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Pursuit of Success: Academy Graduate Set to Conquer the Art World

The qualities of hard work and self-determination that the Academy of Art University instills in its students are essential in the art world. MFA Painting graduate Jennifer Wildermuth has continued to apply these qualities to her work after graduating and its paying off. She is independently showing a collection of paintings, called Pursuit of Beauty, at Bella Pelle, a renowned San Francisco skin spa. Jennifer did all of the preparation for the month-long exhibition herself and planned an artist’s reception, as well.

When the Wisconsin native was searching for graduate schools, she knew what she was looking for: a West Coast art school that emphasized technical rather than conceptual training. Her undergraduate painting program had accentuated the latter, so she found the Academy’s MFA Painting program to be a perfect fit.

“I think you need both,” she said, explaining the Academy’s draw. “I had so much of the conceptual that I wanted to balance it out.”

At the Academy, she found a supportive and attentive learning environment. Directed Study, a unique feature of the Academy of Art University’s MFA program, kept her particularly motivated. Directed Study allows students to work one-on-one with advisors to develop specific skills to successfully complete their final thesis project. Bao Ping, a Graduate Painting instructor, particularly influenced Jennifer and kept her encouraged throughout her time at the Academy.

“He has tons of technical advice to give, but more importantly he is very enthusiastic about what he is doing and what his students are doing,” she said. “His attitude is one of the main things that kept me motivated throughout my time at the Academy.”

In addition to instructors, her Academy colleagues have been invaluable resources. One of Jennifer’s peers from the Academy knew the owners of Bella Pelle and had shown there before. Jennifer proposed the exhibit and explained its concept. The owners felt the theme of Pursuit of Beauty, women preparing themselves for the outside world by “getting beautiful,” fit in perfectly with the spa.


“I’m interested in the female form as a traditional subject matter for western paintings as well as the contemporary issue of women being judged by how they look,” she said.

But because of the loaded subject matter, she tries not to make any sort of judgments or state opinions in her pieces.

“I want viewers to form their own opinions,” she said.

Even though she graduated from the Academy in December 2006, she continues to benefit from its encouraging community. Jennifer is curating a group show in October with fellow Academy alumni at the SPACE gallery in San Francisco. These Academy peers have continued to motivate her.

“The people I’ve met at the Academy – the core group – hang out, share work and let each other know about shows,” she said. “Its really nice to have people that I can relate to.”


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