Major at MMC
Yvonne Lamar-Rogers ’06 did not have the “typical” MMC experience, having returned to college to finish her degree in her mid-fifties. Newly married, new to New York City, and battling breast cancer, the multi-media artist was determined to finish her degree despite the obstacles. “The support I received meant so much to me and helped make it possible to persevere,” Lamar-Rogers writes. “My fondest memories at MMC are of the support I received being an older, full-time student undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. I decided when I was diagnosed with breast cancer to not sit around and mope about my condition. I put all the energy I had into my studies…Many of my professors were instrumental in guiding, encouraging, and giving me the individual attention I needed during what was a very difficult time.”
A Detroit, Michigan, native, Lamar-Rogers’ career as an artist began and was nurtured in the culturally-rich arts community that surrounded her. She was particularly impacted by her experiences at Young Artist & Co., a nonprofit fine arts organization for youth in grades K–12. Joyce Ivory, the organization’s founder and director, became a mentor and inspiration to Lamar-Rogers. “She is the woman who taught me to teach art with love, compassion, respect, and joy,” she remembers. Her husband and best friend, Calvin Rogers, has also been a major source of love, encouragement, and support during Lamar-Rogers’ years at MMC and through all of her artistic endeavors since.
Today, Lamar-Rogers runs her own business, Vonnie Made It. Her mixed-media works incorporate collage, printmaking, wet and dry media, photography, clay, and fiber, as well as one-of-a-kind jewelry—wearable art made of recycled paper and semi-precious beads and stones. In addition, Lamar-Rogers is a teaching artist at Union Settlement Association/Washington Community Center, where she leads an after-school art program for children ages 4-11 and provides mixed-media book-making workshops for adults.
Lamar-Rogers recently had her first solo exhibit in almost 20 years, Visual Narratives, at PS 109 El Barrio Art Space in East Harlem, which featured her work from 1991 through the present. This particularly meaningful experience, she explained, signified moving forward, re-introducing herself as an artist, and creating new work with a new vision.
“I’ll be 69 this year,” she says. “But because of my age and the length of time it took me to get my degree—I started college in 1968 and finally graduated in 2006—I have to say: It’s never too late.”
She urges current students to follow their passions and to always look for the learning experience. “Take the time to explore who you are and not focus so much on others’ opinions of you. Believe in yourself, accept challenges, and be willing to do the work to see your dreams become reality.”