Art, communication students come together to ‘make dreams happen’

Natalie Novak wants her pottery to be the flatware in a Nashville farm-to-table restaurant.

Jonathan Elakman is planning an installation of colored glass for Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

Andrew Patterson’s wood furniture will help an interior design company create unique spaces.

Jonathan Carpenter can create the characters and environments to make someone else’s stories come to life.

These four art students, with help from other students in a professional communication class, recently pitched their dreams for their work to a panel of judges instead of taking a traditional final at Tennessee Tech University. The project teamed students in Kimberly Winkle’s professional practices for the artist class and others from Amy Jo Carpenter’s professional communications class.

Though the winners received awards, the intention of the competition was not to receive the highest grade or an award.

“The objective is not to pick whose is best. We wanted you to think about branding, about audiences, why you need to have a brand,” said Amy Jo Carpenter. “This is about learning to work with other students who are not the same as you and how to communicate and work as a team and be exposed to the creative process.”

The 40 students from each of the classes met for the first time at TTU’s Appalachian Center for Craft just after spring break, where they began to get to know each other, brainstorm about audiences and markets and think about what makes art unique.

In the past, business and engineering students have partnered on plans to bring original designs to market. This is the first time art students have worked with communication students to do the same.

Art students are regularly introduced to the professional art world through studio tours, conversations with artists and student-designed exhibitions. However, those lessons have rarely been interdisciplinary.

This semester’s collaboration was sponsored by TTU’s quality enhancement plan, which awards grants to faculty members with new ideas to enhance students’ experiences in and out of the classroom.

The funding for this collaboration was used to allow the students to create marketing materials, including business cards, fliers, brochures and, in one case, a time-lapse video.

“I found this love of making things spontaneously. It’s now been five years and I’m not sick of it yet. I’m absolutely in love with it,” said Natalie Novak, a senior art major from Cottontown. “I’m now at the point where I want to take my career to the next level and begin my professional journey.”

During the final presentations, the seven teams addressed a panel of judges: Bharat Soni, TTU vice president for research and economic development; Holly Wallace, of First Tennessee Bank; Jennifer Shank, interim dean of TTU’s College of Education and Jon Bell, director of Cookeville Regional Medical Center Foundation.

The panel selected a group to win first, second and third place. Others in the audience were allowed to vote on a “people’s choice” award.

“It was super exciting to see these students stand up and articulate their plans,” Winkle said. “You never know when you may meet someone who can make dreams happen.”