A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.


Continuing Studies course inspires Zosia Alexandra Carden to pursue graduate studies

by Brontë Mansfield (MA 2017)

Zosia Alexandra Carden. Photo: Grace DuVal (MDes 2015)

“In my country, if you tell your father that you want to be an artist, you will be a big drain,” Zosia Alexandra Carden explains. “He didn’t allow me to go to art school. I had to study engineering. But I didn’t give up.” Born in Poland in the 1960s, Carden says that many people there wanted to make art, but “we knew that the art might be compromised because it could be regulated by the government. When you make art, you want to feel free to do or say anything.”

Seeking political asylum, Carden and her husband moved to the United States more than three decades ago. “At that time Poles lived with curfews, dead phone lines, censored personal mail, and armed troops on the streets,” she explains. In Chicago she worked and raised her two sons. Recently, she watched them pursue graduate education. “I was so jealous.” Then she realized she could have the same opportunity. In 2016, Carden enrolled in SAIC’s Continuing Studies program and began working with instructor in the Contemporary Practices department Megan Euker (BFA 2005, MFA 2007).


At the beginning of each class, Euker asks why students are there. “The answers from the older population are ‘I always did art,’ and then they either had to work or have kids, and they always felt like something was missing,” Euker says. This was an opportunity for Carden—who was typically reserved—to fill up a room with her art and her presence. “She was very quiet some of the time, but when it was her chance to have a platform, she’d bring in these giant paintings and fill an entire room with them. She had a fearlessness about her,” says Euker. “[Euker] was the right person to push me a little bit farther,” Carden says. “And then I would explode.”

After her experiences with Euker and Continuing Studies, Carden enrolled in SAIC’s Low-Residency MFA program, where she is surrounded by students of all ages, nationalities, and life experiences. For Carden, the time before art school was a countdown until her creative life and daily life could become one and the same.

Learn more about Continuing Studies courses for youth, teens, and adults at saic.edu/cs.