Having grown up on a Mountain and lived in California my entire life, moving to New York was quite a shock. My decision to study art in New York City came as a huge shock to my friends and family around me due to the fact that I had studied music all four years of high school, not taking a single art class. Because of this, attending Parsons this first year has been quite a unique experience. While many of my peers have created art based off of their experiences in New York, I have mainly gained inspiration from looking backwards to my life in California. Most of my work from the first semester was directly related to my life in California, whether that be my home, my friends, or the family that I left there.
Right off the bat, one of my classes changed my life forever. This course was a perfect example of how much a teacher can make a difference on a student’s experience in class. Shari Mendelson, my teacher for Space and Materiality, always inspired me to make my best work and pushed me to think beyond the bounds of any given assignment. This course gave me skills such as laser cutting, wood working, and mold making that I have used in almost all of my other classes this year.
One thing that I have found very interesting about Parsons is how it ties together academic and studio classes. While I feel as though sometimes assignments are really stretched to crossover from an academic class to a studio class (or vice versa), I think that for the most part that it has given me the language and format I need to discuss my art with others. Talking and writing about my art in my seminar classes has been a huge help even in discussing my projects with people from home who are still confused as to why I am doing art.
I always had the best experience with assignments in classes where I had teachers that really pushed me. Even looking back on some classes that made me feel as though I was drowning in work, I had a much better time there than in classes where my teachers seemed much more absent and less invested. For example, I have never particularly enjoyed history, but my Objects as History teacher, Rashmi Viswanathan, made every assignment enjoyable because of the potential she saw and nurtured in all of her students.
The first of two highlights from my freshman year was a plaster cast monument I made in my Space and Materiality class. The idea behind this project was to create a monument for someone particularly important in your life, or someone who had made a great impact on your life. With this in mind, I chose my best friend Myles who is a drummer. In casting my hand for the monument, two of the fingers fell off. While I first planned on recasting the fingers and attaching them after the fact, in discussing with my teacher and peers I planned to work off of the “mistake”. I then decided to make it seem as though the missing fingers had turned to goop and were dripping off of the finger. Moving from the wet lab to the making center, I then created a base for the monument. This project made me realize that some of the best art can spawn from mistakes and that I should never be upset when something unplanned happens to my work.
The second of these highlights would be a product I created for my Studio class this past semester. We were initially given a list of words to create our product based off of, finally deciding on “liquid” and “record”. After going through many different ideas, we decided to create a product called “Vinylware” that would allow users to safely eat off of vinyl records without damaging them or ingesting the plastic. Next, I created an illustrator file and lasercut the product before producing advertisements and a commercial for the product. After presenting this in class to a special guest, I felt very fulfilled because I had done a tremendous amount of work and it seemed to really pay off. I learned a lot from this project, but the biggest takeaway is that it never hurts to do more work than what is asked for. While the commercial was not a required part of the project, it ended up being the best part and I am really glad that I did it.
Going forward, I really want to work with printmaking and risographs to produce my work. I have always been very interested in printmaking, and I think that when paired with digital tools it can produce an incredibly unique result. I already have many ideas for projects solely based off of what I have accomplished this year and cannot wait to learn the skills I need in the coming years to be able to pull them off.