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Archive for June, 2011

Mac seeks PC input

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Flipping through my college’s alumni magazine, I came across a letter from President Michael Roth, who coincidently became the president at Wesleyan a few years ago after leaving his post as president at California College of the Arts, where I’m now a painting student. Roth discusses a debate currently framing higher education: the importance of science training versus liberal arts. He writes that these two sides are embodied by Microsoft founder Bill Gates who values the sciences and engineering, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who prioritizes the arts, humanities and design. Roth asks, “So what is education, PC or Mac?”

Roth proposes that it’s not so black and white. Instead, he insists that the key to our future success will be to integrate the disciplines, and he offers that Wesleyan has seen some intense creative work with programs that link the sciences, arts and humanities. He asks us to consider thinking of education not so much as a tool to increase our income, but rather as a platform that inspires us to generate further curiosity; something that energizes us and continues to shape our lives in ways that we may not have necessarily imagined at the beginning. Getting back to the Mac vs. PC debate, he writes, “Successful education is a platform of lifelong learning from which new possibilities are created, and that works for both PCs and Macs.”

Although I’ve never been a “PC,” I took a class last semester that integrated art and science. My peers in the class included jewelry/metal artists, graphic designers, industrial designers, photographers and fashion designers, and together we put on a show to display our science-inspired art projects. The show was really fun — we had it in an industrial-feeling space off-campus in Oakland. I chose climate change as my topic and made a painting based on the book CO2 rising: The World’s Greatest Environmental Challenge by Tyler Volk. I enjoyed deepening my understanding of my topic through research. It seemed to open a window for more creative thought for me, and I liked painting something that went beyond just my imagination. I’m posting some photos of the show, my painting, the graph that inspired my painting, the poster that I designed for the show, and my artist statement for my painting.

Artist Statement: Humans do not have the ability to sense carbon dioxide. To us, it is an odorless, colorless gas. However, by analyzing air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice and by testing air from an observatory on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano, scientists have discerned that the amount of carbon dioxide molecules in our atmosphere remained relatively steady over time, until it increased dramatically with our Industrial Revolution in 1850. This painting shows how today we live our lives in a way that is changing the composition of our atmosphere even though we cannot sense it without scientific data.

Bittersweet end of the Semester

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

The end of the semester is always so bittersweet. There’s so much joy in appreciating the new perspective you’ve gained from the semester’s studies, putting the heavy book you’ve been lugging around to its final resting place on your bookshelf, and letting yourself get some rest, too, now that your assignments are complete and you no longer need to zip around from class to class. At the same time, there’s a sadness in that you’ll miss the community you’ve built with your peers and professors throughout the semester.

I find the end of the semester to be particularly poignant at art school, as every teacher in my studio art classes seems to turn into a motivational speaker during the last weeks of class. The most extreme was my professor Mark from my first fall semester who put us through a sort of drawing boot camp, where he acted like a drill sergeant or a football coach, quick to criticize and let us know when we were being lazy. It wasn’t until the last two weeks of class that he let it slip that some of us had talent, and that it was our duty to share this special gift of ours with the world.

I had three painting classes this past spring semester where the teachers sent us off with parting reflections and pressed us to pursue our artistic careers. If I wasn’t living in the murky shadow of the 15-page paper due on the last day of classes that I had procrastinated to the point of discomfort, I probably would have burst into tears of joy during the final critique for each of my painting classes. I’m posting images from my Color Workshop class, where we displayed all the assignments and exercises we had done for the class, and then stood up and presented our work to the class. One student who I thought was exceptionally talented, soft-spoken and rather shy came up to me afterwards and told me that my work was really good that that I should definitely continue painting.