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Art degrees deemed useless, students persevere

Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05

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Karina Rodriguez / The Prospector

Aaron Martinez, senior ceramics major, works on a ceramic project while in class.

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Karina Rodriguez / The Prospector

Briseida Ochoa, sophomore studio art major, works on one of her paintings.

   Victor Muheddine, a recent UTEP graduate, lived the life of a freelance artist but had to keep a steady job just to maintain a living.

“I think it’s hard to maintain a regular job with a BFA in painting,” Muheddine said. “The best thing that you can do is to do what you can to get by as an artist and apply to every opportunity you can get, I had to get a part-time job at EPCC as an art lab assistant.”

In April of 2012 Newsweek’s “The Daily Beast” ranked 13 majors that are considered to be the most useless. A degree in fine arts was ranked number one.

The research contains information collected by two years of investigation conducted by Georgetown University and from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This research determined what the most popular majors are and what their perspective future incomes would be.

Graduates who hold a fine arts degree face an unemployment rate of 12.6 percent and if employed should expect an average income of $30,000 a year. As for experienced graduates, the unemployment rate is 7.3 percent and if employed they earn approximately $45,000.

Therese Bauer, art department advisor and drawing lecturer, does not consider a degree in fine arts all that useless.

“Granted it’s not like engineering,” Bauer said. “Students go into an art degree with their eyes open and recognize that there are advantages and disadvantages to an art degree, but it’s not as limited as people might think, it’s about being creative thinkers.”

Despite what the statistics say, some students pursuing a degree in art already know what to do with their degree.

Sharai Zamora, junior art major, is considering a double major by adding psychology to her degree plan. She believes that she can combine the two majors to help her study the effects of how people are attracted to advertisements through the use of art.

“You know, the whole input of psychology in advertising and it’s interesting to me how the mind can be manipulated through art to do different things, like buying useless products and such,” Zamora said. “This art [degree] can help me so that sometime later I can go into advertising.”

Adrian Loera, senior sculpture major, plans to work for the city in landscaping artwork, however he feels the pressure of showcasing his artwork to broadcast himself as an artist.

“Thankfully UTEP provides a few venues for students to showcase their work, I plan on doing this sometime next semester,” Loera said. “Personally, I haven’t been really active yet, but this is the year for me to break out, I think my future is a little brighter.”

According to Bauer, students who have pursued a degree in the art field from UTEP have been able to travel around the U.S.

“I would say that there’s about a dozen to 15 UTEP alumni working in New York City doing graphic design,” Bauer said. “One of them, I know personally, is working for Ralph Lauren doing layouts for their catalogs.”

Pursuing an art major can lead to other professional work as a museum gallery director, museum curator, or in fields of education, art therapy, web design, animation, theater set-up and freelance.

“This is a field where you have to really love what you’re doing and if you’re not passionate about it then you’re in the wrong field,” Bauer said.

Marilyn Aleman may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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