Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, associate professor of food studies in Falk College, was interviewed for the Syracuse.com story “Why aren’t NY farm workers in the Covid-19 vaccine line?” Minkoff-Zern, an expert on the intersections of food and social justice, comments on the…
Thirst for learning and creating never quenched for UC student
Thirst for learning and creating never quenched for UC studentMay 06, 2002Linda Kristensenlgkriste@syr.edu
Mary Ann Auricchio is an unusual member of the SU Class of 2002.
Her bachelor of fine arts degree in sculpture comes 19 years after her SU master of fine arts degree in illustration and 42 years after her first bachelor’s degree in English from LeMoyne College.
Her SU part-time studies reflect a lifelong love of art and the support of her husband, Dominick. An early computing pioneer, Dominick Auricchio joined SU in 1964 as a research associate. His team developed SULIRS, the library’s first computerized system (once one of the country’s top five) and did initial work that led to SUINFO on the Web. He’s in his 38th year teaching, now with the M.B.A. Independent Study Degree Program, although semi-retired.
After Le Moyne, Mary Ann taught for six years. She started graduate work in education, but stopped when her parents became ill. Her heart wasn’t in it. Always an artist, she couldn’t study art until she married and could use SU tuition benefits. Art classes were compatible with raising her children, who could play with brushes while she painted. She accumulated a substantial background in art a course at a time. When SU launched its Independent Study Degree Program in illustration, she found a flexible way to earn an M.F.A.
She praises art faculty members who mentored her artistically. In early classes, Professor James Dwyer taught her principles of design, painting and color. In illustration she learned how to paint to develop a concept.
After receiving the M.F.A in illustration, she broadened herself artistically through sculpture. There, she found an “fantastic community,” like a family, led by professors Rodger Mack and Lawson Smith. “I got drawn into the community there,” she says. “The people in sculpture are fantastic.”
She expected to return to teaching when the children became adolescents and volunteered as an art teacher briefly, but discovered that involvement in their lives was still important. True to their Jesuit education, the Auricchios helped the broader community while remaining active in their three children’s lives. Mary Ann used her writing, artistic and photography abilities through her volunteer work for local sports organizations and schools, as well as the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts.
She kept studying sculpture, but did not want the added expense of taxes for graduate-level tuition benefits when her sons were in law school. So she registered as an undergraduate, earning credits for another bachelor’s degree.
“Art comes to me intuitively,” she says. “I work hard, but I understand it. It just turned out that I had a high G.P.A.” Her designs have won awards and she continues her community service, including donating her liturgical art. Dominick now helps his wife use the computer to create designs. Their daughter has degrees in art and information studies, and she has creatively combined them into her own business.
As the part-time graduate with the most outstanding achievement in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Mary Ann recently received the 2002 Sylvia Wyckoff Book Award.
“I don’t feel I should get this award,” she says. “Everyone at ComArt should. They are hidden treasures.”