McMillen Assistantships Support Student Artists

Designed for student artists majoring in digital design, photography, and studio art, the Robert B. McMillen Foundation grant supports paid assistantships for students to work with professional artists.

“The McMillen program wants to eradicate the idea of the starving artist,” said Professor Naomi Hume, chair of the Department of Art and Art History. “The grant supports college students who have ambitions to be professional artists but might not know how to start and not have enough contacts. We want to show them what happens behind the scenes at an artist’s studio.”

For visual artist Victoria Haven, the program couldn’t have come at a better time. Immersed in three projects, she was paired with Elliot Bosveld, a visual art and math major. Bosveld was invaluable in helping implement multimedia projects for the Portland Art Museum and Seattle’s Frye Art Museum as well as a large wall mural for Seattle Art Museum.

For the Frye exhibit, Bosveld and Haven worked for months on a video that required editing 500,000 still photographs down to 300,000 and creating a timelapse video.

“I couldn’t be there to witness the dry run of the project,” Haven said. “Elliot went to the Frye, and there was a glitch. The video wasn’t projecting properly. He worked with the tech guy to make sure it was all put back together before the opening, all within 6 hours. He was my proxy, and I really appreciated that.”

For “Subtitles," an exhibit at the Portland Art Museum, Haven relied on Bosveld to use his math skills to create an algorithm that required manipulating random words from text messages. Bosveld also worked with the museum's tech staff to implement her vision.

“It was a new experience for Vic, working with projections so much and new monitors,” Bosveld said, “I did a lot of research into what kinds of monitors to ask for based on what the funding would allow and how to tailor our program to the monitors we would get. I got to work with their tech guides, how they were going to mount the monitors, their specs for the monitors, how they were going to construct walls. The opening was fun, getting to see everyone standing around the piece and see how well received it was.”

“Blue Sun,” a 60 x 14 foot wall mural in the pavilion at Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park, commissioned by Seattle Art Museum, opened in the spring of 2016.

“This project was inspired by noticing certain transformations occurring in my neighborhood where my studio is,” Haven said, “as well as the phenomenological experience of living in Seattle being surrounded by mountain ranges.”

“I signed my life away to work on the project in the sculpture park,” Bosveld said. “It was so monumental, and tens of thousands of people see it. It was cool to work on such a large scale project.”

“We are grateful not only to the McMillen Foundation but also to the Seattle visual arts community who support the studio assistantship program with their time and commitment to mentoring the next generation of professional artists,” Hume said.

Watch the video:

Published September 2016.