Art for art’s sake: Students explore creativity outside the classroom
If there is one thing that Washington University does not have a shortage of, it’s talented students (some of whom are probably surrounding you at this very moment).
Students here do all kinds of creative things outside of class, just for themselves and the sake of creating.
Jonathan Muehlke is a senior majoring in Chinese in the school of Arts & Sciences as well as painting in the Art School. The mediums he most enjoys working with are drawing, painting and photography.
“Currently, I am interested in the experiential nature of images through portraiture, narrative and abstract,” said Muehlke. “My work also has to do with my identity as a person of mixed-race heritage. I also do printmaking and digital photography.”
While Muehlke has always enjoyed drawing, he only began formal art training in his junior year of high school. Encouragement and support were supplied by his parents, while, “being alive, observing the world and experiencing things” are his inspirations.
“Sometimes you have these unforgettable ‘wow’ moments in life,” said Muehlke.
Muehlke has had to make some sacrifices in order to juggle school and creativity. He finds that if he surrounds himself with other artists, however, he is more likely to keep it up.
His advice to the other artists out there: “Follow your heart, keep an open mind and challenge everything you’ve been taught.”
You can find Muehlke’s work at the Thru the Artist’s Eyes gallery in Lincoln, N.H., or online at www.flickr.com/photos/jmwarez.
Another student, nicknamed “the one-take wonder,” is sophomore film major and creative writing minor, Robert Panico.
Panico made his first movie when he was old enough to hold a camera – literally.
At age five, his father assisted him in the production of stop-animation films featuring Legos. Since then, he has moved on to live action films in the genres of horror, comedy and drama.
“Drama is the most meaningful,” he said, “because more of the art of storytelling is in this [genre]; it’s more personal.”
From script-writing to directing to acting to composing the musical score, Panico does it all. Panico gains his inspiration mostly from things he observes in real life.
“I don’t want to sound cheesy saying life is beautiful, but it really is. I like to capture it,” he said.
The school year does not allow Panico enough time to film full-length features, but he is constantly planning for his next projects by writing scripts and mapping out the visuals. This way, he is ready for filming come winter and summer break.
Check out Panico’s comedy website www.whatthemaynard.com or www.scorpiusproductions.com for his more serious works. You could also go to www.youtube.com and search the term ‘whatthemaynard’ for faster downloads.
Panico’s advice to other artists is, “learn your film history,” and have a good story.
“Film is basically an art of storytelling. Ancient people told stories around campfires and we’re telling stories on the silver screen.”
Sophomore Aaron Shapiro has also been on the art scene for a long time.
“[I started] when I was four years old; I don’t know. When is it that you start making drawings when you’re a little kid?” mused Shapiro.
Shapiro works with all dry and wet mediums, but his favorites are colored pencil, charcoal and chicken wire. He credits his inspiration to his high school art teacher who was a friend and mentor. Shapiro’s biggest challenges in art have been balancing his time between art and other studies.
“It’s easy to just focus on one or the other,” said Shapiro. “I [worried about making things perfect] in high school, but now sometimes I’m working for a deadline.”
Being in the art school has given him the opportunity to do what he loves as a part of school.
“Do what your heart tells you, but realize you’ll be doing it until four in the morning, probably in the art school,” advised Shapiro. “Invest in bikes and sleeping bags.”
Aaron’s work can be seen in the 3-D studio, and is also displayed in the Wheeler 3070 Gallery.
So as you walk by your fellow classmates, or see people sketching or filming around campus, remember that not everyone does it for the grade.
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