By Sara Humphries
When art adjunct professor Ashley Calicchia was a student completing her master’s degree thesis, she searched for an emotional depth that came from a place of individuality. She now applies this concept as she teaches Reinhardt’s up and coming artists.
As a graduate from Reinhardt University, Calicchia knows first-hand the kind of individual interaction Reinhardt’s courses offers its students. Her work during her graduate program now applies to the way she teachers her own art courses.
"The premise of my thesis was based on the functions of art therapy and applied to the concept of absurdism. In my own artwork, I sought a subliminal escape, where emotional depth came from a place of individuality, rather than the narrative of the masses,” said Calicchia. “I apply this in each one of my classes by encouraging students to pursue topics and create visuals based on their own ideologies and personal interests. While students are expected to follow general directions and requirements, their final work should reflect their personal objectives."
Calicchia teaches students with a wide variety of art backgrounds and works to serve each one of them by encouraging individual thought, opinion and artwork.
“I teach students with vastly different backgrounds in art. Some have established professional careers with minimal formal studies, some have natural talent, some are novices and others are only taking classes for general education requirements. When students leave my class, I want them to have learned to focus on their own abilities and accomplishments, rather than compare themselves to their peers. "
In her career as an artist and professor, she constantly finds ways to learn something new and improve her courses.
“My pursuit of knowledge never ends. I am constantly researching, evaluating, and discovering new ways to improve my curriculum.”
Calicchia had numerous mentors throughout her life, especially the faculty turned colleagues at Reinhardt. Her mentors really helped her to develop her career.
“I have had numerous mentors throughout my life, and I owe each one gratitude for my success. However, professors Brett Mullinix, Jym Davis, and Graham Johnson, were all truly instrumental in my developed career.”
In addition to her role as an adjunct professor, Calicchia works part-time as a freelance graphic designer. She enjoys photography, reading, listening to music and making art. This October, she began working on her latest collection of artworks entitled "Outsider." This body of work's theme is loosely based on the aesthetics from "Vampire: The Masquerade" and the "World of Darkness" universe. She is hoping to exhibit the work in early 2021.
When Calicchia attended Reinhardt, she involved herself in as many seasonal campus activities that she could, since Halloween is her favorite holiday. Her favorite activity was the annual community haunted house in Robert's Residence Hall. The students would choose a theme, cover the walls in black paper, make costumes, paint props and then they would do their best to terrify anyone who entered the haunted house.
"During my second year involved, the theme was an asylum, and my role was to play a crazed pyromaniac. Equipped with a pile of lighters and matches, I scared many small children and a few adults. Don't worry, nothing caught fire! However, a dead earthworm found itself hot glued to a fire alarm...those quirky art kids."