portrait of Joshua Cross

Joshua Cross

Associate Professor of Art & Gallery Director at Pfeiffer University

osh.cross@gmail.com

Majored in 2D Art

Graduated in 1998


Explain your career path

After graduating SEMO I went on to an MFA in Painting at Kansas State University. The mentors I had at SEMO and KSU inspired me to teach and share any knowledge I had about art. This brought me to Kansas City, KS and a non profit organization called 500 Reach where I taught art and humanities through high school drop out recovery as well as art workshops in local prisons. I knew I wanted to teach on the college level and in 2005 I was hired to build the art major and run the art gallery at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina.

What was your major at Southeast and what led you to that?

2D Art
When I started at SEMO I didn't want to be in college at all. I was not a fan of school growing up. I was 5 hours late for my orientation. I thought I wanted to be a high school history teacher but didn't really click with history classes so I tried a couple art classes because I always liked drawing. I was hooked. At first I thought I wanted to be a graphic designer but I didn't own a computer at the time. Not too many times have I been as scared as when I went to my parents and told them I wanted to major in art. Their answer: "Well we figured you would eventually". I had a couple of art professors that latched on to me and encouraged me to think...that is all it took. I had found my place.

Why did you choose to attend Southeast?

It was as simple as proximity. I grew up in Cape. I could see Academic Hall from our kitchen window. It was my hometown school and I liked that part of things.

Who influenced you most during your time at Southeast?

Ron Clayton taught me that art did not have to be about "pretty pictures". Louise Bodenheimer showed me you better know how to do things more than one way. Lane Fabrick taught me that anything goes when it comes to art. Sam Bishop taught me that the art world and the world are one and the same. Grant Lund showed me that you can be a scholar and an artist at the same time. Ed Smith made me realize the power of art in the community.

Share your best college memory.

My first drawing class involved quite a bit of language that I had not heard before. I had art classes in high school but it was not formal. This was formal. Gesture, Blind Contour, Cross-Contour Modeling....all Greek to me. I was a bit intimidated by all the art majors walking around with their portfolios and tackle boxes full of art supplies so instead of asking questions in class (at first) I would run to the library during breaks for the class and look up things I didn't understand. I'd see a gesture drawing and think...I can do that. Then go back and do it as best I could. It gave me energy. That's the type of energy that helps you become better.

What is the most important thing you learned while you were at Southeast?

Be curious. Don't just go to class and warm a seat. Be curious about what it is you are learning in your classes. Be engaged. Ask questions. Seemed like all my professors (art or not) encouraged that and that made it fun.

Describe Southeast in three words.

Everywhere from here

What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

Award winner for the 2018 "America, Now" Juried Art Exhibition in Providence, Rhode Island

How did your education at Southeast prepare you for what you are doing today?

Everything I learned at Southeast laid the groundwork - and lit the fire - for my career in art. Southeast nurtured me - just a kid who liked to draw - to the larger point that I could share my works with others in national and international shows, and to teach others that they can create something larger, too.

What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?

Make. Simple as that. Make things, make ideas, make things you aren't sure about, make mistakes. Just make. From all that you will start to make YOUR work.

What do you wish you had known before graduating and entering the "real world"?

That there are multiple ways to the job/career you want and sometimes that is not always a straight line. And that is OK.

Contact

(573) 651-2210
tmessmer@semo.edu
River Campus Seminary 306

Holland College of Arts and Media
One University Plaza, MS 7895
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701