Since its launch in 2015, the Studio Arts Intensive (SAI) has graduated over 40 students. You might be familiar with the program, as it was the main focus of my conversation with SAI Director Olivia Beaufait in a previous Executive Director letter. Today, I want to introduce you to three SAI alumni: Amanda Reeves (work shown below: middle), who enrolled in the SAI program shortly after her undergraduate studies during an important juncture in her life; Fiona Lau (work shown below: top), who decided to leave her professional career in a different field to pursue her long-time interest in art; and David Sun (work shown below: bottom), who also felt ready to take a break from his professional career to pursue his passion.





Here is what our recent SAI graduates have to share:
Stefano Catalani: Why did you apply for the Studio Arts Intensive program at Gage Academy of Art?
Fiona Lau: in 2015, I was transitioning from another career to a full-time art practice. Although I had been drawing for a while, I didn’t have a lot of formal training in other areas and I was looking for a program that would provide a broad exposure to different artistic disciplines. The variety of media and approaches SAI offered was the perfect thing at the perfect time.
David Sun: I applied to SAI with the intent of building fundamental skills in drawing and painting. What was attractive for me was that the program combines multiple classes and mediums that would be otherwise difficult to find as separate classes and schedule together.
Amanda Reeves: I was considering a career in the arts and wanted a program that was affordable, concise, and would enable me to seriously dabble in a variety of mediums. I was curious about leaning into my love of art, but craved some space and structure to explore that passion, before committing to a BFA or MFA program.
SC: Why was SAI a good fit for your goals and schedule?
David Sun: Well, the part-time schedule allowed me to balance classes with work and family life.
Amanda Reeves: Everywhere else I looked was either a full program (BFA/MFA), too specific, or too far away. SAI’s consolidated schedule allowed me to work part-time, which was necessary. The program’s content was exactly suited for my goals: learn as much as I could and see what would come of dedicating 6+ hours a day to making art. By the end of the program, my goals had changed to an interest in arts administration and curatorial work. But even then, the mentorship by instructor Klara Glosova was really pivotal in helping me consider arts administration and curatorial work as an avenue for my passion.
Fiona Lau: The program was a great fit for me since I wanted to get exposure to practices outside of drawing and painting, like digital art and sculpture. And like Amanda said, the professional development component of the SAI was equally important: the different perspectives on art from working artists to curators had a lasting impact on how I approach my practice.
SC: How did SAI help you prepare for the next phase of your artistic career?
Fiona Lau: Well, the first part was improving the quality of my work: I was able to push my technical skills in studio classes taught by teaching artists who are not only wonderful artists themselves but also great teachers. The second part was to become informed on current practices in the art community. Our regular visits to artist studios and gallerists in Seattle were very important in helping me put my practice in the contemporary context.
David Sun: SAI was my first introduction to oil paint so I learned a great deal very quickly. I was very grateful to see multiple instructors approach to the medium. Kimberly Trowbridge was one of these instructors, making transitioning into her Modernist Atelier all the more appealing.
Amanda Reeves: I would say that the SAI program introduced me to a number of curators, gallery-owners, and artists, setting up my horizons for life post-SAI.
SC: What are you doing now after you graduated from the SAI program?
Fiona Lau: I have been maintaining my full-time artistic practice and continuing learning through classes at Gage. And I am excited to share that will be having a solo exhibition at the Auburn City Hall this summer. I am still in touch with some of the SAI instructors who are incredibly generous with their mentorship and friendship.
David Sun: I am currently enrolled in the Trowbridge Atelier at Gage Georgetown!Amanda Reeves: I am the Development Coordinator at Kirkland Arts Center. As part of a small team, I get to support educational and exhibition programs whilst learning the ins and outs of operating an arts non-profit. I should also add that I had the chance to intern in the Curatorial Department at the Seattle Art Museum working on the Betty Bowen award, immediately following the SAI program. This was a helpful step in testing out the arts admin and curatorial waters. 
SC: What were your favorite components of the SAI program? 

Amanda Reeves: I really relished it all, but the Professional Development with instructor Klara Glosova (field trips, conversations, two weeks of mentored studio time) was a favorite. Class-wise, I really loved the painting classes with Kimberly Trowbridge and Margie Livingston. It was a great push for me to see color relationships, temperature, and subtleties. 

Fiona Lau: The variety of media taught in the program was very important to me. Our teachers had diverse approaches and areas of interest, and that was also very important. The professional development put my work into context. All of these are essential to further any artist’s practice.
David Sun
: For me, SAI was like an arts bootcamp. I got exposed to many different mediums; worked with and was taught by incredibly talented local artists; and practiced in the company of peers who all had a surprisingly similar attraction and need for the visual arts in their lives. It is truly a unique experience and one I will always be grateful for.

I remember sitting in an information session for Studio Arts Intensive and being unsure and overwhelmed. I was not sure if I would be qualified for the program, let alone an Atelier program. I remember seeing student works, and walking through the halls of Gage on Capitol Hill and always being impressed by the quality of work and wondering if I would ever be capable of such a thing. I never would have imagined I would be where I am today. SAI opened that door and was really my catalyst. I just want to make sure I express how grateful I am for the program Olivia Beaufait helped create, and Gage for providing all these opportunities. For lack of better words, it has been a really big deal for me, thank you.

Studio Arts Intensive is a unique and innovative program combining a broad range of studio courses with professional development and cohort activities offsite designed to introduce and connect our students with the local art community. Students of all ages have the opportunity to develop a comprehensive portfolio in drawing, painting, sculpture, and printmaking for admission into a university, Gage Atelier, or to bridge their pursuit in the visual arts into a full time career.

Stefano Catalani

More about Studio Arts Intensive

To learn more, contact Olivia: 206.323.4243 or