Northwestern boasts many talented artists within its many programs and departments. The art department is no exception, where student Emily Schwarz holds a bright future as a K-12 art teacher.
Schwarz spent most of her life living in California and began her college career at a community college there, but she transferred to NW after her family moved to Iowa.
Originally, Schwarz did not plan on becoming an art major. Art had always been her older sister’s thing, so she never thought it would be her path as well. However, after she took a ceramics class at her community college, she fell in love with pottery. Then, after taking a general biology course at NW, Schwarz let go of her idea of becoming a veterinarian, deciding that science wasn’t for her. For some time, she was undecided, but eventually decided to major in art and secondary education.
“I was gifted in very specific ways to be a teacher,” Emily said. “But I didn’t want to teach a very boring subject.”
The visual arts were the perfect solution.
Schwarz’s favorite medium of art remains pottery. Even though she has already taken the ceramics class at NW, she is taking the class again this semester to learn the tips and tricks of other professors. Throwing (making pottery at a wheel) is her favorite kind of pottery, but she also enjoys hand-building. Schwarz loves playing with texture in pottery, whether additive (putting features on top of a piece with clay called “slip”) or subtractive (cutting patterns into the clay). While studying abroad in Romania, she bought some pieces with additive texture and was enamored by them.
However, Schwarz doesn’t necessarily consider drawing her strong suit, but she’s happy that after taking the drawing class at NW she was able to grow in her confidence and abilities. She jokes that lots of artists are either naturally gifted at pottery or drawing and painting, never both at the same time.
Each of the senior art majors at NW has their own showcase. Although Schwarz is technically a senior, because of her transfer, time with no declared major, and semester abroad in Romania, she will be taking an additional year of school, so her showcase will be next year. Still, she is already thinking toward the future and what she hopes to include in her exhibition.
Usually, these showcases have their own themes, and Schwarz shares that she has been thinking of framing hers around the idea of how people experience God. With this idea, she would hope to interview friends and family and make pieces based on their answers. She ponders including music in the gallery, creating multi-medium work and including pieces with lettering and calligraphy.
As for post-graduation plans, Schwarz sees herself teaching high school art.
“I like the idea of being able to build relationships with students,” she said. “I want my classroom to be the place where people can hang out and feel really comfortable in that space.”
Schwarz also likes the idea of teaching at a public school in an urban setting with more diversity but reiterates that “I mainly want to just go where I’m needed.”
Integrating faith and learning is one of NW’s cornerstones, and Schwarz shares this passion for living out her faith in her career. She muses on how actions speak louder than words.
“I want to be an example of Christ,” she said. “By serving others, I’m serving God, and that’s one of the biggest things I got from Romania. You can talk all day, but the stuff that sticks is actions. Everything is to honor God. If we can utilize art, or our speech, or our actions, to honor God, then that is how we should be walking.”