It was August of 2014 when I was accepted, you may recall, and since then the University of Washington has been my home away from home. I’ve been elbow deep in the printmaking studio. It still blows my mind that 4000 students applied to sit where I sit. And I can see why, we have pretty nice chairs. Also around the time I was matriculated, UW adopted a new motto: be boundless. You can’t miss it. This giant signage in Red Square serves to remind me of those words from orientation, “the admissions officers were trained not only to find students who would excel, but who would be most likely to change the campus for the better.”
When I first saw it my literal mind-thought was mmhm, sure thing, honey. I’ll go ahead and add be boundless to the impossibly long list of things to do. That said, environment definitely affects one’s development. Seeing these ginormous all-caps words everyday has its impact. The daily reminder almost becomes a conversation wherein this exhaust stack, my advisors and my professors want to know two things: who or what is holding me back and how do we conquer that fucker?!
This quarter I’m taking figure drawing with Zhi Lin. It’s pretty serious when your professor has a Wikipedia page. A classmate said I should check out his scathing Rate My Professor page. (I always forget to check those.) After having been in class a few days I can see how some students weren’t ready for such directness. But ultimately I appreciate Zhi’s style. While his phrasing may be harsh, for example when he saw one of my classmates’ self portraits, quipped, “that’s you? Maybe after Jenny Craig.” He also said my drawing looked like child labor. I’m currently unsure as to whether he meant that it looked as though a child drew it or that it looked like a drawing of a child–both meanings certainly apply, though. Harshness aside, Zhi is able to go around the room and point out which side of their mouth people chew their food, based solely on the development of certain facial muscles. It seemed like a magic trick, but really it’s just skill. And that’s exactly what I want to learn, so I can tell I’m in the right place. Figure drawing is probably my weakest area, artistically speaking, and I’ve already learned so much. Comment below if you’d like to read more. Sharing his teachings will potentially help me remember my lessons more accurately and make better artists out of us all.
The boundlessness must be working, though, since UW has climbed up in its national ranking. Better than Princeton, better than Yale and the very best in the state of Washington. We’re rocking it! Congrats, UW!
Credits: Boundless image by Emily Hamacher. Featured Image (figure drawing classroom) by Sunshine.