Spotlight Iowa City: Following a winding journey to art

Originally published in The Daily Iowan 11/13/2009

Exposure is key.

It’s what UI senior Olivia Rendone believes about the world of art, at least.

That’s why the 22-year-old worked with students at Tate High for her Honors project in the UI School of Art and Art History, showing them the works they create have an outlet and that they are very much real artists. The project culminated with a reception for the students’ gallery at the Lindquist Center on Thursday.

“It was something they didn’t seem to be exposed to,” said Rendone, an art-education major. “I wanted to figure out a way they could see their work in a nice gallery.”

And she did. After working with students and administrators at the school, she set some deadlines and requirements and worked twice a week with the student-artists. The work will remain on display in Lindquist until Dec. 14.

Her path to art was probably as original as her work.

Starting on the nursing track, Rendone, who hails from the northwest Chicago suburb of Cary, Ill., found herself eyeing the art-class offerings

She consulted her father.

“I said to my dad, ‘I really want to take these classes, but I don’t have room in my schedule.’ So he said he’d pay for a fifth year,” Rendone said.

While she started balancing the two, she eventually made the switch completely to art. “That’s where my heart was,” she said.

Though the shift may have been difficult for Rendone’s parents, it did keep with her desire to give back — just in a different way.

“When it came down to it, I didn’t think I would connect the best way in an emergency room,” Rendone said.

Her project is something UI art history and education Associate Professor Rachel Williams finds beneficial. Most high school freshmen don’t have a professional outlet for their work, she said.

“A lot of our students haven’t taken art classes since junior high,” Williams said. “Often they take their art classes early so they can take their AP classes.”

Stephanie Corlett, a UI senior also in art education, worked with Rendone on the project.

Corlett, who is also good friends with Rendone, said she will make a great art teacher.

“She works so hard and is really dedicated,” Corlett said. “She’s got some really ambitious goals.”

After finishing 16 weeks of student teaching back home, Rendone will spend eight more weeks in New Zealand this summer.

She’ll share this time with New Zealand’s indigenous population, the Maori, who are known for their stone cutting and using art as a way of life.

And Rendone won’t leave such an experience in the mountains and sea that dominate the country.

“I feel like that’s a great experience for me to bring to my students,” she said, noting the intimate relationship between the culture and art in the country.

Ultimately, Rendone said, she doesn’t know where her travels will take her career, but she’s open to whatever comes her way.

“I think the sky’s the limit. You’ve got to take your opportunities when you can get them.”

Corresponding video I shot and edited for The Daily Iowan website:


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