Leading up to the 50th celebration this August, we will be featuring various alumni and professors of the Cortona alumni family. This week we would like to introduce you to alumnus (and now professor) Kelly Schmidt!
Name: Kelly Schmidt
University/Major/degree: Columbia College Chicago; MFA in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts. Hartford Art School; BFA in Printmaking.
Student or Professor?: Previous student, Current professor!
Semester in Cortona: Student during Fall 2010, Professor during Fall 2018.
Course(s) taken/taught in Cortona: Taken as a student- etching and paper/book arts. Taught as faculty- etching and drawing.
Favorite flavor of gelato: Pistachio!
Current profession: Adjunct Professor of Art
Accolades: I've taught many classes and workshops with artists ranging in age from kindergarteners to octogenarians. My work has been shown across the US as well as in Italy and Egypt. Recently, I've had the pleasure of juyring a couple shows in Florida.
Currently residing in: Pensacola, Florida
Tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to since Cortona:
Since my time in Cortona as a student, a lot has happened! But, currently, since returning to the States just a week ago after the Fall 2018 semester, I'm re-adjusting to American food and cuddling my two cats!
Tell us a little more about your career path. What made you choose your current profession?
I've always known I wanted to teach art. I fell in love with printmaking while at Hartford Art School, and then became obsessed with hand papermaking after learning the process while studying in Cortona. I went on to get my MFA in papermaking because of that one incredible, life changing class. (Thanks, JoAnne Paschall!) I've taught classes in many disciplines of printmaking, papermaking, drawing, and two-dimensional design.
Let's talk about Cortona. What is one of your favorite memories from your time there?
Oh, man. What isn't a favorite memory? I still keep in touch with my roommates, their friendship is invaluable. We went on so many mini-excusions together to the hot springs and seeing the olive oil extrusion process. One day, I stayed in Cortona to work in the studio.. when I came back to our room, Izzy had won a 15lb prosciutto at a fair and was proudly displaying it on my bed. I think she walked on her hands across a piazza to win that thing!
How has Cortona influenced how you live or work today?
First, taking that papermaking class with JoAnne completely changed my life. It helped me decide to go to grad school, and narrow down my search to only include programs that focused on papermaking and printmaking. My work went from being strictly two-dimensional etchings to much more sculptural, interdisciplinary, and larger scale.
Second, I knew I had to return to Cortona to teach. I wanted to pass along my incredible experience to other young artists, and be able to share the magic of Cortona with more new life-long friends. I feel so lucky to have these opportunities!
Speaking of influences, if you could have dinner with any three people, from history or alive today, who would you pick?
Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, and Sol LeWitt. (Can we eat at La Logetta?)
Before we go, what are you currently working on? Any projects or announcements you would like to share?
Artistically, I've been working a lot with surface texture. I've also been thinking a lot about line- my work is usually very organic, but I've been lusting after architecture lately.
Personally, I got engaged in Cortona this [past] October! We are so excited, and can't wait to visit again soon!