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Alumni Q&A: Holly Coulis, MFA '98

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Holly Coulis

Holly Coulis is a studio artist and a graduate of the MFA program.

How did SMFA help prepare you for the job you have today?

When I was at the SMFA, I was a sculptor. But slowly over the 3 years, I shifted towards painting. I think this happened through the visiting artist program - we had some really great painters visit the school and I was fascinated by what they had to say about their medium. But the painting students in my year and the one following were also very open about discussing painting, and it seemed so interesting and complex. Gradually they won me over! The program was very independent. I think this helped a lot. Being an artist is a pretty self-motivated occupation, and I think it was helpful to be in an environment where you had to push yourself.

What did you enjoy or value most about your SMFA education?

I think I was fortunate to have had a really great group of peers who all encouraged each other. It was a very competitive group, which can be tough at times, but I think in the end was really valuable. There were lots of open, heated discussions about art. It really helped me to solidify and to believe in my own vision, which seems a necessary factor in being an artist. Some of the people I went to school with are still very good friends. I’m very thankful to have met them. The classes at Tufts were really exciting as well. I felt very lucky to have access to those art history and theory classes.

What are you working on in your current role that excites you?

Currently, I’m continuing to explore these abstracted still life paintings - thinking more about shadow, color, shape and paint. I’m hoping to make some shifts in the coming year. I have a show at Cooper Cole in Toronto, and a show at Simon Lee’s Viewing Room, London.