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News . Feature Stories . Learning to think conceptually

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October 05, 2016

Learning to think conceptually

Q + A with Painting major Xyl Lasersohn

Learning to think conceptually

How did you select your major?
It just took a little self-reflection. I applied to each of the visual arts majors —Painting, Drawing and Printmaking. I got into all three, but that didn’t help me with my decision, so I tried to figure out what I wanted to get out of the experience. I was weakest in painting, so I figured I would go into painting. If you focus on what you’re weak at, you’ll gradually get better at it.

What electives did you take?
I’ve taken two printmaking classes each year, and that has introduced me to a lot of techniques.

Did you find that what you studied in one class affected how you did work in another?
Interdisciplinary effects are inevitable because you are you, and whatever you do influences what you do next. What you do in painting will effect what you do in printmaking. Last year I took a photography class. When you’ve taken a painting class and composed your own paintings, then that greatly affects how you take a photograph. Photography is a curatorial process. When you come from a process of constructing something, you see selecting what’s in a photograph in a very different light.

What have other students contributed to you as an artist?
In general, I think it’s very important to have that student dynamic because we constantly talk to each other and trade tips and techniques outside of the classes. As for one particular moment, I believe it was when one of my paintings was compared to a video game called Myst. It allowed me to think about what I was influenced by. I didn’t play a lot of video games.

What has surprised you about your school career?
I didn’t have too many expectations of what art school is. I was surprised by how little I knew about art history and things like that. I took art classes in high school and they introduced me to thinking about art in a conceptual way, but not in any of the ways CIA does.

Can you explain what you did for your Creativity Works internship?
Creativity Works is an internship program where you write a proposal and it has to involve a community partner. It’s very student-led. Then you collaborate with the community partner to carry out the project.

My project was basically just a one-man show being shown in the Shaker Lakes Nature Center, but I wanted to use the surrounding Shaker Lakes to have an influence on this series of works. One thing that really struck me was all of the wooden paths they have. So I decided to use that as a theme for the work: four paintings, a series of five prints and an outdoor sculpture.

Do you have advice for students who are considering their college options?
Have a plan, figure out what you want to get out of it, and then figure out what school best fits that desire. And do your research. But I just got lucky and picked a good school.

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