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Community inspires student growth, success at ASU Herberger Institute

2017–18 season of events gives students opportunity to become better designers and artists

ASU School of Art grad student Lily Montgomery's art piece Distance // Cloudlight
August 16, 2017

Her sophomore year, Anissa Griego served as the assistant director and choreographer for the Lyric Opera Theatre student production of “Grease.” It was one of the greatest challenges of her life, onstage or off.

“I personally struggled through the process and battled with disappointment in myself,” said Greigo, a senior musical theater student in Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

But then she ran into someone who had seen the show. 

“She told me she never particularly liked ‘Grease’ as a show, but she had so much fun with our specific production, the actors and everything, that she really enjoyed it,” Griego said. “That meant so much to me. The real heart of our show was the blood, sweat and tears our crew put in, the patience and talent of our actors, and just simply, the love for what we do. It was reassuring to know that an audience member could leave with that, and they had so much fun nothing else mattered.”

Not only did Griego  play a part in providing a unique cultural experience for this audience member, but she also learned a lot from that production — something she wouldn’t have been able to do without an audience.

Attending a performance or an exhibition at the Herberger Institute is more than just seeing a show — it's helping students become better designers and artists, and preparing them to be the changemakers and cultural catalyst of tomorrow. For Herberger Institute students, practicing their craft in a laboratory environment and performing and sharing their work with an audience in the world-class venues at ASU is part of their educational experience, and the audience members are participating in that education every time they attend a show or visit an exhibition.

This fall the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts launches another season and, with it, the chance for the surrounding community to play a critical role in the lives of young designers and artists. 

Lily Montgomery says that as an art student at ASU, the opportunity to exhibit work in ASU art galleries gives her an advantage.

“I know plenty of well-known art schools where graduating MFA students don't get a solo show because they don't have the space,” Montgomery said. “It's an incredible advantage. As a post-MFA student, applying for any high-profile residency or research opportunity requires you to have an impressive CV of both solo and group shows. It puts ASU students ahead of the game if they use the opportunities wisely.”

Montgomery also finds the School of Art exhibitions valuable to her education because they provide her the chance to flex her curatorial skills.

“Curating is a skill that, like any profession, you have to learn,” she said. Montgomery has curated two shows in ASU galleries, including “Good Wonder,” which is part of the Herberger Institute’s 2017–18 season of events and opens later this month in Gallery 100.

“This showcasing and sharing is central to our pedagogical philosophy,” said Kimberlee Swisher, a lecturer in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering.

Swisher says when digital culture students present their projects at the end of each semester during the Digital Cultural Showcase, feedback from the community of people who could be using that work in the future is critical. And that’s not the only benefit students get from sharing their work.

“There is another more hidden benefit, too,” she said. “When students know they are going to share their work, they are compelled during the creation process to think about their work from multiple perspectives other than their own. This means that their perspective is shifted during the development process towards thinking about how they will present and describe their work to the audience at the showcase.”

For students involved with performing arts events, including musicians, actors, dancers and those working behind the scenes, the Herberger Institute’s concerts, theater productions and dance showcases allow them to hone their skills.

“It's a way of having a fresh perspective, and almost like a chance to test out and put forward everything that has been polished in classes with professors,” Griego said. “Getting to have an audience not only puts my education and studies to the test, but clarifies that this is what I want and am meant to be doing.”

Visit for a full listing of season events, and create your own season from the hundreds of events on offer. Patrons who buy tickets to three or more performing arts events before Sept. 15 save 25 percent on the total price.

Top photo: “Distance // Cloudlight” is a piece created by School of Art graduate student Lily Montgomery. Montgomery has curated an art show for the Herberger Institute’s 2017–18 season of events. (Courtesy photo)

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