Camille O’Connor is one of three students to earn a master’s degree in Moore’s Socially Engaged Art program this spring. She served as the moderator for the April 16 online panel discussion Conversations@Moore: Utilizing Art to Navigate Public Access, along with Sara Kleinert MFA '20 and Chelsey Webber-Brandis MFA '20. As did all Moore students, O’Connor finished her classes at home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Where are you from?

I am originally from Pasadena, California, and moved to the greater Philadelphia area in September 2017.

What are you studying?

I’m studying Socially Engaged Art. Specifically I’m studying collaborative art programs in Philadelphia.

Why did you want to get an MA?

After undergrad, I had the idea that I wanted to go to grad school but I wasn’t sure what my focus would be. When I was still on the west coast I applied to several Art History Masters/PhD dual programs, but they didn’t feel quite right. I love school. I love being a student, especially studying art history. But I knew that I wanted to live and work in the present, and so I couldn’t justify that path for myself. I kept working in the gallery scene in Los Angeles, and when I moved to PA, I felt stuck creatively and professionally. That’s when I revisited the idea of grad school.

How did you come to be at Moore?

I was researching graduate art programs in the area, still unsure of my focus. This program stuck out to me because of its social engagement. I didn’t even really know what that meant at the time, but I was drawn to it because it seemed to speak to everything I was missing in regards to art—both throughout my undergraduate degree, and professionally working the gallery circuit. I was eager to learn more and excited to start a new chapter. I am truly at Moore for this specific program.

How did the virus affect your spring semester at Moore?

Everything moved online after spring break, of course. I’m fortunate as an MA student, not making much art, so I could very easily move all of my work home. But the lack of social engagement—the focus of this program—was challenging. It was tough because my program is a short 10 months. To have the last two unexpectedly moved online, I felt like I had been robbed of a large part of my degree, at first. But everyone in the program, faculty and staff, have been very, very supportive and I don’t feel that way at all anymore. I have to thank Daniel Tucker especially for being very supportive and receptive, consistently asking us what we need and advocating for us as a cohort. The size of our program allowed for a lot of flexibility. We also made the most of this online transition through the creation of our online “lived thesis” panel discussion!

What did you do to cope after having to continue your classes online?

I made an effort to maintain contact with people, both my cohort and personally. Most of my family is in California, and while I don’t live alone, I still spend a lot of my time now, alone. As a social person that’s hard, so I have been making an effort to maintain a sense of community outside of my physical surroundings. It has worked well, honestly, and I am thankful for the time I’ve had to slow down and think about what is actually important to me, academically, professionally, and otherwise.

What do you like about Moore?

What I really love about the SEA program is the sense of community and care. The past year has really blown my mind wide open both to the possibilities I have now moving forward, and also to the thoughts and ideas I want to spend my time reading/writing/thinking about. I am very thankful for this program and all of the faculty and staff who have made it possible.