Featured Students

Featured Student: Rachel Schmidt

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  • Name: Rachel Schmidt
  • Year: Senior
  • Major: Studio Art: Design and Printmaking
  • Hometown: Louisville, KY
  • Quirky Fact: I was in a circus three years in a row.
  • Favorite thing to get (food/drink) on campus: Specials at the food truck
  • Best movie you’ve seen recently: Hidden Figures
  • Favorite movie: Man From Nowhere
  • Best book you’ve read recently: Aesop’s Fables by Jerry Pinkney
  • Favorite book: Hero by Perry Moore
  • What you like to do on campus: walk around looking for pokemon



Tell us about yourself:

I am a fourth year senior with a dual emphasis in graphic design and printmaking. My show, which is coming up in April, is concerned with lessons and universal truths that we learn independently of each other; Individual people will learn the same lesson from two different experiences. I conduct interviews with friends and family members (because I found that it doesn’t work with strangers) and I ask them something that they’ve learned recently. Then I figure out where in my life I learned the same rule and combine the stories together. When you combine two different human stories into one it becomes sort of abstract, so they turn into animal fables. Most of them have to do with birds, I think it’s because most of my friends are young right now and we all just want to move. I write the fables down, then I illustrate them with a print based sculpture installation. The installations range anywhere from rocks with prints pasted to them to hanging sculptures made with teacups that I found at peddler’s mall. The pieces are typically reflective of the person that I interviewed to make the fable, but also the tone of the story. Most of the time, the fables are sad and defeated but sometimes people want to tell me happier things, like how they have learned to calm down once in a while, so the fables turn out more hopeful. In my graphic design classes, I create title posters and then physical hand bound books containing the fables with crazy text features. It’s all coming together now and after three semesters, I’ll finally be able to see what it looks like.

What made you come to Murray State?

I had two sisters graduate from here. One got here in 2006 the other in 2008, one was a math major and the other was geo-archeology. I was dead set on not coming here because they both did, but then I took a tour of the art department and I got to meet the faculty, and I loved it. I knew I always wanted to go to a smaller school; I’m from Louisville and I’m use to big class sizes, so I wanted something more personal. I thought I was going to end up going to Morehead, but then I compared the building here and the programs to Morehead and this one won out by a lot.

Who have you enjoyed working with?

I’d have to say my BFA Committee, it’s Nicole Hand (my printmaking professor) and Jim Bryant (my graphics professor.) I spend a ridicules amount of time in their classrooms. The other member of my BFA committee is Sarah Martin, I only had one class with her but it had such a profound impact on the way that I critique my own work and how I consider craft and big picture integration that I’ve just been talking to her non-stop about my stuff since sophomore year.


Who inspires you in life?

It’s sort of a weird answer, but people who aren’t real, like characters in books and movies. It’s easier to see someone who’s not real achieving a goal because it lays out a pattern, even if the goal is saving the world. Those same skills can be applied to you, just in a smaller scale. It’s really nice to look at, a lot less real.

What made you choose the major you did?

I have always been an artist, I always thought that was who I was going to be. Then I got scared around the 3rd grade, because every adult I was talking to kept telling me that I couldn’t make a living off of art, and I was going to be a starving artist. So I thought I was going to be a wildlife biologist and but in high school I realized that I can’t do chemistry or psychics or anything related to the math and categorization that you need to be a scientist. I still had that back and forth in high school where I wanted to be a scientist and then I wanted to be an artist. It took me until the end of my senior year to figure out that I was kidding myself, I haven’t ever been anything else, and this was the place I was supposed to be. It’s also not as hard to make a living as an artist as it sounds.

Work/projects related to your major?

Everything’s coming together right now into the BFA show. I guess the only outside part of that would be the fable interviews, because the stories are built in a single sitting in a conversation with another person. I’ll start talking and asking the first question and then I’ll stare at the person and I’ll start spit balling what kind of animal the story is about. It usually starts with big sweeping statements, but at the very end either the other person’s will say “that’s sort of incorrect” or they will look at you and say “that big sweeping statement was 100 percent correct.” It makes me feel better to know that I’m not the only one who had to figure these situations out. That is, I think, my favorite part of the interviews.

Like I said, I was going to be a biologist, so animal research and wildlife- that’s always been a part of my work and something I’ve always been interested in. I’ve never been able to integrate it as perfectly into the art side of me as I have with this BFA show and I’m really excited about it.

Recent awards/ honors?

The art department is really big on scholarships so I’ve always had at least one department scholarship all the way through school here, which was pretty nice. I got the art auction scholarship and a couple of other ones. I had work in the student show last year, in addition to a book arts show. I had an internship over the winter break with a letterpress artist in Louisville named Brad Vetter, I learned a whole new printing process from scratch.  I also receive a grant from the Southern Graphics Print Council to attend their international printmaking conference in Atlanta, Georgia last month.

Future plans:

That’s scary. While here I have learned as many skills as I can.  I know how to do laser engraving, woodworking, multiple printmaking processes, sculpture, and design.  I want to be able to choose the job I want and now’s there too many, there are a million things I could do. Now I’m just scared that I’m going to get so caught up in the fact that there are million different things and different places I could go that I’m not going to able to find where I really want to be. But I do know that I want to find something interesting in the art world, and if I’m making art, I’ll be happy.


Rachel is a great student to work with and has the perfect combination of talent and work ethic.  She is high energy and exceeds the expectations of my class and is encouraging to other art majors. I know that she will have a successful career ahead of her.

Nicole Hand-Bryant (Art Professor)



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