Buidling a Legacy at MCAD

Craig Rice (left) and his son CRICE share a laugh on the MCAD patio.

Meet CRICE, a senior comic art student at MCAD, the son of faculty member and alum Craig Rice, and a recipient of the Alumni MCAD Legacy Scholarship.

Did you know that MCAD offers a pretty hefty scholarship to children of alumni? The Alumni MCAD Legacy Scholarship is a total scholarship of $8,000 available to undergraduate students, and all children of MCAD alumni* are eligible.

One such Legacy Scholarship recipient, Connor Rice (who goes by the art name CRICE) and his father, Craig, recently sat down with us to chat about their experiences at MCAD and with the scholarship.


Let’s start with a few questions for you, Craig. What first drew you to MCAD?

Craig: I went to school here back in the early-to-mid 70s. I had gone here earlier on in my life for a children’s summer program—I was probably twelve or thirteen years old—and really enjoyed it so then I came back in college.

You also decided to come back here later in life.

Craig: Well, a few people talked me into being on the board. Lee Lynch, Bruce Bean, and the school’s president at that time spent a year convincing me to join. So I did it, and I ended up being part of the board for ten years. Toward the end of my term, there had been discussions about updating the film program here and so I got a chance to start teaching in 2007.

And you’ve been here ever since?

Craig: That’s right.

CRICE, did you come here a lot with your dad when you were younger?

CRICE: Yeah, I took summer classes here when I was younger and they were great—Shoutout to Brent—so I pretty much always knew I would end up here.

What kinds of things did you do in high school? Were you always interested in art?

CRICE: I was always interested in art, but I wasn’t always very focused on it. It was something I just liked to do. I played sports a solid amount in high school, and I only took one art class. It was pretty open, it didn’t really have much structure, so I definitely had to push myself once I got here.

It was a change of pace?

CRICE: Right. When I was younger the only person I ever really got art lessons from was a friend of my dad’s—he would come over sometimes and give me lessons.

Craig: Being a filmmaker, and even because of my background in music, he was always exposed to other artists and creative people because it’s all I’ve really ever done. I’ve done some business stuff, but it’s always kind of been art- or entertainment-related, so creativity was always in the house, along with art books, and I was really into comic collection.

CRICE: That’s what got me into comics.

Craig: Yeah, and I still am into comics, but I mean I had a collection. I kept my first comic book that I ever had, and then he kind of got into that. He’s actually more into it now than I ever was. It is his major!

Magician by CRICE; CRICE Symbol

Very cool. So, you came here a lot growing up and never really thought of going to another college—is that right?

CRICE: Yeah, I just never considered other options when we were supposed to be filling out applications and stuff in high school. The other ones I filled out were just jokes. I mean, I did go to Normandale to get my generals out of the way, but I always knew that I was going to end up at MCAD. I was like, well the food here was pretty good when I was little so I was like, okay, I’ll try it out. [Laughs]

Now that you’re here, what’s your favorite part about MCAD?

CRICE: I think my favorite part about MCAD is its size. It’s big enough to have all these cool things but small enough that I’ve never felt like I didn’t have access to them. It’s really tight here. The work might be really hard and it might be a pain sometimes, but I’ve always felt like I could easily branch out. It’s never been scary for me to talk to a teacher I didn't know or take a class outside of my major. I’ve also never had a teacher I didn’t like.

"My favorite part about MCAD is its size. It’s big enough to have all these cool things but small enough that I have access to them."

You probably never took a class from your dad since you’re in different departments, but do you two ever see each other in the hallways? It’s not a very big school.

CRICE: I’d say so. Pretty often.

Craig: Often, yeah.

CRICE: Yeah, I think it’s cool, I get a lot of free lunches.

Craig: Last semester he had a studio right next to me on the third floor, so we were neighbors.

CRICE: It’s always nice to have that access to advice, too, on a project or something, or just, anytime.

Definitely. What makes MCAD different from other art and design colleges and other colleges in general?

Craig: I’ll start, because I’ve been to like four other colleges other than this one.

I think what’s different about this school is that it's in Minnesota. We’re in such a creative state, and similar to Chicago and LA and New York there’s a creative energy here, but unlike those cities there is also an acceptance of others’ creativity—you don’t have the same kind of blood sport. That’s not to say there are less quality artists, just less fierceness. And MCAD promotes that. I think that’s what I like about the school and I joined the board purely to help.

And also, in today’s economy an artist has to get serious about how they approach their work and how can they be creative not just in their work but with creative problem-solving in their daily life and in their career. MCAD is really geared toward that. We want our students to go into the future and really figure out how they’re going to make it and make a difference. Nothing against people who want to just be artists and want to paint and sculpt, but you gotta figure out how you’re gonna pay rent, too.

CRICE: As for me, I’m not sure what other art colleges are like, but this place is definitely way different from the community college. That was pretty much another year of high school. When I came here, it was way smaller and everyone was way more eager to go out of their way to talk to you for no reason. It’s cool to be around people who are really pumped about what they are doing and be able to turn a corner and see something that’s like ‘Whoa, this is super cool. I’m gonna have to steal a little bit of this.’

Sure, you find inspiration everywhere here.

CRICE: Yeah, finding inspiration, I think, is one of the most underrated things when you’re just, like, walking around. It’s really cool. And this school has definitely provided that for me. Even the sculpture garden out front. That’s a great place.

But also, like what my dad was saying, everybody here definitely seems like they’re out to help. I haven’t really run into any malicious people. It's the opposite—people are like, “Oh, do you need help with this? I’ll show you how to do it.”

Great. Craig, what would you say to other alumni who are thinking of encouraging their children to attend MCAD?

Craig: Well, if your child is interested in art and has talent and wants to go here, this school is a great choice. There is a legacy here. This school’s been around for 128 years and it has a legacy that it continues to uphold.

I think the size of the school is really conducive to getting hands-on experience, too. You know, teachers here are really open to talking with students, open to helping students, open to getting involved, because most of the teachers here are still doing what they are teaching and so you’re not getting people who are just coming in.

Or were working in the field like twenty years ago.

Craig: Yeah. They’re in here and they encourage the kids to get involved and help out and I love that.

And then a similar question for you, CRICE: if you were to meet another child of an alum, would you encourage him or her to come here? Is it helpful having a father who has a reputation here?

CRICE: Every person’s different, but me, I definitely needed to go to school. I just didn’t know enough. I didn’t know how to draw well enough. I didn’t know how to do anything well enough. Going to MCAD has definitely been a good experience, just because I learned so much, like craft-wise and how to analyze things.

If you feel like this is something for you, just make sure that you are ready to keep an open mind, because this school is definitely different. When I first came here I was definitely shocked—I was like, this is crazy—but you just gotta keep an open mind and just trust in the system. They know what they're doing here.

Great advice. So last question: How did you hear about the Alumni Legacy Scholarship and was it easy to get?

CRICE: I didn't have to do anything. My financial advisor is always looking out for me and she hooked me up with the scholarship. Thanks Laura!

*MCAD alumni who have completed an undergraduate or graduate degree program.