Laura Cain


Laura Cain, who just graduated, majored in art and education as an honors college student at Rutgers University–Camden.

Nick Romanenko

Laura Cain’s oil paintings portray nature as aspects of the human experience—light as empowerment, essential to happiness; water as transformation, such as waterfalls washing away sadness; and nudity as self-awareness or acceptance. Cain CCAS’16, who majored in art and education as an honors college student, has had her work exhibited in Philadelphia and Miami. Last summer, Cain, of Mantua, New Jersey, was given the opportunity to visit Iceland for an experiential learning course that was closely related to the core of her work: self-identity.

Through the Rutgers University–Camden Learning Abroad program, Cain joined 15 students of diverse majors—including economics, psychology, and sociology—to become immersed in the beauty of the Icelandic terrain. Taken during the summer before her senior year, the 12-day course, “Drawing Our Own Rules in Nature,” was led by Cain’s mentor, Margery Amdur, associate professor of art at Rutgers–Camden. Amdur used Iceland’s breathtaking scenery to show how one’s “internal landscape” of thoughts, feelings, and identity can be affected by his or her external landscape, and vice versa. Cain’s learning abroad experience was supported by the Jack and Mary O’Malley Endowed Fund for Academic Excellence, to which donors Jack RC’59 and Mary O’Malley have given $160,000 since 2005, and through which 29 students have benefited so far.

Cain, who will be student teaching in the fall with the goal of becoming a high school art teacher, says the course not only enhanced her art, but also taught her lessons to impart to her future students. “The trip helped us build self-identity and empowerment by recognizing everyday beauty,” she says. “You can teach and integrate that creative experience into students’ daily lives. It’s really a lesson for everyone.”