McCoy Paints, Creates, Innovates with Art at UM-Flint

Colin Roedel, Writer

Senior Janice McCoy sits in Foster Coffee Co., looking very in place. She sports a yellow floral shirt, thick black glasses, a short haircut, and two nose piercings. It’s snowing outside, but she doesn’t seem to notice. She shares the same name as my mother, so I automatically trust her. I don’t believe in stereotypes, but at first glance you know she is an artist. She struck me as someone who would live in Ann Arbor, however, I was wrong.

She shares that she loves the city of Flint and all of its art culture, and hopes to continue to live here. McCoy graduated from Oxford High school, and was often found in the art room during her free time. Upon graduation, she moved “up here” to attend university, and ended up living in the dorms for three years.

“I’m going to be honest, it was not my first choice to go to school here,” said McCoy.

She originally wanted to attend Michigan State University, but received full tuition from UM-Flint, which motivated her to attend. She feels it was the better choice for her, and feels campus has become her home. Upon entering the university, she decided to pursue a biology degree.

“So many people told me that art was not a good career choice, so I decided to become a veterinarian,” said McCoy. “When I told my art teachers in high school I was going to school for biology they literally laughed at me, they knew I would be back.”

She took a year’s worth of biology classes before she realized her heart was not in it, and that she still wanted to be an artist.

“I rediscovered art and fell in love with it again. That’s where I really found my stride,” said McCoy.

She feels that art challenged her to come out of her shell, and helped her to become more outgoing. She was so passionate about her artwork, that she decided to go from one degree to two. She will be receiving two degrees this May from the honors college, a Bachelor’s Degree in visual arts education, as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art with a concentration in painting.

One thing about Janice is she is wicked smart, and is too humble to brag. So intelligent, in fact, that she is the only student graduating this year to receive the Angell Scholar for 8 consecutive semesters. This award is bestowed to students who receive an A letter grade in each class for two or more consecutive terms.

Janice has never received a grade below an A in her entire college career. Additionally, she is one of the 13 students to receive the Maize and Blue Award, the highest academic honor given by the university. As an art student, she feels that, as a whole, the art community is looked down upon more than of those who purse a more traditional degree.

“I think people assume art students are automatically weird or not motivated,” shared McCoy.

Something she distantly remembers was when another student in one of her core classes described her major as an “extra-curricular.” McCoy shares she gets frustrated when others look down upon those who are pushing their dreams.

“No matter what field you go into, you should do it because that is what you dream about. You shouldn’t go into what other people tell you is the best choice for you, only you know what’s best for you,” said McCoy.

She has taken her passion for art and Flint and combined the two. She has worked downtown with the Greater Flint Art Council as well as Buckham Gallery to help curate and promote art within the city. She has also helped organize an art festival downtown called Lady Fest Festival, which brings attention to women and art.

“It gives local women the opportunity to showcase their work,” said McCoy.

She has also shown and sold works in several buildings around downtown, including the Ferris Wheel Building. And, of course, I ask her the question one must ask all artists–what does your art say about you?

“I feel like my art is in a transition period,” answered McCoy. “Right now, I’m focused on symbolism and what things mean, how art can affect the viewer.”

She hopes her art can motivate feelings inside of those who view it. McCoy would also love to see herself still living in Flint in five years.

“I’ll go where life takes me, but I have fallen deeply and madly in love with Flint,” said McCoy.

She plans to attend graduate school, but hopes she somehow end back up in Flint. She would love to become a university professor and share her passion of art with students. She thinks that art is something every student should experiment with and learn, regardless of their major.

“Art is culture, there is no separation,” shares McCoy. “Art is what’s left behind when civilization is gone.”