Studio Arts Major Shares What It’s Like to Study Art at Syracuse University

Maddie Chiarolanzio
Maddie Chiarolanzio

Madelyne Joan (Maddie) Chiarolanzio is able to double-major in studio arts and psychology thanks to the School of Art’s B.S. studio arts program, which allows you to balance an intensive studio art experience along with another academic area of study.

A junior, she is also a VPA Ambassador. If you are a prospective student with questions about majoring in art or any aspect of life at VPA and Syracuse University, email her at .

Why did you choose to attend VPA as a studio arts major?

I chose to attend VPA at Syracuse University because I wanted a more traditional college feel but with a strong art program. I took art classes my whole life and often looked at it like a hobby, but in my senior year of high school I began to realize it was more than that for me. It was my outlet, my journal, my freedom, and I wanted to learn how to make a career out of it. 

What did you hope to get out of the program, and did you achieve it?

My hope of the program was to feel like a real artist. I am not sure I have achieved that quite yet and honestly question if any artist themself truly feels like a successful artist. However, VPA has broadened my idea of what it means to be an artist, which is something I really value. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone in terms of the subject and material of work I make, which I feel in turn has given me more confidence in myself and work. 

Did you have to prepare for this major in any way? If you didn’t, do you wish you did?

I think the biggest preparation I wish I had done would have been to keep a more detailed and focused sketchbook. Having a sketchbook and practicing it is one of the most important things you can do not only as a visual art major but as a working artist as well. Even if it’s just a place to journal down your ideas and concepts, practicing the daily habit of a sketchbook is very important. It will prepare you well because most visual art classes require you to keep a daily sketchbook. 

Madelyne Chiarolanzio paints on a canvas on a wallWhat is a typical day like?

I am a double major in studio art and psychology, so my day is typically split between those two styles of classes. It depends on the day, but typically I have at least one studio class and one lecture class a day. In between classes I like to go to the library to work on homework or spend time in the studio. I am someone who needs to separate my work from my relaxing space, so I really value doing my homework in a library and my studio work in a studio, rather than in my room. 

What was the most memorable moment of your time at Syracuse University?

I don’t know if I have a specific moment, rather just an environment that is most memorable to me. During COVID, it was a lonely time, and at Syracuse pretty much all my classes were online. I was fortunate though as a second-year art student to get a studio space. Other than my room this is the place I spent time at most. I am very thankful to have had that space, which was safe, private, and a nice get away from my dorm room. It was very special to me and is something I will always be grateful to have had during that difficult time.

What advice do you have for teens looking for the right college?

I know it is hard with COVID, but I think touring places is important, and if that is not possible for you, reach out to the admission programs and see if you can Zoom or email with a student at that school. In these more personal encounters, ask yourself, do you like the people on the campus or at that school? Would you want to be them? Are there many types of people or does everyone look the same? You can learn a lot about what you want in a college just by observing the environment. College is a place where for the first time you can be anyone you want, and you will change. Don’t fear the change, embrace it!