When Jeanne (Juno) Schaser came to ASU two years ago as a transfer student from Eastern Arizona College, she was excited to be taking classes from some of the top photographers in the field, people whose work appeared in major museum collections around the world.
What she didn’t realize was that she would be learning as much outside the classroom as inside, through internships, work-study programs and capstone projects that stretched her abilities and helped her talent bloom.
Schaser originally applied and was accepted to both Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona, but chose ASU for its excellent photography program. She isn’t regretting her choice – the ASU School of Art was the only program in Arizona to rank in the top 25 on the 2014 U.S. News & World Report.
As a double major in photography and museum studies, she works as an intern at the ASU Art Museum and also an editorial assistant in ASU Media Relations, and she has curated an exhibition of her own at ASU’s Step Gallery. This semester she’s also working at ASU’s Northlight Gallery, learning how to care for archived photographs as well as how to plan and coordinate exhibitions from the gallery's collection.
“I’ve gotten to pursue so many diverse opportunities, I don’t think I could have done this anywhere else but ASU,” Schaser says. “I’ve gotten hands-on experience at every place I’ve worked. I’ve tried out a lot of things and learned a lot of different components of what a career could offer.”
Transferring from Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher, Schaser was drawn to ASU by its top-notch faculty in photography, including Elizabeth (Betsy) Schneider, an associate professor in the School of Art who won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011.
“Professor Schneider is great, one of my favorite professors,” says Schaser. “She has such a great energy and is always willing to meet with you at any time and to look at your work and offer suggestions. I still meet with her, because I value her input so much.”
Another formative experience was taking a course on gallery exhibitions from faculty associate Peter Bugg. She was required to create a proposal for a gallery show, and with Bugg’s encouragement she submitted her exhibition proposal to a campus committee and was selected to curate a show at the Step Gallery.
Her show, “Crave: The Art of Dependency,” looked at the phenomenon of addiction through various media produced by different artists, about half of them students and the other half photographers in Northlight’s archive. It was a moving, personal show that also boosted Schaser’s resume.
“The exhibition was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done,” she says.
Schaser’s father gave her a camera when she was seven years old, and after seeing her delight with the hobby he bought her a digital camera a few years later. Fresh out of high school, she was doing freelance photography for the local newspaper, the Eastern Arizona Courier.
She says she loves the dynamic nature of photography, and the way it both records and interprets culture.
At ASU Media Relations she puts both her writing and artistic skills to work, helping edit the ASU News website, posting the weekly photo gallery and managing the ASU News Twitter account. She also has taken photos at ASU commencement ceremonies, an event she says is “really exciting, with a lot of different moving parts.”
Schaser will attend her own commencement on May 9 at Sun Devil Stadium, graduating cum laude. She has several internship offers this summer, including one from a museum in New York City, but she’s not sure what her next step will be.
“I’m excited that I have so many opportunities. I don’t have to run out and take the first job. I love it that my path isn’t set in stone.”