Having spent a little over a month at the New School as a BAFA Lang/Parsons student taking classes and experiencing New York City in entirely new ways, I can safely and confidently assert that I am loving the academic as well as social and community-based aspects of my chosen university and the surrounding city. In short, I am adoring my classes and my professors, and am grateful for the opportunities I have been given so far to excel. These aforementioned circumstances and more have caused me to reflect, in these last couple of days, on the classes I have taken themselves, and any “intertextual” or interdisciplinary relation I can find between all of them, or at the very least some. In my mind, part of the college experience is learning about the relationships between ideas, concepts, subjects, perspectives, and viewpoints from different peoples of different backgrounds, on different events, and from seemingly abstract or distant disciplines of scholarship and erudition. As of today, I have found and discovered for myself several relationships among my Drawing and Imaging class, my Intro Studio and Seminar class, my Exploring Mathematics and Art class, and my class on Don Quixote (3000 level, but extremely interesting, rich in content, and fun).
To begin with the obvious, I have noticed over time that my Intro Studio 1: Avatar class, and my Intro Seminar 1: Avatar class (of the same subject) complement and build off of each other extremely well. Whether both classes were designed this way to help students increase both their abilities to express themselves visually and linguistically, or whether the curricula-based relations between the two classes are now merely coincidental and nothing more, I am uncertain (but I willing to gamble on the former scenario being more true and likely than the latter). Both of my Intro Avatar classes so far have taught me how to express myself and different ideas and concepts in different ways. One class takes advantage of digital media/multimedia, and physical fabrics, textiles, or drawing materials in order to allow students like me to depict or create expressions of ideas in visual form (often times relating back to ourselves or our society and culture in general, to put things broadly), while another class uses abstract concepts often found scattered in the esoteric, lofty, and philosophical research papers of professors, or in the poetry and essays of notable writers and sociological thinkers in order to enable us students to write response papers that provide our own thoughts and perspectives on diaphanous topics with metaphysical applications to the real world. In either case, I love both classes because I am learning how to question the world around me, and see myself in relation to my environment with newer and newer sets of lens. The aforementioned concepts, ultimately, constitute the core philosophies and essences of the Intro classes themselves– suitable preparation for us undergraduates in anticipation of future college-level work.
Moving on to more obvious relationships between my classes and what I am learning in them, my Mathematics and Art class, intriguingly enough, is helping me, either consciously or subconsciously, to excel in my Drawing and Imaging class due to the relationship mathematics and the visual arts have to one another, and how the mastery of one can bolster one’s performance in the other (at the very least somewhat). Because art is at its core the association and tesselation of abstract forms and geometric shapes, it would be reasonable to conclude that the preciseness and technique of drawing, shading, and viewing geometric shapes, lines, and forms that I am just now improving upon and perfecting in my Drawing and Imaging class is directly allowing me to look upon mathematics and its physical/geometric manifestations in much the same way, and to create more minimalistic, accurate, visually and aesthetically pleasing pieces of art that reflect abstract concepts (similar to how drawing still lifes, the human form, and conceptual art permits one to make sense of abstract forms). My Exploring Mathematics and Art class also relates to my Drawing and Imaging class, and additionally, to my Intro Studio class, as all three courses use similar software and computer applications from Adobe Creative Cloud for different purposes. Students from my Drawing and Imaging class (myself included) utilize Photoshop quite often to refine the appearance and contrast of their drawings or change their colors and hues for aesthetic and presentational quality. Students from our Mathematics and Art class also occasionally use drawing software for certain projects as do students from my Intro Studio class (Illustrator and Photoshop are used often for the creation of visual media).
Relating to specific assignments, I recall that my Personal Flag Project for my Intro Studio class and one of my Visualization Projects for my Math and Art class relate to each other quite well in principle– both have to do with expressing myself, albeit in slightly different ways (one in terms of visual art, the other in terms of mathematics still erring towards visual representation). In addition, my Intro Seminar relates to self-expression through my Self-Portrait assignment– but what enmeshes all three works together is the concept of me seeing myself as a “cube” with many faces or aspects that converge into one whole. Cubes are obviously mathematically appealing shapes and were the polyhedral basis for my final Personal “Flag” Project, in which I drew on each face some conceptual art piece that represented a part of me and my persona. They were also mentioned in my Self-Portrait assignment for my Intro Seminar class. Assignment-wise, the above demonstrates the interdisciplinary nature of what I am creating and learning in my classes, with more examples of this “intertextuality” between courses to come in the future. The above assignments also demonstrate the relationships between concepts and ideas I use and have used for my projects between classes thus far.
I have until now, not said a single word about my Don Quixote class and how it could possibly be tethered to my more visual and design-oriented classes that relate more to art, expression, and writing. But, believe me, this amazing junior level (3000 level) class does, in fact, relate academically to what I am learning in my other courses. And how, you may ask, is this even fathomable? The answer is simple: Don Quixote himself as a character and what he represents is integral to what I am learning in my Intro classes and my Drawing classes. Don Quixote is the epitome of idealism and “bookish” scholarly knowledge which directly connects to the scholarly, often idealistic, and dare I say, quixotic nature of my Intro lessons, both in Studio and in Seminar in regards to the social contexts of our artistic pieces and how they depict the perfect society or the type of world we want to live in. Much like how Don Quixote the novel debunks the conventions of chivalrous books and establishes itself as the first “modern” novel with characters from all social classes (and round ones with personalities and defining qualities to boot) dispersed throughout the masterpiece, so do the pieces of writing and art I learn about or create in my Intro classes and my Drawing class often challenge conventional norms and bring old ideas and concepts into the modern age. In my Drawing and Imaging class, in particular, when my classmates and I learned about the history of Impressionistic Art and of art in the Renaissance (and about the Medici family who commissioned artists like Brunescelli and Michaelangelo, we learned how Impressionism revolutionized and broke the conventions of art up until that point centering around fantasy and mythology/religion, and how Brunescelli, much like Cervantes, had genius ideas in architecture (due to him coming up with a way to build an unsupported dome on top of the Florentine cathedral) as Cervantes had genius ideas in the conventions of literature. If this wasn’t enough, one of the faces I drew as part of my Personal “Flag” Project from before depicted the secret warrior inside of me who fights for justice– an idealistic, quixotic figure blinded by righteousness in the face of corruption (a part of me I have known very well since I was young– a figure I now realize is inspired by St. Gabriel the Angel and Don Quixote at the same time). One of the required readings I had to do for my Intro Seminar class even talked about Don Quixote in great detail and his relation to how fiction creates fact and suggests multiple realities (Nelson Goodman, Ways of Worldmaking).
It is evident now that my classes and my experiences interlock and interrelate with one another conceptually, ideally, and academically. What I am learning in my some of my freshman year courses bear relationships to the topics I am learning about in others. In this way, my first year at the New School has been a very wholesome experience for me, and has favored my love for the exchange of interdisciplinary ideas for the creation of artistic or literary projects. Ever since I first stepped into the halls of this school, the ways I used to think about the world have been transmuted by the lessons I have learned in my classes to the point that my thoughts on the world and how I perceive it have become only more philosophical. Classes like my Don Quixote class and my Intro Seminar class, with all of the abstract, sometimes difficult readings have ultimately paved the way for my learning more about myself, who I am, and how I enmesh with the world around me. College is, after all, a journey towards self-discovery.