View full story vmsdcia3.jpg


Apr 23, 2014

CIA grads win 25% of nation's top retail design honors

View details CIA's Traveling Sketchbooks make a last stop at MOCA


Mar 15, 2014 @ MOCA Cleveland in Cleveland, OH

CIA's Traveling Sketchbooks make a last stop at MOCA

View full story geemay.jpg


Apr 17, 2014

Design major gets zombie's reception at her former school

View details The Accident: Recent Work by Nicky Nodjoumi

cia exhibition

Mar 28, 2014

The Accident: Recent Work by Nicky Nodjoumi

View Link


about 7 hours ago via Facebook

CIA students presented NEO: A Runway Show in which they modeled wearables – in the form of accessories, design, and conceptual art – before nearly 200 audience members in CIA’s Reinberger Galleries last night. The award winners for the evening were Sculpture major Graham Baldwin, Best of Show; Jewelry + Metals major Hongzhe Ma, Best Accessory; and art education major Raisa E. Cabrera, Best Material and Technology.

View full story mcpbrianbendisfinalrmuller414.jpg


Apr 16, 2014

Alumnus and superhero comics writer Brian Bendis visits CIA

View details Dinner by Design – Art of the Table, and a runway show

cia exhibition

Mar 28, 2014

Dinner by Design – Art of the Table, and a runway show

View full story abbeyblake.jpg


Apr 15, 2014

Students win $11,000 in Dealer Tire art competition

View details 2014 Spring Design Show

cia exhibition

Apr 22, 2014 @ Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland in Cleveland, OH

2014 Spring Design Show

View details picresized1396640639citizenkane2.jpg


Apr 22, 2014

4/24-27: Bernard Hermann weekend with CITIZEN KANE, MARNIE & more!

View full story princeton-reviewcopy.jpg


Aug 20, 2013

CIA named one of the "Best in the Midwest"

View details 2014 Spring Illustration + Animation Show

cia exhibition

Apr 22, 2014

2014 Spring Illustration + Animation Show

News . Feature Stories . CIA Student Illustrates BFA Week for Plain Dealer


June 14, 2010

CIA Student Illustrates BFA Week for Plain Dealer

After working as a Plain Dealer reporter for 18 years, guest author Karen Sandstrom is now studying illustration at The Cleveland Institute of Art. She will face her own BFA Week in 2012.

CIA Student Illustrates BFA Week for Plain Dealer

After working as a Plain Dealer reporter for 18 years, guest author Karen Sandstrom is now studying illustration at The Cleveland Institute of Art. She will face her own BFA Week in 2012.

Story and illustrations by Karen Sandstrom
Published in The Plain Dealer on Sunday, May 23, 2010

We are a small but rapt audience perched on folding chairs in the thrall of a young artist presenting his work. He’s a big man wearing a dark suit and flop sweat, but he’s doing just fine. His children’s-book drawings hang on moveable walls he has arranged into a tiny living room complete with wing chair.

He has his book, too - a handful of copies printed up just for this presentation. He introduces the idea behind his story. CRASH! From across the room comes a brief interruption - too brief and distant to grab much attention. Still, I know what the noise means. It isn’t good.

The artist in front of us continues his rap. He acknowledges the influence of Chris Van Allsburg, creator of the blockbuster children’s book, “The Polar Express.” CRASH! I wince.

Just on the other side of that wall, an artist has been hanging her series of exquisitely made ceramic pods. Each pod is mounted with glue to the wall. Some stay put. Some don’t. The glue has proven unreliable.

I know this as I listen to the children’s-book artist, because I walk by earlier and saw the ceramicist standing amid shards of hardened clay. She’d had her game face on. She had made lots of extras, she said. Soon it would be her time before her audience on folding chairs.

Welcome to “BFA Week” at the Cleveland Institute of Art. The scene above is a year old, but it springs to mind because we just finished another such season. Every year, the art school’s graduating seniors prove their mettle in a very public way. If they succeed (and they mostly will), they walk away in a few weeks with their bachelor of fine arts degrees.

For a few, the BFA thesis takes place in December, but spring is the big show. Last week, 123 painters, sculptors, digital animators, illustrators, and designers took their place in the sun.

The work each artist celebrates during his or her hourlong presentation is the culmination of a year or more of sweat and studio time. They don’t just execute a few paintings and call it a day. They plan and articulate, do market research, create, revise and rework.

Perhaps they cry once in a while. Some swear.

Then, with parents and friends and other students as witnesses, they defend their choices before a panel of teachers, some of whom turn up the flame pretty high. Last week I watched the grilling of one student in which the teachers seemed determined to get her to articulate the deeper meaning of her work. It was an excruciating - and illuminating - experience.

My first experience as a BFA witness was last spring, as I finished my freshman year at CIA. Months earlier, I had traded in 25 years of journalism to train as an illustrator. My first months back in college were proving exciting and daunting. Art school is good. And art school is hard. Could I DO this?

But while I watched BFAs for the first time, I was swept up with hope. Old enough to be the mother of most of these students, I was stunned by the sophistication of the talent. Not every senior produces perfect work. And to a person, they are better at making art than talking about it.

But at the risk of sounding like a kook, I found this display almost breathtakingly inspiring and I still do. I wish everyone in Cleveland could see it, whether “it” is the dapper industrial design major showing off his concept car, the graphic designer exhibiting his campaign to counteract the negative effects of corporate-generated hip-hop messages, or the pretty young metalsmith exhibiting necklaces with tiny portraits embedded in each one.

By now, the BFA drama will is a memory for the class of 2010. And so the real work begins.

A CIA survey of 2009 graduates indicates that 84 percent are working full-time or part-time in their field. Another 7 percent have gone on to graduate school. Nine percent were still looking for work at the time of the survey.

Building a life out of creative work is famously difficult. As an artist and reporter, I know this. I also know that the world runs on hot, creative energy, and that a lot of that is brewing, right here and now. It’s not just about learning how to draw in perspective, it’s also about how to pull out Plan B when your work falls off the wall and smashes to the floor.

So what a blast it is to be a witness as a new flock of artists - tired and relieved, flush with success and maybe a little battle-scarred - prepares to take flight. It’s good for them. It’s great for the rest of us.

- Courtesy of Karen Sandstrom ’12

YouTube Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Flickr

Social Feed

Check out these innovative designs from CIA's student-run event, NEO: A Runway Show, last night:

about 6 hours ago via Twitter

Sign up for our alumni + friends newsletter



For more information about this or other CIA news, contact us here.

Read More

Pre-College Program

Sharpen your artistic skills at CIA's Pre-College Program this summer.

Read More

Nicky Nodjoumi and Dinner by Design exhibitions

CIA welcomes spring with two wildly different shows.

Read More

Cores + Connections

Learn more about CIA's proven method for academic and professional excellence.