Emily Squires

Emily Squires (top row, second from left) with representatives and recipients of Erenstine Betsberg & Arthur Osver Scholarships.

Emily Squires, MFA12
The Ernestine Betsberg and Arthur Osver Endowed Scholarship

The return to graduate school posed a conundrum for Emily Squires.
After nearly five years working as a teacher and administrator for Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program, she realized she wanted to devote more time to developing her own work as an artist. Yet she worried that the single-minded focus of most graduate art programs would be too limiting.

“My track record is such that I like to focus on lots of different things simultaneously and see where the connections are,” says Squires, who also considered graduate programs in social work and education. “The opportunities to work both within the discipline and externally, bringing other sources of information into my work, were really important to me.”

That elusive curricular balance drew Squires to the Graduate School of Art. As a printmaker, she has challenged herself to explore different media, incorporating video, installation, and photography into her work. Courses in women’s studies and German philosophy have similarly influenced her current studio practice, which investigates power structures and issues of voice.

“I curate imagery and language from a wide range of historical and contemporary sources, including political speech, poetry, news media, and science fiction,” Squires says. “I want to draw attention to who speaks, who listens, and what is actually heard.”

Scholarship support has afforded Squires the time to invest fully in her art while getting involved with activities on and off campus.

“As someone who worked professionally with artists for a long time, the debt I saw so many of them working with was just not sustainable,” Squires says. “Washington University’s ability to help was a pretty motivating factor for me in terms of what was financially feasible for the future. I don’t think I would be here otherwise.”

A representative on the Graduate Professional Council, Squires and fellow MFA student Robert Long recently curated Parabola, an exhibition of work by graduate students from all schools at the University.

She also serves as an advisor with Growing American Youth, a local non-profit organization that provides support for youth who may identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, asexual, or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity. During a recent convention the group held, she taught a workshop on art and social change.

Squires hopes to continue pursuing programmatic work in art that involves teenagers after graduation, but knows her graduate education has prepared her for whatever lies ahead.

“The emphasis the MFA program places on creative problem-solving is something that will translate no matter what I end up doing,” she says.

Return to Sam Fox School Scholarship Initiative page