Featured Students

CHFA Featured Student: Emily Harris


  • Name: Emily Harris
  • Year: Senior
  • Major: Art Education with a studio emphasis in Sculpture
  • Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
  • Quirky Fact: I do not like the taste of chocolate.
  • Favorite thing to eat on campus: Sweet potato fries from the T-Room.
  • Best movie you’ve seen recently: I saw The Martian the other day and I thought it was really good. It was very smart and serious but with a comedic flair with a great commentary on global politics.
  • Best book you’ve read recently: I’m a huge fan of C. S. Lewis and my favorite book by him would be The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I really like the allegorical elements of it. Another book I really like is The Giver by Lois Lowry, I’ve read it probably 50 times already and just keep going back to it.


Tell us about yourself and why you came to Murray:

I really love art, reading, education, and working in my studio. I came to Murray in kind of a unique way. I wasn’t intending to come to Murray initially and because of some different situations would up applying to Murray in June, just before move in. I was offered a really nice scholarship package and came on campus and just fell in love with the vibe, the feel, the people and how kind they all were especially at the BCM (Baptist Campus Ministry) where they welcomed me and showed me so much grace and understanding.

Who have you enjoyed working with here at Murray?

Dr. Rebecca Williams, who is the art education professor, Chris Lavery, the sculpture professor, and Dr. Peggy Schrock, who is an art history teacher. I kind of find it hard to pick out specific people from the art department because we have a very relaxed kind of family atmosphere. It’s easy to go in and out of a class, and you may only have that professor for one class but they put everything they have into you while you’re there. For instance, Nicole Hand whom I’ve never had a class with until this semester yet: I found her to be an incredible professor whom I really respect. The art department is a really great place to be and ZB Smetana is a truly fantastic Chair, I’m actually going to Prague with him for a study abroad this summer.

What/Who inspires you in your art and your life?

I’m a Christian and so my faith has a lot to do with who I am and what I do. I also find a lot of inspiration from my students. A lot of my artwork has to do with the education system and how we look at it as well as how it affects us, so I found a lot of inspiration for that from my students. My family has so much to do with who I am as I come from a very tight knit family that is very supportive. My boyfriend Josh has been consistently supportive and he’ll sit in the studio with me for hours, trouble-shooting problems as I lay on the floor trying to figure them out. Dr. Rebecca Williams is really very good at being a sounding board for when I’m working on projects.

What projects related to your major have you done recently?

I recently did a large scale unit plan which I presented at the National Conference for Art Education which was held in Chicago. I presented at the pre-service round tables, as your placement is determined by what stage you are at in your career. It was stimulating and overwhelming at the same time because there are hundreds of thousands of people all doing what you love and doing it well and with so much passion for it.  Dr. Williams was truly invaluable to me, giving me constant feedback on a google doc which we shared in order to modify it. The project wouldn’t be what it is today without her. I wrote my unit plan which is a five-lesson-unit-plan, which analyzes the idea of the bi-product meaning that, what we create when not intending to create it. I drew the inspiration for the unit plan from my own artistic process and that is what I presented at the conference. I wanted to ask the question how can we be authentic educators and authentic artists in our class rooms. My tag line was “authenticity leads to vulnerability.” I used my unit plan as support research for how educators can model curriculum development on their own artistic processes. I talked about how you can use what you are doing in your studio to influence what you are doing in your classroom. To know that what I made is now in the hands of people that can use it is pretty incredible to me. It really was a great experience and I’m so glad I did it.

Emily presents her work in Chicago

What made you choose to be an Art Education Major?

I did not actually come to Murray with the intention of being an art major. I actually had never taken a formal art course until college.  I had always done art but more as a hyper private sort of thing which I would use to sort through my problems and it never really occurred to me to show them to anyone or pursue it as a career. I actually wound up changing my major four times here at Murray and dabbled in a lot of things. I fell in love with art through a different route than some, I fell in love with art history first and went on from there. I just needed an elective and took the “Honors Intro to Visual Arts” course taught by Lindsey Maestri who is a sculptor. She had so much passion for what she did and it really drew me in. It was in that class that I really began making art again and truly realized that it was what I was meant to do. Later that semester, I went on a missions trip to Colorado with the BCM and taught arts and crafts to the kids. It was in teaching those kids how to use their hands and imaginations to create, which made me realize that this was the most fulfilled I had ever felt and that this was truly what I was meant to do. I came back, changed my major and never looked back.

Emily’s work – Found Objects

Work related to your major?

I work for Dr. Williams as a student worker helping her do whatever needs to be done. I keep the studio in shape and organize things. When the high school show came through, the KYAEA regional show, I helped her to make the program and other such things. I’m also a staff photographer for the Murray State News and as an education major we do a lot of practical practicum where we teach students at the local schools.

Art students in Chicago


About Emily, Rebecca Williams writes, “Emily continually goes above and beyond what is expected because she loves learning and is driven to grow as an artist, researcher, and teacher. Throughout the Fall of 2015, she committed herself to deeply processing the material we were covering in the course ART 342 and she actively applied it to her growing identity as an artist educator. This led Emily to developing her final assignment, which was a five lesson long segment of secondary art curriculum, around drawing students into her own art making process. The overarching aim of this curriculum was to find a way for a high school art educator to continue their own art making practice and to invite students into authentic art making experiences. “

Click here to read more about our Art Education program.



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