Four (more) people you might have met in the elevator.
January 15, 2019
Ana: I work with disability. What I’m trying to do is figure out what disability actually means, how disability is represented, and if that representation matches the lived experiences of people with disabilities. I work with video, drawings, and some printmaking. I came to grad school because I wanted to work in disability studies, with a focus on Mexico. Most of the theories that are written about disability studies are written in English, from the perspective of the United States and of Europe. I think Latin America is in a different … not stage, but different things are going on there. I want to put this theory together with reality. I hope to keep working on that for the next few years. I’m also currently in the early stages of a project called ‘contra el certificado de discapacidad,’ in which I try to break down the taxonomy of disability that is made by a world-held organization. The words that define disability, we don’t really know what they mean.
Valerie: Design stresses me out, even though it's a lot of fun. I write essays to take a break from architecture. So, I’m thinking of going into academia after SAIC but recently, mental health has come to my attention. I’ve been reading a lot about it and thinking about the fact that there’s not a lot of wellness in architecture. It’s the complete opposite, especially within architecture education, let alone designing for mental health. You realize how important it is because you’re designing literal environments for people that affect their psychology and wellbeing. It’s so important for that to be one of the core issues of design. So I’ve been talking to a former SAIC architecture student about that and trying to figure out how the two can come together. Happiness is something that I choose every day, and it doesn't depend on the things that happen to me. Shitty things might happen, but as long as you have a positive attitude and you’re aware of what you're grateful for — for me anyway, that’s what keeps me strong.
Lee: I like to create things that are mythological but closely attached to reality. I make sculptures, I make installations. Early on here, I was inspired by the Palmer House protests. For me, it sounded very religious, like a ceremony. I was interested in why they did that and what they believe in. It reminded me of ancient ceremonies. People have always been afraid of something, we can’t face it alone. So we need to collaborate. To believe in something. It’s not just the totem, or, you know, the temple in itself. It’s more than that. I’m interested in representing that. I want to make more and turn everything into a performance. It’s my next step. When I was very young in Shanghai, the whole city, the whole life – it’s, it’s … the color, the shape, the shape of the buildings, the things you use, the cars, they have a warm color and shape. It’s colder now. My best memory of my childhood is when I was just standing on the balcony, leaning on the railing; I could spend a whole afternoon there just painting the cars passing by. Back at that time, the cars looked very good. They were more square-like. Now they all look very smooth. I don’t like that. I wish I could go to Cuba. I want all those cars. Vintage — for me that’s called fancy. A real car. A car-car. The funny thing is, I don’t have an arts background. I did something totally different in my undergraduate. I studied international economics because I hadn’t made my mind yet! So, I even thought about being a musician or something. But then I got into this economics school and the last year of undergrad I remembered my best memory of my childhood and that’s why I decided to go back to it. I worked for a sculptor, a curator, a painter, and learned a lot from it. I learned how to make bone structures to help suspend large structures. The anti-gravity component is important in making installations. Before, I didn’t know anything about that. But after a while, after I worked for three or four years, once I knew a little about it, I rented my own studio space. After a year I felt like I going to a real art institute to see what it was like. To be an artist is fine to me. It’s fine. My first dream is to be a sailor. Second, I want to be a sushi chef. Those are important to me, but I also need to see cats every day. These three things are the most important. And art is probably going to be the fourth.
Jenny: One photographer that I really admire right now is Elizabeth de la Piedra. She’s really lovely. She photographs her family, she does a lot of concert photography, fashion, and she also models sometimes. She’s doing a lot and she’s a mom of two. I relate in some way because I’m a student who works full time. It’s all about hustling, making time for yourself and for work and for school. It’s a little overwhelming, I’m not gonna lie, but if you have goals for the future, that’s the best that you can do. Don’t stop now. My other influence is my grandmother. She’s the definition of a strong independent woman to me. She’s very independent, works hard, and knows how to be a businesswoman not tied to a man, which I totally respect. Within my culture, the biggest stereotype is that the man has to be in charge of the house. Throughout my childhood, my dad was always pointing fingers at me to do this and do that. Admittedly, he does push me to do better things. My family has been very supportive of me being an artist. But it’s been hard because my dad could be a little sexist sometimes. And my grandmother basically told me to stand up for myself even if it has to be against my dad and I did. So now I travel without his permission, I just go and do it. I’ve been photographing my family a lot — especially my grandmother — and I want to take it to the next level. I want to do journalism that focuses specifically on people of color. I want to start in Mexico and make my way through South America because I know they have a lot of issues. Right now at SAIC, I’m trying to take as many classes as I can that revolve around journalism and Latin America. I want to learn more about my culture. I want to document families and their situations at home, especially in the wake of all the families being separated at the US-Mexico border. It’s so heartbreaking. I know I want to focus a lot on youth education, especially in the arts. I was involved with The Art Institute and Gallery 37 during high school and that taught me a lot. It helped me grow as a person and as an artist. I want to do the same for children interested in the arts.