Core art course changes student's perspective

English major-turned-artist Tara Spencer discovered her passion for painting through liberal arts core course

If you asked recent TWU School of Arts, Media, and Culture Art + Design graduate Tara Spencer (’14) where her post-secondary education was headed four years ago, you’d find out it didn’t go exactly as she’d planned. For her, it went even better.

“I enrolled at Trinity Western as an English major,” Spencer said. “I planned to get a four-year degree, then get a Master of Architecture, because I wanted to do something creative.”

In fact, Spencer never considered pursuing an art degree. “I thought it was something that you either had, or you didn’t,” she said. But, after her first painting class with SAMC professor Doris Auxier, part of the liberal arts core curriculum at TWU, her perspective changed completely. “I was amazed at how far I came just over the course of one semester,” said Spencer. “I realized it was something worth pursuing, and that would make a difference.”

Spencer had a similar experience with philosophy—another liberal arts core class—which she graduated with a minor in. She appreciated TWU’s Christian perspective when it came to tackling some of the difficult topics that arise in art and philosophy. “There are a lot of hard questions that Christians can find tough to grapple with,” she said. “Trinity Western has encouraged us to press into those issues, not be afraid of them, and talk about them openly.”

Auxier, Spencer’s first painting professor, saw potential in her almost immediately. “She could make paint speak,” she said, “and that’s something that doesn’t usually happen until the very upper classes.” Spencer is not only a naturally gifted artist, Auxier said, but she brings all the other courses that she’s taking into the content of her work. “That gives it a gravity, and a real interest.”

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