Reiker Dean ’20 — Chasing After His Dream of Becoming an Artist

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Reiker Dean ’20 is a graduate student at Ohio University on a full-ride scholarship. He is currently in his second year of a three-year program working toward a Master of Fine Arts in painting and drawing. He also currently works for the university by instructing undergraduate classes, and in the fall of this year, he will start teaching figure drawing courses. A graduate degree and teaching experience will help Reiker prepare for his ultimate goal of becoming a career artist and teaching at the collegiate level.

Reiker is originally from Youngsville, North Carolina, and decided to come to Olivet due to a unique family tie with the College. Reiker’s mom, Amy (Gardner) Dean, was a member of the Class of 1992. “After meeting with the faculty in my area, I knew that Olivet was for me. I liked the small class sizes, the one-on-one experiences and the financial support that OC offered me,” Reiker said.

While a student at Olivet, Reiker was a visual arts major with concentrations in studio art and biological illustration. He also held two leadership roles as the president of Alpha Lambda Epsilon, a co-ed Greek society, and the vice president of Art Alliance, a student group focused on promoting the arts on campus and beyond. He was also a member of the President’s Leadership Institute.


“Being involved in multiple leadership positions as an undergraduate student helped me develop confidence and problem solving abilities that I now use every day,” Reiker said. “Olivet also gave me technical art skills along with leadership training that helped inspire me to pursue a graduate degree. Without the training and mentorship of professors Donald VanAuken, Gary Wertheimer and Thia Eller, I would not be able to pursue the dreams I am pursuing now.”

Reiker also mentioned that the connections he made while a student at Olivet have continued to support him personally and professionally since graduating. He said this is a big plus, especially for a young artist. “Even though I am out of state, many of the people closest to me are still in my life and I get to see them regularly. My significant other went to Olivet as well, and we also live with two of our best friends that went there,” Reiker said.

Reiker said that his current favorite piece of artwork is the most recent one he painted, which is titled “SANIC+STIMULANTS_MS.PAINT.” “It’s a painted three-dimensional construction that appropriates internet aesthetics and language to communicate nuanced ideas of dark humor, digitally v. reality and contemporary coping mechanisms,” Reiker explained.

Reiker knows his journey as an artist is still just beginning. He’s excited to continue enhancing his skills in painting and drawing while gaining new experience in teaching and much more. “Currently, my main focus is finishing my graduate degree. Next year will be my thesis year and I will be focusing on producing enough work to have a solo exhibit. I also plan to branch out to bigger art scenes as well,” Reiker said.

Regardless of where Reiker’s path takes him, he is positive he will remain connected with The University of Olivet. “The thing I miss most about OC is Alpha E. Being surrounded by my brothers and sisters every day was truly some of the most fun I’ve had in my entire life,” Reiker added.

Learn more about The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admission at 269-749-7635 or admissions@uolivet.edu.

This piece was written by Julia Bidelman, a senior majoring in journalism and mass communication. She serves as an intern in the marketing and communications department and is especially interested in social media. After graduation, Julia plans to continue her work as a content creator, photographer and social media manager, and she hopes to work in the field of social media for a small business or nonprofit organization.


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