Professor and independent artist Catherine Graffam discuss teaching, being an artist, and life advice.
By Abi Brown
So what kind of involvement do you take part in on campus?
I’d say my involvement is relatively minimal outside of like helping specific students who are in my classes. But, I am becoming a faculty advisor for a club that I think is starting this semester for embroidery, and that’s really exciting so I’m super stoked to be on board with that.
So is teaching your only job?
No, it is not.
What else do you?
So I wear many hats… I have my own painting art career, I teach, and then also I am an exhibitions manager at a gallery, I’m an expressions manager at Gallery263 which is an art gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
What do you like most about it, and what do you like most about being a professor here?
For me, having a professor or a teacher to really help me and inspire me and really take me under their wing during college was so instrumental and helpful for me to grow my own career and passion for art. I want to be that for the next generation because that is super important to me.
What is something you maybe wish your students would get more involved with?
Everything! Extracurriculars, really utilizing your time here, going to the library, go to a club. You don’t appreciate how much resources you have access to while you’re in college until you’re gone. I definitely did not utilize so many resources and I regret it, hardcore. I guilt myself because I’m like why am I not taking advantage of like free yoga and there’s like a free gym and I don’t take advantage of that. That would be the thing.
Do you have any advice on how a student could get more involved with the arts on and off-campus?
Yes, definitely. So there’s the gallery on campus that often has shows where they ask students to participate with their art and anybody can submit to those. So you can get into an exhibition and that’s a really great way to start. One of my former students is starting an embroidery club because she found passion in that and that was like a great way to continue on campus. Off-campus I would say Boston has so many great museums and art galleries. Just going to them is like super beneficial, even if you’re not going to be an artist, you won’t regret going to art museums. Also, you have free access to them, another great resource in college. Otherwise, I would say you can make art to heal yourself and nurture yourself. You should do the things that you’re passionate about and nurture you creatively and utilize social media, make a website, that’s where I got my start. Start branding yourself. That sounds terrible, so like getting your artwork out now before you’re out of college and you’re like shit, I could have been doing this for the past four years.
Do you have anything else you want to add or talk about an interesting tidbit?
Advice would be… utilize your class time and make an assignment something for your personal career growth, and put the assignment somewhere else. For instance, at my art gallery, we have an art journal where anyone can submit reviews of any writing topic about art in Boston that they want to write about. So if you ever want to write something for the website for the gallery, like interviewing an artist or something you can literally do that and I will help you with that… Professors are here to help you, that’s why we’re here. We want to see each student succeed to their full potential.