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News . Feature Stories . A whole new world: Q + A with Biomedical Art major Sabrina Thi

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September 09, 2014

A whole new world: Q + A with Biomedical Art major Sabrina Thi

What's your earliest memory of making art?

My earliest memory of making art is sitting in our family-owned restaurant and doodling a horse. I was about five years old and my father took one look and flat-out told me that what I was drawing didn’t look anything close to a horse. He then drew out and explained to me anatomy and curves of how a general horse looks, and when I drew a horse for an assignment in class that week, I was the one with the best drawing. All my classmates marveled at how much my horse actually looked like a horse and that was the best feeling, really; just being told that my drawing was good and no one had to take wild stabs in the dark when guessing what I was trying to make.

Did you take a lot of art classes in high school?

Yes. I took nearly all the classes my high school had to offer in terms of visual art, like drawing, painting, and some advanced concepts and methods classes as well.

Why did you choose to attend an art + design school?

At first, I actually was very against going to an art and design school; the way that I had seen it as a high schooler was that I wanted nothing more than to go to a large, liberal arts college and simply major in the art program there and have a “normal” college experience. I just had a couple of art and design schools thrown in with my applications because my family and friends urged me to do so. But as I got closer and closer to choosing a university, I realized that a school geared specifically towards art would really care about whether I improved in my craft or not and that they would give me the best education and equip me with the tools needed to navigate the design world after graduation.

What made you choose CIA?

The location and the size of the school were major factors. Being located in University Circle in Cleveland, we’re within barely a 10-minute walk to so many different resources such as art museums and botanical gardens, as well as social hubs like Little Italy. The small and intimate size of CIA also ensures one of the best resources at your disposal: time spent on you. Because of the small class sizes, professors and class critiques ensure that the maximum amount of time is being spent evaluating each student’s art and giving him or her feedback on their strong suits and also where they may need work. This really allows for a lot of troubleshooting to be done so that you can become a really well rounded individual in your practice.

What made you choose your major?

I came to CIA with the goal in mind to major in some sort of integrated media field (illustration, animation, game design, etc.) During my freshman year, was where I really found what made me gravitate towards biomedical art. Through the open-ended projects, I came to realize that much of my work was created with the goal in mind to educate, especially about the sciences, which I had come to start to miss in my first year of art school. Coming to CIA and learning about the Biomedical Art program also opened up a whole new world for me. I had never even known that such a major existed and I felt the need to jump at the chance to work in the field of scientific illustration, especially which some of the best resources at our disposal at CIA for this particular major (the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, University Hospitals, and the Cleveland Clinic, to name a few). Especially after realizing how much I missed the sciences, biomedical art just really seemed to be the logical choice for me.

Is having your own studio important to your education? And how about interaction with classmates, is that important to your education?

Having a studio space really does help education and work ethic. It gives you a space to call your own that you can reserve for work time and only work time so that you become naturally inclined to be productive whenever you’re in your studio. As for interaction with my classmates, it’s great to have your peers around you so that you can get some fresh insights to your work and quickly ask for advice. Especially if you’ve been staring at your project for six hours straight, having some fresh eyes really help to renew your own view of your work.

How are your relationships with CIA faculty different than your relationships with your high school teachers?

In high school, you’re forced to call your teachers “Mr. Smith” and “Ms. Doe,” and there is no mistake that they are your teacher and you are the student. At CIA, the professor and student relationship is still there, but the relationship reflects a business setting at times. You’ll call most of your professors by their first name and while they are teaching you and you are still learning, you are also experiencing what it would be to be in an employer/employee relationship as well. You realize that your professors aren’t just “teachers” but also people that you can have conversations with and be relaxed around.

Have you had any internships? If so, where and how did you like it?

I had an internship at the Dittrick Museum of Medical History for a summer, during which I helped design an exhibit for a specific class of medical instruments. It was a great experience to work with the museum personnel to learn about the “behind the scenes” of a museum and apply research and design skills that I had learned at CIA in a professional setting.

What one thing about the CIA experience surprised you the most?

I had no idea what to expect when going into an art school when it came to workload or course work. Coming into CIA was somewhat overwhelming in the first few weeks as I had to adjust from working in math workbooks and answering worksheets every night to varying degrees of creating a work of art almost every night or pace myself to work on a month-long project in a productive manner. It took some getting used to, but I quickly became a better artist because the workload forced me to reevaluate how I managed my time. It feels extremely natural now.

How do you like Cleveland?

I quite like Cleveland. It’s a city that’s not so busy that you can’t walk around without bumping some stranger’s shoulder, but it’s also not too quiet that there’s never anything to do. It feels like a good balance in general.

What would you say to a high school student considering attending CIA?

Really evaluate what you want from your education and college experience. If you find that you want to learn and grow quickly, get noticed in your classes for your work and what you have to offer and don’t disappear in the back of a crowd. And if you want a school and professors that care about your education and where you go after graduation, then CIA is the place for you.

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CIA alumna Josette Galiano’s passion lies in exploring behavior and designing immersive experiences. Fittingly, she’s a consumer insights analyst at @NottinghamSpirk​ and a designer at Florette by Josette​. https://t.co/wZXjKV9ECU

about 8 hours ago via Twitter

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