Christine Morla '98
Professor and Gallery Director, Oxnard College
Studio Arts major, Fine Arts emphasis
What have you been doing since graduating from LMU?
After graduating from LMU, I pursued and earned my M.F.A. from Claremont Graduate University. While a grad student, I was exposed to teaching Art as a teaching assistant at Pitzer and Claremont McKenna Colleges as well as First Street Gallery Art Center. I always knew I wanted to teach. However, I was unsure of what grade level would be a good fit for me, so I exposed myself to different experiences during those first few years post graduate school.
I taught various ages as a substitute teacher for L.A.U.S.D, Alhambra Unified School District as well as non-profit institutions like the Armory Center for the Arts while still teaching part-time at local universities and community colleges. During all of this, I was still producing artwork, exhibiting in galleries and curating shows as a professional artist. I feel this is very important because it keeps my discipline fresh and informs what I do as an arts educator and gallery director.
In 2004, I was hired at Oxnard College as a full-time professor of art and gallery director where I chaired the Art Department for five years. This year will be my 17th year teaching and gallery directing at Oxnard College.
What is your day-to-day job like?
My day starts off by setting up the studio for teaching. This includes preparing for technical demonstrations, lecture and critiques. During class, I usually give group and one-to-one critiques, guiding the students through their assignments. As is the case with most institutions, I also serve on various committees to support the college. Balancing my instruction, committee work as well as directing the college gallery can make for a full and exciting workday.
How did your undergraduate studies prepare you for your career?
My undergraduate studies challenged me in a way that I had not experienced before. Rising to these challenges gave me the fortitude to do well academically. Availing myself of the knowledge and connections that my professors provided also gave me unique skills to succeed both as a professor and practicing artist. I gained true mentors in my Art professors, who have continued to provide guidance and encouragement through the years. I feel those connections are part of the intangible benefits of applying oneself as a student in higher education.
Why did you decide to major in Studio Arts?
Growing up, I was exposed to creating things all the time. My dad was an artist in many ways. He studied industrial design in the Philippines and was also a weaver, an exceptional sign painter and musician. He exposed me and my siblings to everything he loved and passed on the enjoyment of making things, instilling a sense of pride from creating. I have been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. It was natural for me to be drawn to majoring in Studio Arts.
Tell us a little about your concentration in Studio Arts.
At the time, Studio Arts and Graphic Design were the only two choices for the Art Major. I chose Studio Arts because I was interested in the fine arts aspect and being able to create things with my hands. I enjoyed my drawing and painting courses the most. By my senior year, I developed a portfolio of sculptural paintings that brought together all of my interests and eventually got me accepted into graduate school.
What was your favorite aspect of the STAR program?
One of my favorite things about the STAR program was the sense of community I felt working in the Burns painting studio. As an art student, I remember spending most of my time producing my work in the studio. Since other students were also working, this lead to great conversations about art, sharing ideas, feedback, organizing art shows and forging friendships that still exist today.
Were you involved in any meaningful organizations/activities while at LMU?
Yes, I was involved in Isang Bansa, the Filipino-American student organization and Asian Pacific Student Services. These organizations were integral to feeling included and part of the college community. I was also involved in the Art Club where I experienced curating my first art exhibit.
What is your favorite memory from your time at LMU?
Honestly, my favorite memories were ones that I made while working in the Burns Painting studio. As a young, aspiring artist at the time, I felt like I thrived in that space. It was like a second home to me.
Do you have any advice for current STAR students?
Work hard. Take risks. Stand up for your work. Make friends. Be kind.