It started for her as a young child, fascinated by Tim Burton at the age of two.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” was a new movie that was entirely different from anything else Whitney Goller had previously seen.

“[Tim Burton] has a message about identity and figuring out who you are and what that means,”  Goller said.

That theme of self exploration and the importance of one’s individual identity has greatly influenced her art work.

A graduate student at ETSU, Goller chose to come here instead of Ireland’s Burren College of Art largely due to scholarships and a chance to work closely with an artist whose work she has admired: Andrew Scott Ross.

“I attended the University of Findlay and received a BA in Visual Art. I’m currently working toward my MFA in Studio Art,” said Goller.

Goller paints and does fibers. The majority of her day, as a graduate student, is spent teaching in class, or in her studio.

In her downtime, she often watches shows such as “American Horror Story”, “Downton Abbey”, or “Doctor Who.” Those times are spent multitasking between watching the show in front of her and embroidering her latest project.

“I’m actually really looking forward to being part of more shows and opportunities once I finish my thesis show,” Goller said.

The thesis show is the second Friday in February and is required for all art graduates.

Goller’s latest ideas involve temporary dollhouses that “can be left around town in various locations.”

“I’m just very interested in creating a sort of magical experience for people,” says Goller. “I do art because I must. Some people feel called to biology, some to criminal justice, etc. . . I feel called to make art and to, at least, attempt to make a difference in the way people view the world.”

Her advice to other future graduate art students is this: “In my experience, it means throwing yourself into something fully, failing repeatedly, seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, tripping a lot on the way to it, then hopefully emerging at the end.” Goller explains,  “It means working and trying new things and new perspectives until you figure out what yours truly is. But mostly working. Constantly.”