He makes you want your work to matter to the world.

You're not originally from Southern California. What surprised you most about the region?
The light, especially the yellow evening before the sun goes down. The cool evenings. No clouds for about nine months straight. How friendly everyone is. How high up and close to the mountains Hillside Campus is. How cold the ocean is. Coyotes in our back yard. The proximity of Big Bear and some great snow. How manageable the traffic is.

Gavenas graduated from Art Center in 2010.

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