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She could still be considered a newcomer to the art world, but by the end of the summer Sara Talias ’07 (Wyckoff, N.J.) will have an edge over some who have been in the profession for years.

Talias will have used her technological know-how to design clothing and posters, learned tips of the craft from aged artists, and helped make presentations to dealers.

And that’s just the beginning.

Working with Ed Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp II ’36 Professor of Art, Talias, a double major in art and psychology, is getting a peek at every aspect of being a professional artist, from the design of a piece to its sale.

A typical day for Talias can include responsibilities such as designing scarves, creating a large, digital print of a painting, setting up conferences with potential dealers, or researching imagery.

“There’s a lot to do; it’s a rich, dense environment,” Kerns says. “And the more you do, the better you do it.”

Kerns and Talias are working together through Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, in which students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. The program has helped to make Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate each year share their work through articles in academic journals and/or conference presentations.

An internationally known abstract painter, Kerns has mounted more than 30 one-person shows and participated in more than 150 group exhibitions in the United States, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Mexico. His work is in numerous public and corporate collections, and has been reviewed in many journals and magazines.

“Sara was chosen because she was a shining light in her first year’s class,” Kerns says. “She is a high-end kid. She had a 4.0 GPA throughout the year, so she is devoted to her work, and is very interested in design, particularly fashion design.”

Talias wants to improve her knowledge of the state-of-the-art technology used in Lafayette’s Williams Visual Arts Building, where Kerns and his studio are based. The time she spends creating digital images for items ranging from scarves to large, printed canvases, is affording her that opportunity, she says.

She also wants to learn more about visual thinking.

“It’s interesting — very different from any type of typical paint medium or any traditional art medium,” says Talias, whose favorite medium is watercolor.

Helping more experienced artists convert their ideas into digital imagery has also given Talias a feel for the different sorts of career paths available to her, she says, adding that she isn’t certain which direction her education will take her.

“It’s interesting to see what everyone is doing, when you walk through the studio and see all the different art,” Talias says. “It’s interesting to see how they’re developing their work.”

While Talias’ work with Kerns may not be as intensely rooted in the traditional idea of research, she will leave her EXCEL experience with just as much knowledge as someone studying a complex mathematical or engineering problem.

“To someone who is not in the field, it may seem to be not as narrowly focused as academic research, but actually it’s perfect for the medium,” Kerns says. “If you think about it, everyone’s making a model of something and that’s what we’re doing, we’re modeling visual concepts in multi-media and visual technology.”

“When [students] come out of this place with the resume materials, the real projects, the portfolio…they get a very unique experience and I don’t know of too many places that do this level this quickly,” he adds.

Talias is a graduate of the Immaculate Heart Academy.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Forty-two Lafayette students were accepted to present their work at the last annual conference in April.

Categorized in: Academic News