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Mayfield visual artists learn what it takes to curate college portfolios

Navigating the college application process is stressful enough. For prospective visual art students it’s even trickier—they face a myriad of portfolio requirements and another layer of deadlines.
To help aspiring Mayfield artists grasp the arts application landscape, the Visual Arts Department hosted representatives from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Parsons in New York and and Cornish College of Art in Seattle.

The panel discussion, moderated by Visual Arts teacher Cassandra Gonzales, was aimed at helping students understand what art school admissions officers look for in portfolios.

“We thought that it would be good for the students to learn early on about art schools so that they can start thinking about what would potentially be a good fit and begin on portfolios by junior year,” said Ms. Gonzales.

Each college spoke about their unique niche. Parson students consider themselves “New Yorkers,” Pratt students enjoy an arts village in an enclosed campus. Cornish students benefit from interacting with performing arts students.

“Girls really need to think about what they want out of a college experience,” said Lynn Maloney, Co-Director of College Counseling. “Do they want art to be the central focus of their education, or do they want to still be able to take a lot of academic courses in science, English, political science, or history?”

The Parsons representative explained that students could minor in another area of fine arts while majoring in illustration, for instance. Mayfield artists learned there are a breadth of options offered at an arts college that might not found at a liberal arts college.

“It could be a really good fit for a lot of our creative Mayfield students,” Ms. Maloney said, adding that the session helped student envision whether they would fit at a particular college.

“It also became very evident that each school has different requirements,” she said. “Students will need to understand what each college wants to learn from them in their application and portfolio.”

The common message on portfolios is that colleges want to see art that shows students' point of view and to see personal statements reflected in their work, Ms. Gonzales said.

Students and parents said they were enlightened to learn about careers in art and design and the portfolio requirements ahead.
“Three wonderful schools spoke in detail and gave my daughter, Olivia, and I a wonderful perspective on art school colleges,” said Elsa Luna-Salazar. “It is great to have a full spectrum of choices for our young ladies...I commend Mayfield for hiring such wonderful teachers who are engaged beyond expectations and excited in the future success of our daughters.”

Olivia Salazar ’21 said she felt she “got a true sense of what the school was all about.” Plus she received some helpful tips.

“Afterwards, they were gracious enough to look over my portfolio,” she said. “I was able to get really good input on what I need to do in order to achieve a good portfolio and go to art school, whether it be those colleges or any other.”
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Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 28 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.