Cassi Rebman
BFA in Fine Arts Studio
Independent Contractor; Foundry Apprentice at the National Ornamental Metal Museum
Memphis, Tennessee, USA

What was your major and how did you choose it?

Fine arts studio with an emphasis in sculpture. I started my academic career at MCAD as a painter, but found that sculpture and installation better suited my desire to work immediately with narrative content. I chose the cross disciplinary program because I wanted the freedom of multiple formats and media to allow the medium to enhance concept.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Brad Jirka—he was my spirit guide. He is also a reliable source of support and has a wealth of knowledge to tap from.

How do you feel about the Twin Cities?

I didn't realize how wonderfully unique Minneapolis was until I left. I miss it greatly.

Best thing you ever got/saw on the free shelf?

A winter peacoat and many, many found objects for projects.

Did MCAD prepare you for life after graduation? In what way?

My time at MCAD provided a realistic work load experience akin to that which is outside of academia. It is common to have to make work at a day job and then work on your personal practice afterwards. It also provided me with contacts to find employment in the scenic industry and in public sculpture.

What advice do you have for current MCAD students and/or artists at the beginning of their creative careers?

Figure out the work/life balance. Take care of yourself so you have more to give to those closest to you and to yourself. Don't take your personal life for granted.

Describe what you do for work and how you feel about it.

I have done various things over the past five years—everything from drawing and painting to photography to hand modeling sculpture to fabricated metal sculpture to wooden installation elements. Having the diverse set of skills that I acquired from my art education has allowed me to supplement my income so I can sustain my personal practice and keep my bills paid.

As the nature of independent contracting is feast or famine, it's helpful to have a consistent, full-time source of income. With everything being a one-off, I find I'm always learning and I'm grateful for any opportunity that will lead me to greater refinement of my skillset. This brought me to the National Ornamental Metal Museum's apprenticeship program. At the Metal Museum, I maintain and progress operations within the foundry at the National Ornamental Metal Museum. This is a two year vocational training/artist residency program where I am advancing my skills in metal casting while I also pick up teaching and business management experience. We are a non-profit dedicated to the advancement and preservation of the craft of fine metal work. While I'm not working on commissions for the museum, I am making work of my own while building connections with other artists and art organizations in the Memphis area. Since being here, I can tell I have gotten much better at making quality cast metal objects and have really honed in my ability to finish a project. I'm thrilled to have made it into such an enriching opportunity.

How do you network yourself and your art?

Social media, iron pours, residencies, and public art install opportunities. Apply to all of it!

What inspires your work?

Unrealized potential as well as frailty and strength within the human condition.

Current obsession?

The work of Dan Harmon, Urs Fischer, and keeping my caffeine intake regular.

Your biggest takeaway from MCAD?

Always try your hardest, don't compromise the quality of what you do.

Lastly, do you have a favorite interview question we didn't ask? Share the question and your answer!

How many cups of coffee do you drink per day? I have a minimum requirement of two cups. Anything less than that and I technically don't exist.