Alumna Spotlight: Anastasia Cyr

By Ashley Mott

The world of art comes with lots of occupational hazards from sliced hands, green hands, ruined clothing and so much more. However, that rarely stops those who are passionate about it from pursuing their degree. This is the case with recent Fall 2018 graduate Anastasia Cyr, a studio art major who has had her fair share of mishaps on her road to success.

“One time, I was at home, and I got my hair caught in the spinning carver. I spent like three hours trying to get it out, and by the time I did, it was almost melted,” Cyr recalled with a laugh.

Her journey through the Cleveland State University art program had been a long four years. However, she didn’t regret her decision, despite mishaps and the potential for backlash that comes with pursuing a fine arts degree.

“I know there’s this stigma with art students, you know [the one where] you’re not going to get any money when you graduate. You know this ‘starving artist’ [idea],” Cyr said.

The stigma behind her choice, was never something that she had to worry about when it came to family. According to her, they have always been supportive and knew that she would someday get a degree in an art field, due to her childhood interest in drawing and painting.

With their support, the search for an art school began, and Cyr landed on Cleveland State. However, the university isn’t known for their art program, which causes some intrigue as to why an artist who is as talented as Cyr ended up in the middle of this downtown campus. It’s a question that Cyr quickly clears up with a response that many can relate to.

“I was thinking about ClA, but I heard that it was competitive [in] nature and I was more about ‘I want to be social and have friends.’ [Cleveland State] might not have the biggest art department, but at least it’s not toxic competition all the time,” Cyr explained. “I just really wanted to focus on developing my art without have to worry what other people think about it. I’m a little too sensitive for that.”

Cleveland State’s art department has an atmosphere that, according to Cyr, has fostered her art and encouraged her. Art professors Irina Koukhanova and George Mauserberger were two guiding lights in Cyr’s journey as a student.

They encouraged her to do work outside of class, wrote letters of recommendation, took active roles in her student shows and even showed up to award ceremonies when she needed a faculty representative.

Two of those award ceremonies were for the Merit Scholarship award, which Cyr was a recipient of for two years, and the Outstanding Scholar award that Cyr received upon her graduation.

Now, freshly out of college, it is time for Cyr to work on her art and push herself to create illustrations that she loves. Entering local exhibitions, working on commissions and creating a YouTube channel strictly about illustrations are just a few ways that Cyr has been trying to push herself to a new level of creativity.

“I’ve been focusing on illustration because I want to illustrate children’s books,” Cyr said. “I’m using [my] time to make a lot of art to go towards that, because when I have a full-time job and full-time school, it’s like there’s no time to make a book.”

Her focus is largely attributed to the goals that she has set for herself since she’s been away from the stresses of the syllabi that all Cleveland State students can attest to. Organization and deadlines are something that she has realized are necessary to be successful and would hope that future art graduates realize too.

“Don’t stop setting deadlines for yourself. It’s really easy to be ‘Oh, I’m done with school. I don’t have to get anything done by a certain time.’ You can fall back into the habit of not making art and not pursuing it. You really have to be your own boss and be like ‘Hey, you need to get this done because you’re not doing anything,’” Cyr reflected.

Her art has taken on many mediums throughout school and her time since graduation. From watercolor to wood work and even cupcakes, Cyr continues to pursue her passion in art one day at a time. Proving that, if you work hard enough, anything is possible, even in a world that is continuously telling you no.


Originally Published on The Cauldron.

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