After graduating from Luther with an Art degree in 2012, Courtney was hired as an arts administrator at Lanesboro Arts Center, a multidisciplinary, non-profit arts center in Lanesboro, MN. At Lanesboro Arts Center, Courtney has worked closely on a capital campaign to raise funds for the Lanesboro Arts Campus, a creative placemaking initiative focused on integrating the arts into the infrastructure of Lanesboro (pop. 754). She has been the lead fundraiser for the $1.1 million initiative, securing funds from national organizations such as ArtPlace America, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Americans for the Arts. In 2013, she accompanied her director to a number of national conferences to present on the Lanesboro Arts Campus model.
Aside from her work as an administrator, Courtney works as an independent artist and recently received a McKnight Emerging Artist Grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council for a ceramics project entitled "Of the Earth." This grant opportunity allowed Courtney to use her family's ancestral farmland as an inspiration for a body of work, which culminated in an exhibition at Lanesboro Arts Center. She is continuing to work on the forms that inspired the show, which incorporates hand built ceramic sculpture with natural materials such as moss, wood, and small plants.
Did you come to Luther College with the intention of majoring in Art? If so, did the program meet your expectations? If not, what experience led you to the major?What is your current career path in art?
I began my career at Luther as an English major because I was interested in writing, then switched to Communication Studies because I realized how much I loved working with people. I had also toyed with the idea of museum work and pursuing the Arts Management track, so I took Foundations: Visual Thinking with David Kamm to satisfy a credit and explore the art department a little bit. That class inspired revelation after revelation for me--I started to understand the actual process of making art, and was constantly learning about how to communicate ideas visually. Plus it gave me confidence in my aesthetic, which I definitely needed at the time--I did not see myself as an artist! It also led me to take more art history classes, which is another passion of mine. I officially became an Art major after working with Dr. Kate Elliott to create a bit of a hybrid degree that incorporated art history, arts education, and arts administration with the studio art experience.
My current career path could not be more representative of my journey at Luther. I was offered a full-time administrative position at Lanesboro Arts Center in Lanesboro, MN, combining my interests in writing, working with people, education, and the arts. I like to call myself an executive multi-tool because I have to wear so many hats in my job--I write grants, communicate with our artists, spearhead our membership program, and assist with many program and marketing tasks. In addition to my day job, I teach after school art classes through community education and am a working artist in ceramics and fiber. I sell my work locally, and I just completed a McKnight Emerging Artist Grant project I was awarded through the Southeastern Minnesota Council.
What is the most valuable thing you took away from your Art major at Luther?
The most valuable thing I took away from Luther is the importance of connections and advocating for your work. As artists, we need to se the value of what we bring to our communities and advocate for that!
What advice would you give to an art student at Luther today?
I would tell students to start developing relationships with professional artists, galleries and arts organizations. Get familiar with artist service organizations and put your name on mailing lists for residency programs, grant opportunities and upcoming events.