By LAURA HUMBLE – STAFF WRITER
Sandy Zhang’s pursuit of art was clear to her from the beginning. “I came to Centre knowing I’d be an art major,” Zhang said. Despite not having much formal training with art, Zhang first realized she had a talent when she was accepted into the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts Program. “That was the first time I was like, ‘Oh, I’m actually okay at art? I actually made it into this thing? Maybe I could try [art] out as a major!’” Zhang said.
However, Zhang was first uncertain about where this decision to major in art was going to lead her. “I didn’t know what I was going to do with [my major] but the really great thing about the Centre Art Department is that they let you explore different paths, and they’re pretty open [to] what you want to do with your major,” Zhang said. She commended Centre’s professors for helping her figure out her career path, and for contributing to her overall happiness. “I enjoy being an art major. It’s really therapeutic. It helps me see the world differently. Everything is really engaging and vibrant.”
Zhang expresses her cheery worldview in her artwork. “For my senior show, I’m focusing on the figure… people suspended in space. They look like they’re floating or falling or something. I like drawing people in general because people have a lot of different color tones… [Color] just makes me really happy,” Zhang said.
Being an art major at Centre, however, can be time consuming. “It’s a lot of time, but it’s not hard,” Zhang said. At the minimum, she spends five hours a week working on her art, but when she is working on a big project, she puts in even more time.
“I put in 18 hours on [my recent landscape painting] over the course of a week and a half, but I put in 40 or 50 hours on [a much bigger painting I did last year],” Zhang said. “The beginning process is a lot slower, but as it gets closer to the deadline, I’ll spend four or five hours in the Art Barn a day. But it doesn’t hurt your brain! It’s hard on your body, [but] you build up your back muscles over time!”
Zhang enjoys art that has a story and is somewhat fantastical. She likes art that remains slightly unattainable in the way its story is not immediately recognizable; the observer must bring his or her own interpretation and experiences to make the work of art fully come alive. “I don’t want my art to seem realistic, but more emotional,” Zhang said. “Art is something that can be used to tie groups together. You can create memories and experiences with art.”
Zhang would like to go into public education, or work in an art museum or art center. “I don’t know for sure what I’ll do after I graduate, but I know it will involve teaching. I really want to get art out to the general public, [and] raise appreciation for it,” Zhang said. “People don’t realize how important [art] can be.”
At Centre, Zhang is the president of the Art Society. “The Art Society was established to raise student appreciation for art and to give students who aren’t art majors opportunities to be involved with the arts,” Zhang said. The Art Society hosts a lot of workshops in the fall, including one coming up on Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. in the Art Barn, where free, non-alcoholic beverages will be provided.
The Art Society also provided transportation for students to go to the LexArts Gallery Hop and holds a silent art auction. “The money for [the silent art auction] goes to the Governor’s School for the Arts,” Zhang said.
For students interested in art—but not necessarily an art major—the Art Society is a great way to get involved.
Zhang believes art can touch all people and be used to improve society. Zhang’s passion for art is obvious.
“I think it’s really important to make the most of every opportunity you’re given,” Zhang said. Perhaps we can all take note from Zhang and let the happiness art provides benefit us as well.