Work by Emma Williams on display in the Waldemar A. Schmidt Art Gallery.
Work by Emma Williams on display in the Waldemar A. Schmidt Art Gallery.

Traveling to Italy expanded my worldview

By Alexa Ganzeveld ’22

During her college search, Emma Williams ’21 knew she wanted a school that would push her to become a better artist and person. Williams was originally planning to attend a college out of state, but after visiting Wartburg and seeing all the opportunities that the college has available, she changed her mind.

“From the moment I stepped on campus I already had an incredible support system, and that was huge for me. To be able to get to where I am now as I’m looking at what life looks like afterward, I know that support system will still last even after graduation and May,” Williams said.

Williams has wanted to pursue graphic design since her freshman year of high school after opening Adobe Photoshop for the first time. At Wartburg, where she is the 2021 Outstanding Senior in graphic design, she has been able to create a combination of majors and minors based on her interests.

“The one thing that has remained constant was graphic design, and then I had to find my major and minor combination of what other things I wanted to explore,” Williams said. “It took me until my sophomore year to figure my perfect fit of graphic design and art majors with leadership and public relations minors as well.”

Wartburg’s art department offers a variety of academic and studio courses in traditional and technology-based media. As a double major, Williams has grown her skills in both fields.

“My favorite art class has been printmaking. There’s something cool and appealing to me about working with hands on materials, while still being able to incorporate my graphic design skills,” she said. “My favorite class in the design curriculum is advanced design projects. It really focuses on branding, and that is my bread and butter. I absolutely love branding, and it’s been fun to be creative and refine my skills.”

Emma Williams

During her second year, Williams studied abroad in Italy and took Advanced Drawing and Painting. This abroad course explores the urban environments of Rome and Florence, visible in the art and architecture of churches, piazzas, and museums with immersion in Italian culture.

“Traveling to Italy expanded my worldview, and with that expansion, it has helped me push my artwork further and to think about the social impact that we can have as artists and designers. At the end of the day, we are communicating something through our visual work, and so being cognizant of what we’re communicating is important,” Williams said.

At Wartburg, graphic design and studio art seniors take the course Seminar in Art, where students gain practical experience in portfolio and exhibit development by creating a project that ties to their interests and art style of their choosing.

“I’m doing a commentary on sexist and gendered remarks that women often experience, and it’s an intersection between feminist art, but also social impact with different intentional visuals regarding some of the statements that are being utilized,” Williams said.

The project combines portraits of Williams and other women who volunteered to be photographed. The photos were turned into a collage with intentional visuals of sexist comments that women experience.

“My hope for the project is to unite women who have had these experiences and to create a healing moment but also to bring some attention to it for the people who haven’t experienced it. And maybe, for those people who have said those comments, it will make them think a little bit more about the impact that our words have,” Williams said.

On campus, Williams has been involved in Student Senate (she’s currently the student body vice president), Wartburg TEDx, Homecoming Committee, Dance Marathon, Wartburg Ambassadors, Orientation Staff, and as a student employee in the college’s Marketing and Communication Office.

“My advice to art students is to not get into a rush to be the best designer that you can absolutely be right away because even some of the best designers still have a long way to go and are still developing in their own artistic style. Take your time and enjoy what you’re creating in the moment and don’t get ahead of yourself,” Williams said.

After graduation, Williams plans to work as a lead graphic designer and content specialist for Hello Media, a boutique social media agency based out of Rochester, Minnesota, where she interned during the summer of 2020.

“Wartburg has helped me succeed by giving me the opportunities to get involved and meet new people. The professors and faculty at Wartburg don’t hesitate to push me and that’s had a huge impact on my success in the classroom and as I transition into the workforce,” Williams said.