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The Strength of an Art Major: Annelise Duque Talks About Graduation, Looks to the Future

Duque will speak at the Department of Art and Department of Design Convocation at 12 p.m. on April 26 Annelise Duque knew she wanted to be an artist from a fairly young age. Having been raised by two professors — one of whom was a ceramic artist — Annelise decided on her career path early on. However, she originally planned on studying illustration, since she thought it would help her on that journey. “I had a professor in a non-major watercolor class I took for fun, and she had gotten her BFA in the studio art program here at BYU,” Duque said. “She said, ‘Annelise, do you know what illustration really entails?’ Because I thought that it was all kids books, but it turns out it’s a lot more commission-based.” Wanting to make more of her own artistic decisions, Duque decided studio art was closer to what she was looking for in a major and career path. “The art program, compared to the design and illustration programs, is more about individual artists and what they want to do and their own path,” Duque said. “They’re still great, just different. So, I started making art more about myself.” Her experience in the Department of Art has been overwhelmingly positive, she says. She found her professors to be very caring and personally invested. The biggest standout moment to her was when her professor, Joe Ostraff, offered to give her the shirt off his back. “He was wearing this really cool long-sleeve white t-shirt with these graphic letters hand-printed onto it,” Duque said. She told him she liked the shirt and he asked if she’d like to have it. “I said, ‘Joe, I’m not going to take the literal shirt off of your back. I don’t need your shirt,’” Duque said. “Then the next day in class he just gave me the shirt all laundered and everything. I’m going to keep it forever.” Duque is hopeful looking to the future. While some see art degrees as less-than-useful, she insists that they are versatile. “When people ask you what you’re going to do once you graduate, a lot of people say, ‘I’m going to be an artist,’” Duque said. “A lot of people think that you just want to be an artist or you are going to try to be a high school art teacher or something, but our professors tell us all the time about students who have graduated in our program and now work as content creators or design consultants. An artistic background can help you get into new jobs.” Duque plans on working toward becoming an art professor. Having been raised by two professors, she says it runs in her blood.

“I’ve always wanted to be a professor,” Duque said. “I think because of that, my professors have made an effort to find me teaching opportunities or jobs that could help me get to that point. They’ve provided me with so much resume material that has really made me confident.” The word of wisdom Duque would leave other students, particularly women, is to stop selling themselves short. Though the art program is mostly composed of women, there aren’t many women that go on to study in graduate school and there are even fewer female professors in the program. “You have to just keep going,” Duque said. “Follow your path, follow your dreams, even if it feels stupid.”

Q&A with Annelise Duque, BFA '19 Art | Art

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? 'I was all over the place. I wanted to be an opera singer for probably the first eight years of my life, but then I wanted to be like my mom. She was a ceramic artist, and growing up she let me play around with clay and with paint and with all these different tools.' What’s your favorite snack to eat between classes? 'I get the cheese sticks and the flaxseed tortilla chips that are shaped like hexagons. Our art classes are three hours long during lunch and nap time, so a little bit of protein and salt helps wake you up in your classes.' Who or what is your inspiration? “I am inspired by my advisor. Her name is Jen Watson and she is the coolest person in the world. She got her BFA here, her undergrad here, and then she quit art for ten years or something. She became a snowboard instructor and really got to know herself and what she wanted to do. After that long break she realized, ‘I can be an artist on my own terms.’ And so she went to grad school and then she got hired here.”