Faculty Spotlight: Chloe Epstein

Inspired by 18th century political cartoons presented in her high school U.S. History class, Chloe Epstein, Instructor in Math, delved into the world of editorial cartooning at the beginning of her college career.

Growing up in an artistic family, Epstein was exposed to different genres of art, including drawing, painting and music. Despite ultimately choosing to teach math as a career, Epstein has always had a passion for art.

In high school, she was an art editor and dealt primarily with cartoons and illustrations. Her student publications involvement continued through college after she became an editorial cartoonist for “The Ithacan”, Ithaca College’s newspaper. Even though she no longer cartoons for a specific publication, Epstein manages to maintain a healthy artistic life.

Q: What kinds of art have you been involved in?

A: If I add up all the hours that I’ve invested into every different kinds of visual arts that I’ve tried, cartooning definitely took up most of those hours. Out of the eight terms I spent in Ithaca College, I was the newspaper’s cartoonist for seven [terms]. However, I haven’t pursued cartooning in a serious fashion since college. Without an active role in a publication or a pending deadline, I focused on other things like my graduate studies. I was able to keep up with martial arts to a fair degree in grad school, but the only thing that ever came close to art was sketches of graph theory diagrams. In recent years, I’ve made efforts to improve at photography.

Q: How did this interest with art develop?

A: Ever since I was a child, I’ve always loved drawing with markers and watching the ink sink into the paper fibers. I grew up in a very artistic household, so art was a constant presence in my house. My mother paints, and both of my older brothers are professional artists today. Other than visual arts, I also took piano and cello lessons when I was younger.

Q: How did you get involved with cartooning?

A: I began studying political cartoons in news magazines and my hometown’s newspaper to see the way cartoonists deliver as much meaning as possible through the simplest drawings. The 18th century political cartoons I studied in my AP U.S. History class also became inspirations. Strangely, my first cartoons were actually drawn for that class as means to understand the material better.

Q: How do you balance these artistic interests with the more mathematical, analytical side of your personality?

A: The analytical part allows me to pick out patterns in creative endeavors such as the structure of a piece of music and the symmetry in a work of art. The artistic side of me allows me to appreciate the beautiful things in math, such as elegant graphs and three dimensional shapes.

Q: What is the reason behind the decision to pursue a career in math instead of art?

A: Even though art was really fun for me, I’ve always known that I didn’t want art to be a professional endeavor. When I tried to picture what I wanted to do for work everyday and pictured myself in an art studio, I just couldn’t see myself in that studio. However, when I thought of being a math teacher, I thought, “That’s the best idea ever.” My interest in math developed relatively late. I knew I’d go into either science, technology, engineering or mathematics. However, I didn’t know specifically that I’d be a high school math teacher until graduate school. My senior year of high school was my first year of calculus, and I fell in love with it. I had an interest in teaching, so I put those two ideas together.