Steven Fox ’77 helps Oles explore New York art world and beyond
Many Oles (70 percent of those who study off campus) participate in Interim programs. While these month-long programs each January are easier for Oles with on-campus commitments to work into their academic schedules, on average Interim programs are more expensive than semester programs. The Steven Fox ’77 International Studies Fund, established as part of St. Olaf’s For the Hill and Beyond comprehensive campaign, helps Oles participate in both.
At some point, an arts career can seem focused on one question: Do I have what it takes? Yet, as Oles found, there are many ways to work it out.
New York Art Interim provides Oles an in-depth look at diverse paths creative professionals have taken to establish successful careers in New York City. Working from a home base in SoHo, Oles visit more than 80 galleries and museums, and 26 artist studios, to connect and learn from practitioners — including alumni — in varied media, roles, and life stages.
“It was overwhelming at first,” says David Morrison ’19, a studio art major. “But seeing all the art and the artists earning a living at different phases — it was very real. It was important to see.”
St. Olaf Professor of Art and Art History John Saurer tailors the visits for students’ interests. Peter Eide ’93, a New York artist for nearly 20 years, provides extensive support to make contacts and help shape the program.
“People envision artists work alone,” says Saurer. “New York is a great example of how artists actually create opportunities for each other, and how connections are important.”
Brenda Berkman ’73 often connects with Oles in the class. A visual artist, she served New York City for 25 years as its first female firefighter, rising to captain, and was among those first responding on 9/11.
“New York has a lot of distractions,” says Berkman. “But seeing people succeed at very different things is inspiring. Really it’s about working hard — you just have to persist.”
Many Oles on the New York Art Interim last year were supported by the Steven Fox ’77 International Studies Fund, established by Steven Fox to increase access to international and off-campus study programs. Last year the fund benefitted 45 Oles; this number will grow to 150 as the fund builds.
Steven Fox ’77No one system of meaning had a monopoly on truth — that was freeing. It changed my whole perspective. Often our culture swings to fear others. International and off-campus study is really an opportunity to embrace difference.
Growing up in Wisconsin, Fox rarely met someone with a background different from his own. At St. Olaf, international study changed his world. An Interim, Theater in London, was his first time outside the U.S. Then there was Term in the Middle East.
“It was amazing,” he says. “Everyone was gearing up for the U.S. Bicentennial — but in Jerusalem, 200 years was a drop in the bucket. A professor from Hebrew University lectured on Judaism in the morning, and a professor from Birzeit University taught Islam in the afternoon. No one system of meaning had a monopoly on truth — that was freeing. It changed my whole perspective.”
“Often our culture swings to fear others,” he says. “International and off-campus study is really an opportunity to embrace difference.”