Hi again guys! Today I’m gonna talk a little bit about art at Mudd, and what some of the students here at the school do to express themselves.
One of Mudd’s big selling points is that, even though it focuses on STEM courses, it’s a liberal arts school, with a number of humanities requirements. As such, there are a lot of students here with interests beyond the sciences. I myself identify as a creative, and was curious about what the artistic experiences of other students have been. I talked to students who do work in visual art, music, fabric, and ceramics to get their takes on what art meant to them.
“I see doing art and keeping up with it as a good counterbalance to all of the technical and analytical thinking we do in STEM courses,” said Shanel Wu, a senior. “It’s been a real sanity saver for me.” Shanel plays in Pomona’s orchestra, draws, and enjoys knitting in her free time. “I knit a lot, and since it can be an expensive craft, I get my friends to commission me, and they get nice scarves, and I get to try out new techniques and such.” Orchestra is a course, and has to fit into her schedule, and in terms of knitting, Shanel said “Since I treat it as a hobby, it’s actually replaced my other procrastination methods, so it hasn’t eaten into my schedule.” Shanel says that she tries to use classes to keep art in her schedule, and stay on top of her creative pursuits.
“I do lots of different art” says junior Dylan Baker. Dylan writes and performs music, and has taken many art classes while at Mudd. “Now I’m doing an independent study in art where I go to museums with my HSA advisor, Prof Fandell, who I’ve taken tons of art classes with. We just go to museums and art festivals and talk about what’s happening in modern art, and it’s super exciting.” When I asked Dylan about how she felt trying to balance here creative interests and her scientific interests here I at a STEM school. “I feel like the two really inform each other…Like, I don’t balanced if I’m not doing both. I get really antsy if I’m just doing one, which I found out during core, when I was just doing science-y stuff. So now I do art all the time.”
“In high school I did visual art stuff, but more recently I’ve been doing lots of ceramics,” said junior Bonny Chen. When I asked Bonny how often she got to get to do art, she said “Definitely not as often as I want to. I feel like it’s really easy for school stuff to consume all of my time. That’s why I’ve been enjoying my ceramics class a lot, because it’s a course and I have to carve out time for it. It’s like, 3 hours per class, so that’s 6 hours a week, and I usually chill out in the studio for another 5 hours on top of that…It seems like a lot, but time kind of doesn’t exist when I’m working on stuff.” I asked if there was a value to art at a STEM school, and she said “Yeah, I think that’s why I spend so much time in the ceramics studio. It’s kind of cathartic, refreshing. So yeah, I think it’s very valuable.”
“I don’t really stick to one medium. I do a lot of watercolors, I draw a little bit. I like making Zines, which is like, DIY magazines, which is more writing, any sort found material, collaging sort of. I also like writing fiction as well.” Junior Tiffany Sun does a lot of work with art. It’s a constant emotional resource for her. “I do it every day. It’s kind of like my hobby, and way to relax. So I usually end up doing it while listening to music or watching Netflix to relax in the evening. So on average I probably do it about 2 hours a day, on average.” However, unlike the rest of the students who I talked to, Tiffany doesn’t take any art classes, as they’re sometimes hard to get into, or a large time commitment. In spite of this, she always makes time for it. “Who I want to be is someone who is really into hobbies. That’s kind of my happy state.”
One of the big questions that I asked the four, in slightly different forms, was where art fits in at Mudd, when it’s a fairly rigorous STEM school. All four said that there are avenues that you can go down at Mudd to keep involved with your art. All of them, though, have gone down different paths to keep doing art. Even at a STEM school, all of them have found time to pursue their artistic passions, and take solace and joy from it. As freshman, it’s reassuring to me that I’ll be able to come back to art at my time at Mudd. “There’s definitely a growing art community,” says Dylan, and I definitely hope she’s right.
All of my interviewees for this post are members of the Mudd Underground Creative Colllective (MUCC). Check out their Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/MUCCollective/