The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) counts among its alumni the famous painter Grant Wood (American Gothic), the American fashion designer Halston and even the iconic Missouri painter Thomas Hart Benton. Soon, OTC alumnus Arianne Garner will join their ranks as a student at the renowned art school.
Garner earned a yearly, renewable scholarship to SAIC for the 2021-22 school year, and they will begin classes there this fall.
“I was just skimming my emails at two in the morning and learned that I’d won the scholarship,” Arianne said. “I burst into tears and told my mom. She was super excited.”
While Arianne isn’t new to art, they are a new fine arts student. They moved to Missouri to live with their mom after graduating from high school in North Carolina. Arianne started at OTC in the fall of 2018 in the graphic design department. They were about three-quarters of the way through the program when they took their first fine arts class with Department Chair Kat Allie.
“I had been painting on the side, but just as a hobby,” Arianne said. “When I got into her class, Kat said, ‘You know, you are really good.’”
Arianne realized that oil painting was their passion. They took more fine arts classes and began applying to four-year colleges where they could pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts. However, Arianne didn’t have an extensive enough portfolio to apply to some of the more prestigious art schools, so they dedicated most of their free time to painting.
“I was trying to build my portfolio and go to school,” Arianne said. “I told my friends, ‘You won’t see me for the next few months because I’m really putting it in gear.’”
The hard work paid off with Arianne’s acceptance to SAIC and the scholarship award. They credit Kat, who encouraged Arianne and introduced them to other faculty who were willing to help.
“I love the personal feel at OTC. Kat’s the department chair, and she took the time to go to art walk with me and worked with me on my independent study,” Arianne said. “I saw another OTC teacher’s display at art walk. I’d never taken her class, but she told me, ‘I’ll help you out. I’ll give you some tips and stuff.’ It’s endearing. It makes you feel you have a lot of support.”
While Arianne didn’t begin their college journey in OTC’s Fine Arts Department, they definitely made their mark on the department.
“Arianne is the first OTC student to receive a scholarship to the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago,” Kat said. “I am positive that Arianne is going great places and I’m so proud of the fact that they found their creative voice, honed their artistic techniques and expanded their art portfolio right here at OTC.”
Before they head out to the Windy City, Arianne will host an art show with Kat at First Friday Art Walk in Springfield on Friday, June 4. The show will be at Obelisk Home from 6-10 p.m. You can purchase Arianne’s prints and t-shirts on their Etsy page.