Trail Blazer

Casey Devaney '17

Casey Devaney '17 didn't set out to blaze a trail for her fellow studio art majors, but by the time she graduated last May with concentrations in graphic design, painting and photography, several of her peers in the Department of Art and Art History were following her example.

Salve Regina's studio art majors are required to choose a concentration in ceramics, graphic design, illustration, interactive media arts, painting or photography. Many pursue two, but three was uncommon before Devaney came along.

"Casey's willingness to cross traditional concentration boundaries in studio art has made her something of a role model for undergraduates," says Gerry Perrino, Devaney's faculty advisor. "She is indicative of a department-wide emphasis on versatility within our studio art major. We want our students to be as resourceful as possible when they enter the job market."

The concentrations in graphic design and photography were a natural fit for Devaney's interest in product and packaging design. But the prospect of adding a third concentration didn't take shape until her junior year, when Perrino recommended Devaney pursue an advanced painting class for a studio elective.

"She was thrown into what was perhaps the single best painting class that I ever had," Perrino recalls. "Stacked up against four students who were all accepted into graduate school, Casey was totally unintimidated and held her own, doing some great work."

With support from department faculty, Devaney added the painting concentration, allowing her to further integrate drawing and illustration with her graphic design. The work that resulted became the basis for her senior honors thesis, which incorporated elements of illustration, graphic design and branding to create packaging and promotional collateral for a fictional brewery.

"With every start of a new project, I begin with a sketch," Devaney writes in her artist statement. "Drawing has been my passion for years and as my work gets more towards the digital world, I make sure to stick to my roots and hand sketch my ideas out on paper. My love for illustration has been enhanced with the use of a Wacom tablet and the pen tool in Illustrator. This combination allows me to keep the hand-drawn style in my work, but also the accessibility to the fast editing process of the computer."

During her senior year, Devaney debated whether to attend graduate school, but ultimately decided to apply. "I wanted to learn additional skills and feel more confident in the workforce," she says. "I learn better by being shown first rather than trying something for myself, and this is the next step of doing that."

She is now pursuing an MFA in graphic design at Boston University's School of Visual Arts. "Casey's choice of graduate school is one of the top MFA programs in the country for graphics, and it is truly an honor for her to have been chosen to study in that program," Perrino says. "We are excited for her as she embarks on her graduate experience and anticipate great things from her in the future."

Though Devaney is now attending an art school, she has no regrets about choosing a traditional liberal arts institution for her undergraduate experience. "If you attend an art school, you're only getting opinions from art-based thinkers," she says. "I liked that I could go to my friends who had no idea what a package label should even look like and ask their opinions."

Devaney says Salve's art faculty were also crucial to her success. "Having professors that care so much about each student made a huge difference on me," she says, singling out Perrino and the guidance he provided. "He was super flexible with letting me put all three of my concentrations into one class. He lets you do what you feel you can do the best in, and that really helped me build up my confidence."

Read more about this program: Art and Art History