Defying labels & making an imprint

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Studio arts professor Amy Sands discusses depth and contrast in Yareli Ortiz Villarreal’s ballpoint pen drawing assignment in the Introduction to Drawing class during the summer semester. Students were asked to complete 2 pieces: a countour line drawing from a still life using graphite (bottom) and a perspective drawing using a ballpoint pen (top). All assignments were displayed on the wall of the fine arts studio as students took turns offering feedback to their classmates for the final project. Photo by Dominique Hlavac.
Dominique Hlavac

Dominique Hlavac

Dominique Hlavac is the Design Editor of the Metropolitan Student Newspaper.


It all started with paper. My father worked at a paper mill so he used to bring huge rolls of paper home and I used to draw grow­ing up. So I’ve always had a strong love of paper,” said Amy Sands, Metro State’s new asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of Stu­dio Arts.

Sands is just the sec­ond mem­ber of the res­i­dent Stu­dio Arts fac­ulty, join­ing Pro­fes­sor Erica Ras­mussen. Sands was a com­mu­nity fac­ulty mem­ber for eight years. She teaches Intro­duc­tion to Draw­ing (ARTS 106), Inter­me­di­ate Draw­ing (ARTS 306) and Muse­ums and Gal­leries (ARTS 300). She also facil­i­tates the Exhi­bi­tion Prac­tices intern­ship (ARTS 302) in the Gor­don Parks Gallery.

As a com­mu­nity fac­ulty mem­ber, Sands taught a wide array of stu­dio arts classes at other local col­leges includ­ing the Min­neapo­lis Col­lege of Art and Design, St. Cather­ine Uni­ver­sity, Inver Hills Com­mu­nity Col­lege and Macalester College

One of the things that I find com­mend­able is that she has a wide under­stand­ing of the arts and is a ver­sa­tile teacher,” said Pro­fes­sor Erica Rasmussen

As a print­maker, Sands strives to evoke how we expe­ri­ence life through every­day objects. “I’m really inter­ested in how things influ­ence who we are as peo­ple and how that becomes a part of our iden­tity,” she said.

Her art­work has been rec­og­nized nation­ally and inter­na­tion­ally. She was fea­tured in the Tokyo Met­ro­pol­i­tan Art Museum in 2012, and in group exhi­bi­tions across the United States and Europe.

Sands has won numer­ous awards for her unique prints and has a style quite dif­fer­ent from oth­ers. “Many print­mak­ers focus on cre­at­ing edi­tions but I’m more inter­ested in the one of a kind works of art,” she said.

She feels that her work doesn’t fit into any pre­con­ceived notions of artis­tic media. “So often the art field wants to clas­sify you as one label,” Sands said. “I just don’t like labels… I think it’s a lit­tle restrict­ing for me.

Out­side of the stu­dio, she is an avid run­ner who has com­pleted a marathon. “Run­ning is really a great release for me,” Sands said. “I’m also tak­ing up a lit­tle bit of fly fish­ing, so it’s pretty fun, it’s very peace­ful too.

As a three-​quarter time res­i­dent fac­ulty mem­ber, Sands will con­tinue to teach her reg­u­lar classes, but with the added respon­si­bil­i­ties of advis­ing stu­dents, work­ing on com­mit­tees and devel­op­ing cur­ricu­lum. She is cre­at­ing a dig­i­tal arts class to be offered at Metro State in the future.

In addi­tion to these new respon­si­bil­i­ties, Sands will work with other fac­ulty to expand the stu­dio arts pro­gram. “We’ve got a new major, we’ve got a new minor. We’re start­ing to offer a lot more classes so that’s pretty excit­ing for us,” she said.

Sands wants stu­dents to know that stu­dio arts classes are offered off cam­pus too. “There’s the ceram­ics [class] at North­ern Clay Cen­ter or the book arts [class] at Min­nesota Cen­ter for Book Arts. So there’s a lot of excit­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to get out in the com­mu­nity and get involved and see peo­ple work­ing,” she said.

In her classes, she requires stu­dents to under­stand the tech­ni­cal aspects of stu­dio art, but also encour­ages them to develop their own inter­pre­ta­tion and style

She has the expe­ri­ence and the knowl­edge to give to young ones, but the under­stand­ing of art being expres­sive — giv­ing stu­dents a chance to explore and be them­selves in their work,” said Carly Huber, a stu­dent in Sands’ intro­duc­tory draw­ing class this summer.

In addi­tion to gain­ing con­fi­dence in their abil­ity, Sands’ stu­dents also gain a new per­spec­tive. “I cer­tainly have learned that I am much bet­ter at this [draw­ing] than I would have given myself credit for. I’m start­ing to see things in art that I never noticed before,” said Jack Hysell, a Com­puter Sci­ence major

It all started with paper. But it grew into a pas­sion — and now a pro­fes­sor­ship— for Amy Sands. A pas­sion that can be felt in her art­work, in the stu­dio and in the classroom.

Sands encour­ages stu­dents to fol­low her lead, to con­tinue to do what they love despite any doubts. “You never know when an oppor­tu­nity is going to fall into your lap or who’s look­ing at your work. You just have to keep believ­ing in your­self and doing what you want to do,” she said.