Jason Knutson '13

Art and Math

Jason Knutson chose to attend Luther because of the opportunity to pursue his many interests in art, tennis, math and music without compromise. His sophomore year, he travelled to Nicaragua on a J-term abroad to study the Central American ceramic art tradition. During his time abroad, the polarization of his experiences with water and sanitation became a driving influence behind his sculpture and pottery work. Upon graduation, he chose to act on his growing passion for sanitation and global water availability by pursuing his Masters of Engineering in Environmental Engineering at MIT. He recently returned from Ghana where he conducted fieldwork for his thesis—an evaluation of innovative sanitation technologies in Ghana.

Did you come to Luther College with the intention of majoring in Art?

I came to Luther with the intention of double majoring in art and math in order to prepare myself to apply for a Masters of Architecture program. Although I changed my career path to Environmental Engineering, I did complete both my math and art degrees. I never once considered changing my major because art became a part of me at Luther and the program exceeded my expectations. The quality of facilities, variety and quantity of opportunities and individual attention offered allowed each student to maximize his/her unique talents and achieve his/her potential with time and effort.

What led you where you are now after Luther? How does your Art major inform your career, or how did it help you get to where you are?

I was led to environmental engineering through my experiences with potters in Nicaragua during a J-Term abroad. My art background is a bit of an oddity in my field, and I am asked how it informs my career quite often at MIT. I believe my love for the creative process is what separates me from my fellow engineers. To me, creativity is a curiosity about life or the world and how we can change it, something that is absolutely necessary not only to create art but also to innovate and solve problems from an engineering standpoint.

What is the most valuable thing you took away from studying art at Luther?

The Art Department provided me with the most transforming experiences of my life, and the self-examination intrinsic to the creative process that is encouraged at Luther led me to realize my genuine passion and gain the courage to pursue it.

What advice would you give to an art student at Luther today?

My advice to an art student at Luther today is to allow yourself to be vulnerable and genuine as you approach your art. Be entirely open and extroverted about your work; you will maximize your progress as an artist and will be amazed at what the faculty and your classmates have to offer if you let them in.