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Florida State University


"I have been interested in photography from the age of eight when I dressed up my dog and posed him in weird places," says Becki Rutta, an MFA student who was recently awarded the University's Graduate Research and Creative Activity Award.

"I have always been inventive and creative, but my love for Art began in my high school's darkroom," she says. As an undergraduate, she received "traditional training in the pre-digital era, a hands-on process." Now she works primarily in digital format, although she "can't stand spending much time in front of a computer."

Becki's photography contains color and text, and either the negative or the print is physically manipulated. Most important are the physical elements—"I cannot keep my hands off my work"—and layering—"I layer negatives with text and imagery, and hand scratch it. Or I'll layer with plexiglass that has been manipulated with tools and covered in transfers, which brings in the element of text."

Photography is her focus, but as a graduate student, she says, "My knowledge of other mediums has expanded, and as an artist, I have grown tremendously." For this, she credits "the amazing Photography professors who support and encourage my artistic endeavors, while letting me down gently when my brilliant ideas are not so brilliant. This is a challenging career; they do everything they can to prepare you."

Her preparation has included donating art to benefit those living with HIV/AIDS—Big Bend Cares' Zen Artopia honored Becki with Best in Show 2006. That same year, she served as gallery coordinator for Big Bend Contemporary, the new gallery that provides exposure for MFA students' work. From personally helping to build the gallery (including dry walling) to coordinating and advertising shows, to learning how to display art, she says, "It was a great education." This year, she is serving as president of FSU's League of Graduate Artists.

At the Society for Photographic Education's national conference held in Miami in the spring, Becki was not only given the opportunity to speak about her work, she was also honored with the Student Award. "The conference was a great opportunity to see and hear contemporary photographers and educators from across the country and to learn new techniques."

But her most memorable experience has been teaching "Digital Imagemaking," a technical Photography course. "Teaching requires dedication, time, and patience, but I was also learning. It is one thing to know a subject well, but to communicate that to others is challenging and yet fun—I enjoyed teaching."

After graduation in the spring, as a member of the first class to graduate with a three-year MFA degree, Becki plans to become a "brilliant artist, making a lot of money, or to become a truck driver." The latter is doubtful, because, as she says, "the world needs and loves images in all aspects."

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