“Make things, make ideas, make things you aren't sure about, make mistakes.”

Former Art & Design student and SEMO alum, Joshua Cross, is a firm believer in learning from experience and advocates for students in his field to do the same.

After graduating from SEMO, Joshua went on to get his MFA in Painting at Kansas State University. Drawing inspiration from his SEMO and KSU mentors, he realized he felt a passion for teaching and sharing any knowledge he’s gathered about art over the years.

This inspiration to teach lead Joshua to opportunities where he could teach art and humanities through a high school drop out recovery program as well as art workshops in local prisons. He later decided he wanted to teach at the college level and would go on to help build the art major and run the art gallery at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina.

Find out how SEMO helped develop Joshua’s love for art and prepare him for his future in this field.

What was your major at Southeast and how would you characterize the quality of that program to prospective students?

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.

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.