A new semester and reasons why I<3NIU!

I kinda slacked of with the posts towards the end of the fall semester. Things became extremely busy. But it’s a new semester and a new start. This semester I’m taking some very exciting courses. ARTD 468: Problems in Photography with the topic on Documentary and a focus on professional development, ARTD 469 Advance Photographic Media, ARTH Studies in Design with the topic being Fashion History, ARTH 380 Pre-Colombin Art, and ARTS 362 Intermediate Sculpture. Each semester is exciting and a bit nerve wrecking. Trying to adjust to  new schedule, new courses, and new challenges and opportunities. 

February is here so I wanted to take a moment to talk about why I Heart NIU. I heart NIU because the people that I have met and those relationships that I have developed with them have helped mold me into the person I am. I heart NIU because it has challenged me in every step of the way. I heart NIU because I met my closest of friends here. Because it gave me a photo department with a great photo “family”. Because it was here that I have experienced the most growth intellectually, personally, and artistically. Because it gave me the opportunity join many organizations such as NLA which have made me a better leader and have given me ability to improve my confidence and my public speaking skills. I heart NIU because at the end of the day it’s the place I call home for most of the year. I heart NIU because of the School of Art, The Latino Resource Center, the library filled with knowledge, the darkroom, the photo lab. The photo department, the friends, the memories, the experiences, the journey……



We are halfway into the semester! I can’t believe it!

Besides being incredibly busy I have the opportunity to experience some great things so far this semester.  I attended the Unity Conference which I incredibly enjoyed. The keynote speaker, Dr. Antonia Darder, was very inspiring and powerful. The workshops were very diverse and informational, most were given by outstanding NIU faculty.

There are many organizations which I involve myself with. The University Honors Peer Mentor Program is just one of them. Through this organization I have had the opportunity to assist new freshmen in the Honors Program and NIU. When I was a freshmen this program had just begun and I really benefited from my mentor, Laura Fenwick. She helped me out when ever I had questions or concerns and was available to assist me in any way she could. I wanted to be able to do that and so I have continued to be in the program.

I’m really looking forward to the Latin Film Festival in the spring semester put on by the Latino Resource Center. The films they show are always educational. They range from documentaries to dramas. This is a great engaged learning opportunity  because the topics. themes, and stories that are shown are those we don’t see very often in the media. The screening are usually followed by a discussion aspect where dialogue is begun. Sometimes we have one of the filmmakers talk or we may Skype with the director. Overall this is a great experience and I can’t wait to see which films will screen next semester!

The opportunities I have had help me become a well rounded person. Being a mentor allows me to share my experiences and knowledge. It helps polish my communication skills as well as gives me an opportunity to help out a fellow NIU student. The Film Festival feeds my love of film and culture, It gives me the opportunity to see a film with people with similar interest and provides an opportunity to begin dialogue.

I hope you guys are having a good semester and enjoying the fall colors! I just painted pumpkins the other day, take a look!


Juan Molina

The semester has begun..

I just completed my third week of classes and I’m really excited about many things coming up! I’m currently taking ARTD 468 which is an advance photography course which will focus on lighting. ARTD  419 which will focus on digital editing and manipulation. EPFE 220 known as an education as an agent for change. EPS 426 foundations of psychedelic studies and FLSP 320 which is an introduction to Spanish literary analysis.

My first photo project will be due next week for 468, 15 printed images in which natural lighting is the main source. I’m still unsure of my exact concept but at this point I’m considering creating a series around children and them becoming aware and conscious of their bodies or a series of images revolving around the theme of loneliness… I might post some of the images here once I’m done. For EPFE we are reading The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager, yes it is as interesting as it sounds! One of my interest is the idea of growing up and coming of age. There are so many ideas explored in the book about how teenagers came to be “created”, the way they have evolved, and how they have been perceive throughout history.

My instructors are really interesting. But since photography is my emphasis I am particularly excited about Jesicca Labatte who has shown at Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago! She seems really nice, knowledgeable, and her class will include a portion which will focus on studio lighting! Juan Fernandez did his undergrad at Columbia College which has one of the best photo programs in the country so I’m really excited to have him as well! He is also incredibly knowledgeable on technical things but he is also very conceptual.

Besides classes and extracurricular events, I had a meeting with my advisor and I’m considering triple minoring in Art History, Spanish, and Latino and Latin American Studies. I have to a a little bit of research to do but at this point is seems like I might be able to do this and still graduate in four years!  There are some great event coming up like the NIU Unity Celebration and Conference as well as the Social Justice Conference which I am really excited about! While it’s been busy the academic semester if off to a great start!



SO this blog will mainly focus on my experiences being a Norther Light Ambassador and being a student at NIU! So lets get started!

There are various reasons why I chose to attend NIU. Not only was it affordable and had a great art program but the people and interactions I had seemed to be very genuine. I first had contact with NIU at a National Portfolio Day hosted at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While I was there I spoke to several representatives from various schools but the most impactful experience came when I spoke to the representatives from NIU. They were incredibly nice, helpful, and genuine. They seemed interested in me and in return I became interested in NIU. I applied to NIU, visited the campus, and even applied for the School of Art Freshmen Tuition Scholarship, and guess what? I got it! I felt really humble and excited, I felt like the School of Art really believed in me and my artwork in order to be willing to invest so much in my education. When it came down to it I chose NIU!

This is my second year being in NLA. I chose to reapply this year for various reasons. First of all this is such a new program(this is it’s third year running!) and the title comes with such high regard I just really wanted to continue being a member. I wanted to continue being a part of the NIU community and I really enjoyed serving the School of Art and helping out at different events such as Open Houses. Last semester I also helped out with the School of art Continuing Students Scholarship. We had great applicant’s and while it was very hard work setting up all the portfolios for review I was super excited to see some of the amazing talent many of my fellow art students had. I’m talking amazing, there was someone who had paintings and drawings on pieces of dry wall that seemed to fade and bleed and some lit up, crazy right?

I’ve had some great experiences at NIU, some are resume worthy while others simply enriched me as a person and an artist. One of the best experiences I have had however is my ARTD 313 Introduction to Photography course with Kimberly Turner. I arranged to make this an in-course contract honors course. Can I just say how amazingly talented and insightful some instructors can be! Kim is one of those people. Making this course honors forced me to actually interact with a professor outside of a classroom setting, something I’m sometimes too nervous to do. It allowed me to design the honors aspect of the course and what I wanted to learn about. Each week I had an enrichment assignment. I would either research an artist, go to an art event, or do a reading . I then met up with her during her office hours for discussion. I initially thought these meetings would last 30 minutes or so, but most ran over an hour! I learned twice as much as if this class was a regular course. I grew as an artist, as a person, and as a student. I also had the great opportunity to develop a relationship with an amazing teacher, artist, and individual. (Thanks Kim!)

So there you have, my first blog post. I’m feeling kinda accomplished! I hope you guys find it worth reading!

Juan Molina