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GPI - Jennifer Dowling, Art Professor and Outgoing Arts & Ideas Chair

A smiling woman with red hair.
Courtesy of Jennifer Dowling

By Dylan Pichnarcik

Asst. News Editor 

What is your academic and professional background? 


My education has primarily focused on art and design, and those pursuits have been important to me since I was young. I studied fine art at UNH as an undergrad and received my M.F.A. in visual design from UMass Dartmouth. I have been teaching at FSU since the mid-1990s, and prior to that, worked in Boston doing contract work in user-interface design, animation, learning systems, and web development. 


What do you most enjoy about being a professor?

The genuine creativity and curiosity of my students is what motivates me as a professor. The ability to elicit fresh ideas and instill motivation, so they are interested in learning and exploring new things, is exciting and enriches my teaching.


What medium do you focus on?

I like working with and teaching design and digital technology, but artistically, I prefer traditional media (paint, colored pencil, pastel, collage, and mosaics) combined with computer software approaches. I refer to it as ‘hybrid art’ that has a reciprocal relationship. Working in one realm influences and affects the other.


What has been your biggest accomplishment while serving as Arts & Ideas Chair?

As a former Arts & Ideas committee member, I was eager to take on this role last September to help shape the event series, and I feel it has evolved successfully under my leadership. The new theme of Vitality & Vision for the 2024-2025 series is particularly appropriate for the period in which we live. The event schedule that we have organized and planned for next year is robust, with a variety of noteworthy and thought-provoking speakers and artists. I have consistently promoted the events throughout the year to encourage attendance by using social media posts and stories, email blasts, and other marketing strategies, and this has led to increased interest.


What do you hope is the future of Arts & Ideas?

I anticipate that Arts & Ideas will become more relevant in the educational and intellectual lives of our students as they seek to challenge their perspectives on a myriad of topics in and out of the classroom. This will inevitably lead to engaging conversations about concepts they are exposed to as they develop their philosophies, identities, and goals.


What event has been the most meaningful to you? 

The film screening of "She Said" in November was rather powerful, especially the discussion with Megan Twohey afterward, who was one of the New York Times journalists spotlighted in the movie. This investigation revealed Harvey Weinstein's abuse toward women that opened the door to the #MeToo movement. The way the story was told resonated with me and left a lasting impact. It was frustrating to watch yet empowering at the same time.


What future projects are you working on?

I am eager to teach the RAMS 101 Freshman Foundation course I proposed for the fall, entitled “Real or Digital? Creativity and Artificial Intelligence.” The relevance of this topic and its implications are significant right now. It will be fascinating to teach and learn from this incoming class of students since they are already using AI regularly and the capabilities will impact their educational experiences and future careers.


What can students expect from a future class with you? 

My students are engaged throughout the semester with hands-on digital media projects while learning many topics and gaining useful skills. I am fair, open-minded, and encouraging with realistic expectations and solid experience. I try to help and support their creative ideas and unique pursuits, and regularly assign design projects with local clients to provide valuable “real-world” experiences.



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