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Exploring Art as a Non-Art Major

As a studio art minor at MHC, I always encourage my friends and peers to take at least one art class for fun before they graduate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the excuse “I’m not an artistic person, though” (whatever that means). What other time in your life will you get the opportunity to take an art class? Why not have fun, embrace the challenge, and explore your creative side? I also think that for anyone who isn’t an “art person,” coincidentally enough, Mount Holyoke is the perfect place to explore.

Mount Holyoke College Art Museum


At this college we have one of a kind classes like Japanese and Western Papermaking which are both taught by Rie Hachiyanagi. Bet you didn’t know that Mount Holyoke College even has its own Papermaking studio! (it’s the building next to the Gorse parking lot that everyone ignores). This is a very important class to MHC because in it’s prime, the city of Holyoke was the largest exporter/producer of paper in the United States before the process was industrialized. Take a second glance at all those abandoned buildings in Holyoke–most of them were paper factories. I haven’t looked at Holyoke the same way since I learned how to make handmade paper in Rie’s class. If you’re a chemistry major interested in the process of paper conservation or a history major interested in learning about the evolution of papermaking from Papyrus to Washi, this class will be a blast for you. Mount Holyoke, of course, also has more traditional art classes like sculpture, photography, costume design, and if those don’t interest you, Hampshire is where it’s at. That’s the beauty of the 5 College consortium. You definitely will not be disappointed by all the choices.

American Writing Paper Co. in Holyoke, Massachusetts


Even if you don’t have space in your schedule to register for an art class, explore on your own! Northampton has the best art supply stores. They have a huge range of materials that are of better quality than michels or joanns. Check out this video made by Smith College, where they feature stores in Northampton, including Guild, one of my favorite art stores.

If you don’t know what to buy or where to start, I recommend getting a good sketchbook, calligraphy pens, and watercolors: A sketchbook because it’s always good to use art-grade paper. It preserves your art well and produces better quality work even if you’re just using a regular pencil. Watercolor because it’s great for experimenting with color and introduces you to paint as a medium. Calligraphy pens because they’re multifunctional. You can use them for drawing, writing, and designing. They serve as pens or can be used with watercolor paint (sounds fake but it’s true, I promise).

For more guidance, you can also visit the Makerspace in the Art building (top floor of the art museum) and participate in a workshop of any kind. In case you didn’t know, the Makerspace is for everyone on campus, not just “art people.” There’s a laser machine, a 3D printer, sewing machines, and literally so much more! Have fun exploring and I hope you take advantage of all there is to offer here.


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Kalea Martin

Mt Holyoke '19

Buongiorno! I'm Kalea. I love dogs, ice hockey, and breakfast. My skills include giving hugs and singing Les Mis in the shower.
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