Maddesen Wright (Class of 2016)

Major: Illustration

I chose Marywood for a lot of reasons. Like many people who come here, I love the area. I get the experience of attending art school without being too far from home, and since I grew up in a small town in a valley, I’m definitely no city slicker, so Scranton works well for me; I’m just on top of the hill now instead of at the bottom. I looked at big schools in big cities like NY and Philly right off the bat, but when I came to Marywood, something felt like home. Not many East Coast schools offer illustration programs believe it or not, so to find one that fit without the skyscrapers was a major win. I’m also too multifaceted to go to JUST an art school. I would consider myself a scholar by nature, so I really value my liberal arts education and the opportunity to get involved in so many different leadership positions here at Marywood. Plus, the skiing is good ’round these parts, which was VERY attractive to me.

I am majoring in Art because I love art. There is nothing else in this world I have ever wanted to do more, and it’s never been a dilemma. I am one of the blessed few who has always known what I wanted to do with my life, and my parents never discouraged me. This was always the career path they saw me on too, so when I told them I wanted to go to art school, it really wasn’t a surprise. I want to make movies- specifically the art for animated films. I’m particularly interested in storyboarding because I love to draw more than anything else, and I love to write and tell stories, so that position would be a perfect fit for me. But I really like the design work that goes into movies too—character design, visual development, look development, maybe even set design. I’m also blessed with connections and exposure unlike any other kid my age that I know. I have friends who work at different studios who have really helped me get on the right path. My mentor Jed Diffenderfer, the man who wrote my letter of recommendation for Marywood, has worked at DreamWorks, Disney, and now Illumination Studios, and through him, I also have connections to artists at BlueSky Studios. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without those guys. They’re like my fairy god-artists. It certainly is a struggle sometimes, but Jed told me once, “this isn’t for people who love it; it’s for people who can’t stop even when they want to.”

When I’m not in class, I’m around my residence hall mostly, but you can also find me in the Schwartz Center a lot, or at the Learning Commons where I work at the circulation desk. I’m on RA staff, I’m an orientation leader, an ASCENT New Student Retreat leader, a 4:12 for Women group leader, and now I’m a blogger too. I like to stay involved and make my mark on a place, and through all these activities, I’ve made a lot of wonderful friends, and found my Marywood family. I really love being involved with faith life on campus, and working with the freshman through my leadership positions. As extroverted as all that may seem, and as outgoing as I am, I really do depend on introversion to recharge though. I’m a really strong believer in putting your mental health first because a happy mind makes for a healthy body and a productive person. When it’s just me, myself and I, I’m usually watching a movie or reading a graphic novel. I love that stuff. It fills the inspiration bank. I write a bit too, and I’m always listening to music or dancing around. Gotta keep the happy flowing.

My favorite class is a toss up between Mark Webber’s Drawing I and Dr. Christa Irwin’s Art History surveys. I had never taken an art history class before, only gotten minimal exposure to certain pieces from a teacher of mine in high school, who happens to be a Marywood alumna. But Dr. Irwin made me LOVE it! She inspires me to make deeper connections between everything I experience now and art from the past, and the study of art history. There is art history in almost everything. I think that’s really cool. I got a lot of art history in Mark’s class too, but I learned so much from him as a draftsman. He made me think about things like composition, angular correctness, and line quality. My drawing really improved under his direction and encouragement. Another close one would be Computer Graphics I with Sue Jenkins. I learned the basis of everything I know about Adobe programs in that class, and started implementing the principles of design more than I ever had in my projects. My use of color improved and I found a love for design as I learned more about myself as a draftsman and designer. I really value the skills and knowledge I have obtained from everyone of those classes, so I guess I can’t really choose.

The coolest thing I’ve done so far at Marywood so far wasn’t actually at Marywood, but is abstractly related to Marywood. I met my best friend Sarah here, and the summer before sophomore year we took a 160 foot plunge in a harness together. WICKED THRILL. Without her, I’d have never had the guts to try something like that, and without Marywood I wouldn’t have her. The coolest thing I’ve done at Marywood was probably be crowned Homecoming Duchess. That was pretty cool. I wasn’t popular like ever. People knew my name in high school, but they didn’t really know me, or give me a chance. It’s so different here, and it felt really great to be liked, and even encouraged, by a community who sees me for ME.

When I graduate I better have a job. Enough said. I plan on going into an internship program with BlueSky studios hopefully right after graduation, and then into an apprenticeship at Disney Studios to get my foot in a couple of doors. The goal is to be in the pool of the elect few who could be pulled for jobs out of those programs. Then in a few years or so, you can all say “Hey! I know her,” when you see my name roll by in the credits of the next animated blockbuster.

I’d recommend the Art program at Marywood because we have amazing facilities, amazing teachers, and above all, an amazing community here waiting to embrace you. People come to college for an education, and you’ll get that here, but you’ll get so much more as well. The memories and relationships people make at Marywood are priceless. My best friends are art majors, business majors, and nutrition majors. I’m surrounded by diversity, and I pull a lot of inspiration from that. You don’t get that kind of exposure to different information when everyone around you is studying the same thing. You really get a chance to be unique here if you want to be. Standing up and standing out can be hard. It’s a difficult and awkward time for everyone in college, but what better way to stand up and stand out, and express yourself than with art? What better use of emotion could there be? I really think the Art program at Marywood intends for students to foster that kind of creativity, and if nothing else, realize who they are as an artist. I may not always like everything I make here, but I have learned more about myself as an artist and a person under the direction of my teachers and the influence of my peers here. I don’t know if anywhere else is quite like that, and I think we all need it. You get that at Marywood.