Like the other 72 adults who have earned a Master of Liberal Arts degree at Stanford, Alice Carter did not sign up because she was twiddling her thumbs at home. A professor of illustration and animation at San Jose State University, she was juggling a full-time career with a demanding freelance business, and the youngest of her three children was only 3 when she was accepted as a graduate student in 1991, the year the MLA was launched.
Carter enrolled because she had a compelling idea she wanted to research—and write a compelling book about. "I'd read books other artists had written and they sounded like artists writing books," she recalls.
The paper Carter submitted for the first seminar taught her a lot about organization: "I quickly learned that I needed to get some structure before I plunged into writing. And I also learned that I needed merciless criticism."
By the time she graduated in 1997, Carter had revised her thesis many times over. Earlier this year her story of three women who made their marks as commercial illustrators and painters in early 20th-century Philadelphia was published as The Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love (Henry Abrams).
The book already has drawn complimentary reviews from the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Carter is now getting calls from other publishers. Prize work for a first-time artist-author.