MFA Interdisciplinary Arts and Media student Laura Elayne Miller’s background is as varied and interesting as the MFA program itself. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from the Theater Conservatory at Fordham University, she spent several years working in theater, film, and television in New York. In addition to directing both theater and film, Laura worked as a producer at MTV, BET, and TLC. In 2007, she attended the summer studio at Columbia University’s School of Architecture and felt that it was time to go back to school. As Laura puts it, “I waited to get my MFA until I knew exactly what I wanted from it.”
MFA Interdisciplinary Arts and Media student Laura Elayne Miller’s background is as varied and interesting as the MFA program itself.
Laura was looking for a way to integrate her interdisciplinary background with her interest in installation art when she found Columbia College. For Laura, the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media “was a really nice combination of being able to move into installation art, use different mediums, and continuing to make film and video.” She found that the varied backgrounds of her fellow students ended up “being tremendous for feedback and for collaboration.”
Laura believes that one of the best elements of the program is the time it gave her to develop her own body of work. Her thesis project, An Unquiet Mind: The Untold Story of Isabelle Cadieux, is a mixed-media installation featuring documentary footage, artworks, and artifacts from an unknown French Outsider Artist. The thesis project is a challenge, but Laura believes that it’s worth the effort. As she says, the thesis project is “the first time I made a developed body of art. It is intense and it can be grueling, but you really get to develop those ideas and experiment with your artistic process.”
Laura believes that one of the best elements of the program is the time it gave her to develop her own body of work.
Laura also “chose Columbia because it’s all about learning by doing.” During her three years at Columbia, Laura has been highly involved in all sorts of art. She has experimented with papermaking for the first time and been a part of several exhibitions both on and off campus. After serving as the president of ImageUnit, the Interdisciplinary Arts department’s student organization, Laura curated a graduate show in Columbia’s C33 gallery, worked as a curator for Chicago Artist Month, and wrote for Chicago Arts Magazine. She encourages future Interdisciplinary Art students to take full advantage of all of the opportunities Chicago has to offer, saying “Chicago is a nurturing place for emerging art, which is one benefit of being in school here.”
As she completes her MFA, Laura hopes to find a position as an adjunct professor and to open an international arts space in Chicago. Her project will be “both an artist collective and an exhibition space that will integrate the international arts scene” in Chicago. Looking back on her time at Columbia, she is glad that she knew what she wanted to get out of the program. “Graduate school is self-directed,” she says. “You need to come in knowing exactly what you want out of it, but your work is going to evolve in ways you could not have imagined.”