BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University alumna Juliet Irving ’19 has danced her way into a freelance career as a multimedia designer, combining her passions — performing arts, graphic design and social justice.
As a dancer and choreographer, an artist and a social justice advocate, Irving used her blended perspective to design a website for a cross-cultural dance collective, Indigo Yard Gals; a virtual exhibition titled Black Lives Matter: Brazil–U.S.A.; and virtual sets for a production of the Shakespeare play “The Tempest” — featuring directors, actors and crew members who are people of color, including Black and Indigenous individuals.
“The artists and dancers I’ve worked with have an appreciation for someone who can come in and immediately understand their needs and priorities. I know their vocabulary, and we share a language,” Irving said.
Irving said she never expected to work in website design, but her experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic awakened new interests and helped her hone new skills, by necessity.
After graduating from App State, she attended Duke University, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts in dance. While there, she had the opportunity to consult as a designer for the Black Lives Matter: Brazil–U.S.A. exhibition — an examination of parallels in the pursuit of racial justice between the two Western Hemisphere countries with the largest Afro-descended populations.
“It was intended to be a walk-through gallery experience,” Irving said. “Then COVID happened. We had to turn everything into a virtual exhibition.”
With the shift to online delivery, Irving said she transferred ideas designed for print into digital forms and worked for the first time on a large-scale website. Since, she has expanded her work in the field and has designed websites and virtual materials for a number of clients.
Making her mark at App State
Irving, who was a member of App State’s Honors College, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design and a Bachelor of Arts in dance studies. While attending App State, Irving:
- Served on the Chancellor’s Student Advisory Board for Diversity Recruitment.
- Performed and choreographed work for App State’s Momentum Dance Club Showcase and for mainstage productions by the Department of Theatre and Dance.
- Worked as a gallery ambassador at App State’s Turchin Center for the Visual Arts and the Smith Gallery.
- Studied visual art for a semester in Australia for her Honors College international experience.
- Was a member of the 2014 group of Wilson Scholars and traveled to Paris with her scholar peers to learn about the feminist movement in France.
Irving said dance has always been part of her life. “Growing up, dance gave me a voice and felt like the most natural way for me to express myself,” she shared.
While in high school, she enrolled in a Photoshop course. “I liked it so much that I asked my instructor what careers might use those skills. He told me about graphic design,” she said.
She looked for a university with strong programs in both performing arts and graphic design and found App State. She scheduled a visit, and the moment she stepped foot on campus, it “just felt right,” Irving said.
Earning the Wilson Scholarship made it possible for Irving to attend App State — an out-of-state school for the South Carolina native — and opened many doors for her.
During her senior year, Irving learned about an inaugural master’s program at Duke University.
“The graphic design and dance programs at App State laid the foundation for the interdisciplinary work I completed during my master’s program at Duke,” Irving said.
“It makes such a difference having just one person believe in you,” Irving reflected. “But having multiple people back you up? It was life-changing.”
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About the Department of Theatre and Dance
The Department of Theatre and Dance is one of seven departments housed in Appalachian’s College of Fine and Applied Arts. Its mission is to facilitate transformative experiences for students and the public, which cultivate compassionate, creative and collaborative communities through theatre and dance. The department also offers coursework for integrated learning through the arts to the general university student population. Its dynamic co-curricular production program provides exemplary theatre and dance experiences to departmental students, the university community and the region. Learn more at https://theatreanddance.appstate.edu.
About the Department of Art
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Art at Appalachian State University prepares students to explore art, identity, expression and creative problem-solving while challenging them to go beyond their previous limits by discovering new connections to culture. The department offers degrees in art and visual culture, art education, graphic design, studio art, photography and graphic communications management, with minors in art history, studio art, photography and graphic communications management. Learn more at https://art.appstate.edu.
About the College of Fine and Applied Arts
Appalachian State University’s College of Fine and Applied Arts is a dynamic and innovative group of seven academic departments, bringing together a variety of perspectives, experiences and real-world education to provide unique opportunities for student success. The college has more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate majors. Its departments are Applied Design, Art, Communication, Military Science and Leadership, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, and Theatre and Dance. Learn more at https://faa.appstate.edu.
About the Honors College
More than 500 students are enrolled in Appalachian State University's Honors College, which serves a diverse group of high-achieving, high-potential, highly motivated students from all majors. The Honors College helps students develop independent and creative thinking and high-level research skills; promotes interdisciplinary inquiry; and nurtures cultured and caring exchanges of ideas. The college’s enhanced academic experience prepares students for success in graduate or professional school and for leadership roles in their lives, communities and careers. Learn more at https://honors.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.