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Art student takes non-traditional approach to school, life

student portrait taken in art studio
December 09, 2013

Standing next to a television covered in magenta frosted roses, Amy Gochoel describes herself as a “loud, wild and crazy person.” Given that she is majoring in sculpture through the School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University, it seems rather fitting that she steers away from normal and prefers the unique.

Gochoel began her journey at ASU in the psychology program, but left to start a family. When she returned to the university, she enrolled in the art education program and took a sculpting class on a whim. The class changed her, and she hasn’t left the sculpting department since.

She says that the strong theoretical teachings combined with hands-on experience provide a well-rounded education. The program also encourages students to take creative liberty with their work. A supportive atmosphere ties everything together.

“We work in teams a lot. It really fosters a close-knit community. You build strong relationships with your professors because the program only accepts a certain number of students. I love it,” said Gochoel.

Inspiration for her projects comes from her personal experiences, as well the media industry. Gochoel was a professional photographer for 12 years, and also dabbled in modeling. As such, she has a keen interest in the idea of beauty and how others perceive it.  

“There is society’s way of viewing beauty, through the eyes of advertising, and there is what you're taught through nurture, and how you feel. I use frosting to depict the beauty rituals that we go through. It’s tempting and delicious, and we desire to have it,” she said.

Gochoel is perfectly fine putting her opinions and body on the line for her artwork. Along with her love of frosting, she has appeared nude, incorporated metalwork and tried out body casting in her pieces.

“People would describe my work as racy and raunchy at times. They often ask if I’m afraid to show my daughter or dad. If I didn’t feel comfortable showing it to the people closest to me then I wouldn’t do it.”

“My daughter has been raised in a crazy environment, so she gets it before others do. I’ve taught her that it is important not to be ashamed of your body or hide it,” she said.

Thanks to Google Calendar, she can easily manage her busy schedule.

“My calendar looks like a NASA space launch. I schedule everything from my classes to picking up my daughter from school. I don’t sleep a lot, but it’s okay, because I like where I am,” she said.

After graduation she would like to attend a graduate school and secure a job in higher education. Before she begins the next chapter, she has a few words of advice for parents thinking about retuning to school.

“Hit the ground running and don’t look back. Just take it day by day and don’t be afraid to get dirty,” she said.