At age 36, Jesse Amburgey is looking forward to fulfilling his lifelong dream of earning a bachelor’s degree as he prepares to graduate from Michigan State University in Spring 2023 with a B.A. in Studio Art.
Having grown up in the East Lansing area, Amburgey spent many years traveling, bartending, and living in different places after receiving a General Associate Degree from Lansing Community College. However, he says there was never a time he didn’t draw or paint and that he has always been inspired by his grandmother, who studied art at MSU.
Taking time to reflect on his life during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amburgey decided to pursue his passion for art by enrolling at Michigan State University as a Studio Art major with a primary focus on Painting.
“Getting my art degree is something I always wanted to do, and my partner was really supportive,” Amburgey said. “So, I’ve been powering it out and it’s been exciting.”
“Getting my art degree is something I always wanted to do, and my partner was really supportive. So, I’ve been powering it out and it’s been exciting.”
Amburgey’s artwork currently is featured in the 2023 Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD) Undergraduate Exhibition, which runs through Friday, April 27, at (SCENE) Metrospace, located at 110 Charles Street in East Lansing, Michigan. The exhibition hours are Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
The AAHD Undergraduate Exhibition annually celebrates the work of AAHD students, featuring select work created for classes in Apparel and Textile Design, Ceramics, Comic Art and Graphic Novels, Drawing, Electronic Art and Intermedia, Graphic Design, Photography, Painting, Printmaking, and Sculpture. The 2023 exhibition displays work from 53 AAHD students, including a mixed media (gouache paint and charcoal on paper) piece from Amburgey, titled Whoever You Are Holding Me Now.
After Amburgey graduates this spring, he says he plans to take a year to develop his portfolio before continuing his art education by pursuing an MFA in Painting.
“MSU has prepared me for the road ahead through its incredible faculty and professional staff,” he said. “I have made deeply meaningful connections with my peers and instructors that will undoubtedly continue to influence my art-making process for years to come.”
“MSU has prepared me for the road ahead through its incredible faculty and professional staff. I have made deeply meaningful connections with my peers and instructors that will undoubtedly continue to influence my art-making process for years to come.”
In 2022, Amburgey was recognized for his outstanding work as the recipient of two scholarships presented by the AAHD Department.
He received the Marta S. Hentschel Schafer Endowed Scholarship in Art, which recognizes outstanding undergraduate students majoring in AAHD, and the Ralph Calder Scholarship, which is given annually to a junior in the AAHD Department who has demonstrated excellence in coursework and who exhibits superb potential going into their senior year. Named in honor of the architect of the Kresge Art Center, which houses the AAHD Department, the Ralph Calder Scholarship is for $500. And for the Marta S. Hentschel Schafer Endowed Scholarship in Art, Amburgey received $1,500.
Amburgey says scholarships give students, especially art students, the freedom to explore new possibilities and new tools for creative expression.
“I’ve had some wonderful recognition from the faculty and the scholarships, of course, have been fantastic,” he said. “Not having a compromised vision in terms of budget has been so helpful and impactful. On a normal budget, you’re dealing with student supplies, so you’re always making concessions with materials. Scholarships let you really dig your teeth into the art world and really benefit from working with professional-grade materials. It’s one of the best ways you can prepare to be a professional artist.”
“Scholarships let you really dig your teeth into the art world and really benefit from working with professional-grade materials. It’s one of the best ways you can prepare to be a professional artist.”
Amburgey’s ultimate goal is to someday open a gallery and studio space of his own, but for now, he is looking forward to completing his bachelor’s degree.
“Achieving a college degree is something I have always wanted for myself,” he said, “and throughout the entire process, and all the hard work, my partner has been behind me cheering me on to the finish line.”
Written by Kim Popiolek