Featured Alum: Cristian Andersson

Cristian Andersson graduated in 2013 with a double major in Studio Arts and Design Arts. Cristian now works as a full time artist in his community with many different projects including: paintings, installation, and performance arts.

What do you do now? Primarily… I am a full-time artist. I work in painting, installation, and performance art. I am also deeply involved with connecting the community to the arts by curating numerous exhibitions for both student and professional artists, facilitating a SPARK! program that I started with the Paine Art Center and Gardens (working with people living with memory loss and their care partners through artistic expression), teaching the occasional art class to students and adults, and helping with the organization of a local gallery walk.

Why did you decide to major in Studio and Design Arts? It was out of necessity! Years ago I went to art school in Chicago, leaving with less than a year left to get my degree. A questionable choice, but I was standing up for something I believed in. After that decision I spent a decade in a profession that I appreciated, and did well in, but wasn’t… me. I completely understood that being in the arts was where I had to be, and I was grateful for the studio classes and professors at UWGB. Along with a studio major I had to choose another minor (or major), and I elected design arts, which has greatly helped with my promotional abilities, making me a more self-sufficient artist. It was a lot of work when I was in school, but I sincerely appreciate all that I learned from both majors.

What academic experience or accomplishment are you most proud of? Going back to school later in life and graduating is a pretty big one. Even when I was in school in Chicago I was classified as a non-traditional student, as I was already years out of high school. Making the decision to go to UWGB was certainly not without concern — was going back so late in life, especially for something like art, a good move — but that did not dissuade me. In fact, in encouraged me. This was a chance that I could not fail at, and I owed it to myself to work as hard as I could to succeed. I cannot thank the professors and students enough for making me feel welcome. There wasn’t a point where I felt like going back to school was easy, but when I received my degree in 2013, graduating summa cum laude, I was extremely proud of receiving it.

What is an important goal or accomplishment you are currently working on? Artistically, it is to push my practice. Recently I have experimented with contemporary dance with a collaborative partner of mine. Adding ideas of physical movement have radically changed how I approach my work. In my community, it is the development of the SPARK! program at the Paine Art Center and Gardens. I had volunteered working with people living with dementia for over five years, and creating a new opportunity for this population is extremely important to me. In 2020, I hope to expand my scope by helping create an intergenerational partnership between college students, people with mid stage dementia living in assisted care, and art. On top of that, I am also planning some new initiatives next year that I hope will increase the awareness and understanding of contemporary art being locally created and the community at large. I’m terribly excited.

What do you do for fun?  Does fun need to mean “outside of my work?” Right now, the fun for me is accepting challenges. Those same challenges that may even frighten me at times. Well, the probably always do. Because I know that through those challenges I will grow my practice. You know what else is fun for me? Seeing my peers succeed. I am incredibly happy to be a part of this artistic community and I absolutely love going to see a show or admire the work of the creatives around. We really are fortunate around here.

What else do you want people to know about you? My father died when he was fifty-two, and I was thirty. This moment had, and continues to have, a tremendous effect on me. Life is short, yeah, yeah, yeah. But, it is. Am I’m going to do my best with what I’ve got left.

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