Art Professor Sven Anderson Brings Alumni Back to Campus for Group Show

What Can You Do With a Degree in Art Wall
What Can You Do With a Degree in Art Wall
What Can You Do With a Degree in Art Wall
What Can You Do With a Degree in Art Wall
What Can You Do With a Degree in Art Wall
What Can You Do With a Degree in Art Wall
What Can You Do With a Degree in Art Wall
What Can You Do With a Degree in Art Wall
Wedding photographer Hannah (Walsh) Kuznia  with her work
Wedding photographer Hannah (Walsh) Kuznia '15 with her work
Opening reception attendees browse artwork in the Martin-Mullen Gallery.
Opening reception attendees browse artwork in the Martin-Mullen Gallery.
Students in front of artwork
Art student Annabelle Keene, left, with student Linzee Turner, the model for Keene's artwork.

As a young person, Sven Anderson wasn’t sure what he wanted to study, much less what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. After starting out as a business major, he eventually decided on art.

Later in life, working as an associate professor of digital art at SUNY Oneonta, Anderson would often attend recruitment events, where he would constantly be asked one question, in particular, by parents of prospective students, the same question he had once asked himself: “What can you do with an art degree, anyway?”

After 30 years of mentoring students and watching them go on to become successful in their professional lives, Anderson is confident in his answer: With an art degree, you can do almost anything. You can design shoes for Steve Madden, create animations for famous video games and Pixar films, and even become the Photoshop cover artist of the year.

Sven Anderson hosting a talk about art
Sven Anderson giving a presentation on art
A crowd listening to Sven Anderson's speech.

On Thursday, Nov. 18, dozens of Anderson’s former students returned to campus to celebrate their mentor and the opening of his latest art show, a group exhibition called “What Can You Do with a Degree in Art.” The show, which fills all three campus galleries, features Anderson’s artwork as well as the work of more than 50 of his students and alumni.

“We’re especially excited about this exhibition because it really shows the diversity of decisions, art forms, and perspectives that can branch from one teacher and one degree,” said Gallery Director Sarah Simpson. “It’s incredibly inspiring to see the amazing things alumni have gone on to accomplish with an art degree from SUNY Oneonta, and we were so happy to welcome many of them back to campus.”

People admiring various pieces of art
Crowd of people admiring various paintings in a gallery
People admiring a sculpture

So…What Can You Do With an Art Degree?

The alumni artists featured in Anderson’s exhibition represent many different sectors of the art world. After graduating from SUNY Oneonta, they went on to become engineers, animators, tattoo artists, art teachers, costume and clothing designers, teachers, photographers, visual effects artists for video games and movies, graphic designers and web designers, software developers, and more. 

One of Anderson’s students, David Stammel, Class of 2004, is making a living creating 3D art for video games, most recently for the Halo and Destiny series. 

“The best part about being in Sven’s classroom was the support,” Stammel recalled while visiting campus for the show’s opening reception. “If you told him you wanted to do or create something, he’d believe in you and give you the runway to do it. It was an incredibly supportive environment.” 

Another one of Anderson’s students, Kelly Christian, Class of 2014, is now a footwear designer for Steve Madden Kids. Christian, whose shoe designs and sketches are included in the gallery show, said Anderson was the reason she chose SUNY Oneonta in the first place. 

David Stammel Halo Helmets
David Stammel '04, 3D artist for video games
Steve Madden Kids.
Kelly Christian '14, designer for Steve Madden Kids
Steve Madden Kids.
Ted Chin '13, Artist & Photographer
Steve Madden Kids.
Benjamin Barnard '04, Concept Artist

Even if a student chooses an unrelated profession, the problem solving and creative thinking skills learned as an art major can take them far in any role. 

“I think part of what has helped me succeed is just the creativity or out-of-the-box thinking I honed as an art major,” said Kathleen Norman, Class of 2013, who now works as a nonprofit executive handling finances, marketing and public relations. “Having taken graphic design and computer art classes, I’ve also been able to help organizations with branding and can easily add a more professional look and aesthetic to projects, and that has elevated a lot of what I do and made me more marketable.”

Four pieces of photography
Sculpture of a blue jay bird
Sculptures of various animals
Painting of a woman made to look like melting ice cream.
Sven Anderson
Sven Anderson portrait by Tyler Burke '18

Sven Anderson’s Background 

Anderson earned an MFA in Printmaking from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and a BFA in Printmaking from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He studied printmaking with Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17 in Paris.

After starting his teaching career in printmaking at West Texas A&M University in 1991, Anderson quickly realized that “computers could do a much better job than hands at some things.” With support from administrators and curiosity from students, he got to work and built one of the first digital art programs in the world.  

Originally from Long Beach, Calif., Anderson has taught digital art at SUNY Oneonta since 1997 and has sponsored numerous faculty/student grants and independent studies. His interests include printmaking, woodworking and digital art, and his work can be found in many collections in both the United States and Europe. In his spare time, Anderson serves as an assistant for several of the Ansel Adams Gallery Photography Workshops in Yosemite.

With retirement on the horizon, Anderson said he wanted what could be his last art show at SUNY Oneonta to be “a big celebration of all the time I’ve been here and all the students that have enriched my life and taught me how to do a lot of these things.” 

“That’s what this exhibition is about – celebrating all the things they have gone on to do,” he said, becoming emotional. “What I hope people take away from this thing is, gosh darn, he had a good time when he was here, his students enjoyed themselves, his students learned something valuable, and they went away with something that changed their life.”

Associate Professor of Digital Art Sven Anderson
Associate Professor of Digital Art Sven Anderson
Sven Anderson talks with former students and others at the opening reception for his exhibit.
Sven Anderson talks with former student Jeffrey Fugelsang '10.
Sven Anderson speaks with college President Alberto Cardelle and his wife, Rachel.
Sven Anderson speaks with college President Alberto Cardelle and his wife, Rachel.
Sven and Sarah
Art Gallery Director Sarah Simpson with Sven Anderson

“What Can You Do with a Degree in Art” is available to view through Dec. 23 in all three art galleries (Martin-Mullen Art Gallery, Project Space Gallery and Open Space Gallery) inside the Fine Arts building on campus.

SUNY Oneonta’s on-campus art galleries are open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. while classes are in session or by appointment. For more information about the gallery or upcoming exhibitions, contact Gallery Director Sarah Simpson at 607-436-2445 or

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