Karl Larocca ’95 never dreamed that his studio art degree would lead to a career designing textiles for Elton John or posters for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and other indie rock bands. Yet a little more than a decade after graduation, he is operating a successful design and screen-printing company in New York.
“Students and parents often ask, ‘How does one survive in the real world as a studio art major?’” says John Pearson, Young-Hunter Professor of Art, who organized a lecture series in March showcasing four alumni who have forged lucrative career paths in the commercial art world.
“There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” he says. “I wanted to show students the complexity and diversity of opportunities out there.” The series marked the first time the studio art program has brought back alumni visiting artists and those working in the applied arts.
Larocca studied silkscreening with Pearson at Oberlin and worked at a fabric workshop in Philadelphia after graduation. He later moved to New York and started creating websites, but it wasn’t long before he was designing t-shirts, posters, and record covers for bands. The work snowballed until LaRocca opened his own company, Kayrock Screen-printing, in Brooklyn.
Steve Buchanan ’71 took another route into the art world—he graduated from the Conservatory and earned a doctorate in music at the University of Texas. After years as a college professor and concert pianist, he began studying art at the Hartford Art School. His illustrations have since appeared on several U.S. postage stamps and elsewhere.
Rita Buchanan ’71 drew on her interest in plants and textiles to become an independent garden designer. Her gardens, weavings, and writings have received national recognition, and she has contributed to many books and articles on plants, gardening, landscaping, and fiber crafts. She frequently travels the country giving workshops.
Corinne Sandone ’82, who combined her longtime loves of studio art and biology, earned a master’s degree in medical and biological illustration. For 20 years, she has created illustrations for surgical atlases and other medical publications, and she now teaches medical illustration at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Pearson, who secured funding for the series from an anonymous donor, says it’s important to show students an array of careers that are both financially viable and artistically challenging—and all founded on an Oberlin education. “Most Oberlin students don’t just do one thing, they do a lot,” he says.
Sandone sums it up: “Oberlin is great at teaching people how to think, and that can be applied to many different fields and careers.”
Alumni sports events were all the rage this winter, prompting several dozen former Yeopeople to return to campus for reunions and alumni games.
Playing in the annual women’s basketball alumni game in February were Cristina Briboneria ’05, Nicole Burford ’05, Kelly Gobrogge ’91, Becky Kanuch ’02, Keymasha Knight ’00, Amber Mortley ’04, Margaret Reitz ’06, Malisha Richardson ’03, Sonja Spencer ’03, Colette Thayer ’91, Laura Wallerstein ’03, Nancy Boutilier, rhetoric and composition instructor, and Coach Christa Champion.
Returning for the men’s alumni game were Ben Alschuler ’04, Jason Carrington ’02, Alonzo Crowder ’03, Dewayne Evans ’05, Julius Hill ’04, Jordan Kaltman ’01, James Knight ’01, Cameron Leverette ’06, Zach Pretzer ’03, Steve Reid ’05, Adrian Schaffer ’87, George Smith ’87, Glenn Thomas ’88, and Steffon Thomas ’03.
The second annual Hockey Club game, held in March, saw the return of Tom Bokuniewicz ’80, Chris Browning ’67, Bruce Campbell ’66, Robert Coppersmith ’73, John Fisch ’80, Rob Grabill ’73, Matt Green ’80, Murray Heaton ’73, Alan Heavenrich ’77, Ted Heavenrich ’74, Cortland Hill ’77, William Johnston ’77, Rob Moffat ’02, Mark Walsh ’77, and Louis Wiegele ’73.