Catch up with Southern Art Alumni

Melissa Nunez – General Assignment Reporter

Lauren Hoegemann

The next chapter in life is daunting to many college graduates. Lauren Hoegemann, sculpting alumni with a minor in theater, said her experience as a university assistant in the sculpting classroom inspired her to choose a field where she would not have to compromise her passion for art, while still being able to make a living. While she may not be building a family at the moment, Hoegemann said teaching would give her the freedom to do so in the future while allowing her to continue training students in an art form she adores.

“I may not be able to weld eight months pregnant, but I can certainly teach a classroom full of students,” said Hoegemann. “One thing about working that has been heavily reinforced, I love teaching. I love feeling like I’m playing a part in that ‘aha’ moment a student has.”

Hoegemann said teaching is where her love for sculpting and helping students can meld into a truly fulfilling career and is currently in the process of applying for Southern’s art education certification program.

Hoegemann added, after the hurried deadlines of art academia, she longed for the days where she could sculpt creatively without time constraints. Since graduation, Hoegemann has also been sculpting and selling mystical items such as wands and unicorn horns.

“I make wands [and] magical items, I started as I graduated because I could really take the time to work things in my hands,” said Hoegemann. “What made me think of it is, I am a super nerd, [after] the specialty wands in fantasy games that hold certain spells.”

Hoegemann said she is in the process of establishing an online store for her creations, but can be reached via email for pricing inquiries.


Andrei Kallaur

After finishing his degree at Southern in Dec. 1999, Andrei Kallaur, graphic design alum, travelled to New York to seek opportunities there. After some mishaps early in his career, Kallaur said he eventually ended up working at one of the most celebrated publications globally, The New York Times.

Artwork by Andrei Kallaur who graduated from SCSU in 1999. Photo Credit, Andrei Kallaur

Artwork by Andrei Kallaur who graduated from SCSU in 1999. Photo Credit, Andrei Kallaur

“It was kind of a dream job. When I was actually hired, I was like, ‘pinch me, is this really happening?’  I couldn’t believe it,” said Kallaur. “Largely, it is an honor to be able to work at a newspaper with such heritage and being a part of crafting excellent user experience and also carrying this product into the future, making sure it is around for the next generation.”

Kallaur added he was also a part of the ‘62’, an art collective developed in 2003 for purpose of creating pieces that provided social commentary.

“We just made ridiculous artworks to talk about social injustices. It was how we were trying to address and bring awareness to these issues,” said Kallaur. “We were kind of all over the place, but we were out to have fun and make stuff no matter what the medium.”

Kallaur said he credits the overwhelming support from his professors during and following his time at Southern for playing a central role in his professional and creative work today.  

John Deschenes

John Deichendes' dual-guitar drawing. Photo Credit, John Deschenes

John Deichendes’ dual-guitar drawing. Photo Credit, John Deschenes

John Deschenes’ drawing “What Nightmares are Made of” featured in the 2013 Folio magazine is dark and intricate. The black backdrop is muddled by deep shades of blue dripped across the horror movie icons that adorned the glossy page. The villain Leatherface is the center, above him float characters such as Heath Ledger’s Joker and Jason from “Friday the 13th.”

“My preferred medium of art was always graphite but [I] also loved working with charcoal and colored pencils as well,” said Deschenes over email.

He was an art major for the three years he attended Southern, beginning in art education. He originally planned to teach art in highschool when he enrolled but later switched paths.

“From there I became just an art major and was looking do something more in the graphic design area,” said Deschenes. “Considering that’s a big part of where the jobs are in this field nowadays.

Deschenes later transferred and graduated from tech school and now works on automobiles. He still participates in different art mediums when he has the opportunity, creating portraits for friends and family members.

Other works by Deschenes include a drawing of two guitars leaning against an amplifier, the picture crops the upper half of the instruments focusing on the array of wires and pedals. The absence of color in the drawing brings a focus on the contrast between the two guitars.

“The best advice I can give anybody who wants to pursue art after college is to learn to appreciate all styles of art and to try to get your work known,” said Deschenes. “Networking with other artists and people who enjoy art especially is essential if you want to pursue art as a career.”

Crystal Tejeda

Crystal Tejeda's portrait painting. Photo Credit, Crystal Tejeda

Crystal Tejeda’s portrait painting. Photo Credit, Crystal Tejeda

Crystal Tejeda graduated in Spring 2014, during her time as a studio art major she practiced photography and found a passion for painting in her last year on campus. One painting by her is a woman against a warm red background. The smooth strokes on the canvas blend in the subjects blue sweater and her dark wavy hair.

I love art and I wanted to go for the purpose of practicing conceptual art with maybe eventually just having a series with the photographs and also with the paintings,” said Tejeda in a phone interview. “Then maybe having exhibitions in different studios of that nature not really to do anything commercial with it.”

Last Dec. Tejeda moved from Brooklyn, New York to Tampa, Florida where she now focuses on her career and settling in. She said that currently the landscape has not inspired her.

“Maybe it’s just the fact that I’ve been so consumed and preoccupied with other things maybe I haven’t had the chance or opportunity to take a step back or inspiring myself with what Tampa has to offer,” said Tejeda.

Although she admits that she has not been too involved in art, Tejeda is currently cooperating with Professor Jeremy Chandler, photography, to set up a gallery at Southern. She has been sending Chandler artwork to print and display along with her artist statement.

Apart from her artwork still being stored in Connecticut, she is eager to jump back into the artworld and continue her passion to create. Tejeda described that she is inspired by her surroundings and events in her life.

“Ever since I graduated I get back sometimes,” said Tejeda. “There’s so many painting and portraits I want to do and classes but I really haven’t had the chance or opportunity. But things are looking promising here in Florida so I do expect hopefully within the next year to be able to pick it up again and practice it and work with it.”

Photo Credit: Melissa Nunez – General Assignment Reporter



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