Studio Arts Graduate Named CPVA Valedictorian

Published: April 18, 2023 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 5 minutes

College of Performing and Visual Arts valedictorian Breonna PerryBreonna Perry has been named the 2023 valedictorian for Southern Utah University’s College of Performing and Visual Arts. She is graduating with a degree in fine arts with an emphasis in ceramics and sculpture and a double minor in art history and CAD/CAM. She will also be graduating from the SUU Honors Program. She plans to begin working as an independent artist and start building her career after graduation.

“Breonna is an exceptional honors student and artist who has been one of the most curious and proactive students I have had the privilege to work with in the SUU Honors Program,” said Katie Englert, interim director of the Honors Program. “She went above and beyond in her Honors Capstone project and made a unique jewelry line. I was excited to have her join me and other students at the Western Regional Honors Council Conference in Missoula, Montana this spring where she was able to present her work and learn from her peers. I wish her the best of luck and I have no doubt she will continue to do great things educationally, artistically, and otherwise.”

SUU has very accomplished staff and faculty in the Art and Design Department who help their students succeed and grow in their art, while simultaneously finding their own style and preferred mediums. Perry offers special thanks to Jason Walker, lecturer of ceramics, and Russell Wrankle, associate professor of sculpture, for their guidance.

“All the professors in the art department are amazing,” said Perry. “Professor Walker and Professor Wrankle are the two main educators of the ceramics program. They have always been so willing to share their knowledge and connections.”

As an Honors Program student for the entirety of her time at SUU, Perry offers her additional thanks to Katie Englert for her assistance throughout her academic journey.

Along with her classes, Perry has been involved in many extracurricular activities on campus, often gravitating towards academic-centric clubs. Her most notable involvements include serving as a council member for the Honors Program in the role of vice president of community life.

“I’m also the current president of the Ceramics Guild on campus,” Perry said. “It’s a student-run organization where we provide opportunities for art students to sell their work. We also provide avenues for them to travel and attend local and national conferences.”

Both roles allowed her to plan events, encourage community outreach, and foster community among students.

She also had the opportunity to work in SUU’s Thunderworks Makerspace in the Engineering Building last year as the art outreach liaison.

“The whole goal of working in the Makerspace was to familiarize more art students with the space,” said Perry. “Throughout the launching of the program, the TA’s and I have also had the opportunity to get familiar with the equipment. That experience has allowed me to implement so many new mediums into my work.”

Growing up in Brigham City, Utah, Perry’s main hobby was ballet, which she took for almost 15 years. Along with dancing, Perry enjoys hiking and being outdoors (which was part of the reason why she chose SUU). She hadn’t done ceramics or visual art before coming to college, but was instantly enticed by it when she took a class at SUU.

“It’s hard to identify just one thing to be passionate about,” Perry stated. “I’m really passionate about what I do, and I really have fallen in love with ceramics and sculpture. I am also very passionate about the outdoors and I love finding ways to combine the two.”

Perry is a very accomplished student across the board and is grateful for the learning experiences that she has received during her time attending SUU.

“SUU gives you so many opportunities to succeed from the moment you become a student here and I couldn’t be more grateful for the experiences I’ve had,” said Perry.

Majors from all different backgrounds experience a lot of the same struggles throughout their college experience, and the challenges Perry has faced have only helped her learn.

“Anything you do is going to have challenges, and in a college setting, I think if it wasn’t challenging, then it wouldn’t be worth it,” Perry said.

One of the challenges Perry is most proud of completing has been the challenge to create an exhibition for her Senior BFA show. Perry has spent the last year creating unconventional furniture to be displayed, taking inspiration from the outdoors, specifically the Southern Utah landscape. She considers this as one of her proudest moments as an artist.

“My art is up in SUMA right now. It’s been so many hours spent working to get it there and it feels so rewarding to see it all come together,” she said. “This show is something my professors have encouraged me to think about well before this year started, and it is one of the projects I have looked forward to most. I’m infinitely grateful for the experience that participating in this show has provided and I can’t wait to be a part of more shows in the future.”

Following graduation, Perry plans to begin building her art practice and hopes to one day work as an independent artist full time. She plans to find a standard summer job and hopes to one day open her own ceramics practice where she can create freely. What she loves most about being an artist is that she never has to tie herself down to doing just one thing–she gets to experiment with different mediums and means of expression over an entire lifetime.

Perry offers her advice to incoming and current students;

“Enjoy the college experience because it goes by fast. Looking back, you see a lot of things you wish you would have done, but you also see all that you accomplished,” said Perry. “Also, find your mentors early on. Have someone you look up to and build that relationship with them. The best feedback will often come from your professors, and those mentor relationships can evolve into great friendships as well.”

Southern Utah University’s Commencement Ceremony will be held on Friday, April 28, 2023, at 8:30 a.m. in the America First Event Center. The Commencement Ceremony is open to all graduating students and their guests. Tickets are not required, but graduates and their families will be given priority seating.

Visit SUU’s graduation website for a full schedule of events.

Tags: Art and Design Graduation College of Performing and Visual Arts

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