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Student Perspective: Anita Trombetta (MFA 2023)

Before coming to the New York Studio School, I was working in a studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn. For several years I was making abstracted bodily paintings of food and everyday objects. I was also experimenting with plaster, casting sculptural elements from everyday objects. I felt my approach and tools were limited and I knew I needed to dive deeper. So in January of 2020, I enrolled in an evening drawing class with Clintel Steed at the Studio School. Meeting Clintel was transformative. He has imparted his energy, enthusiasm for history, and work ethic on to me. After this class, I kept on drawing, making a series of massive, labor-intensive pencil drawings of my apartment. Unbeknownst to me, scale and space would be a continued thread in my work.

After several months, a virtual class with Kaitlin McDonough, and an Intersession Marathon with Graham Nickson, I decided to apply for Studio School’s in-person MFA program. I chose John Newman and Jenny Lynn McNutt’s Atelier for an interdisciplinary approach. I was ready to experiment and go down as many rabbit holes as I needed to. I remember early on in the program, Jenny Lynn reassured me that if I got stuck down a rabbit hole, she would find me. She continues to meet me where I am at and to push me beyond my preconceptions. Both John and Jenny Lynn are intensely challenging and bring their rich experience and knowledge of history and the contemporary art world into play. I cherish our dialogue that includes science, short stories, poetry, and culture at large. Working with John and Jenny Lynn has catapulted me outside of disciplinary boundaries and affirmed me as an artist.

Beyond having wonderful, rigorous, and caring mentors, I am lucky to have a strong cohort. They are smart, genuinely passionate, and offer generous and honest critique. We recently took a field trip to Industry City with our atelier to see Singing in Unison. Seeing this show got me and fellow classmates excited about curating our own shows in the School and beyond. After a long stretch of isolation due to the pandemic, this type of community is powerful.

While sorting through various modes of working, I took Jilaine Jones’ Bas Relief Sculpture Marathon in the massive, light-flooded clay room. Jilaine opened my eyes to the power of space, how subtle formal underpinnings can change the emotional resonance of a piece entirely; for example, the slight shift of a plane and its effect on light. We looked at relief throughout history, from the ancient Mayans, to renaissance sculptors like Donatello and Ghiberti, to my personal favorite, the late Lee Bontecou. Jilaine had us working with various materials: cardboard, plaster, wire, and clay.

After the Marathon, I began a series of relief first from plaster, then shifting towards lighter weight papier-mâché. The sculptures are born from the unnameable; and drawing is integral to how I begin. I spent two semesters in Isle Murdock’s drawing class. In her class, my drawings became more experimental, flowing more and more into the sculptural work. I make sketches, sometimes bodily diagrams that feel both familiar and of another world. I integrate color, and at times, found objects into my sculpture. Installation and relation to the viewer’s body is becoming increasingly more important. I want my sculptures to be surprising and at times confrontational.

Going to the Studio School has, and continues to be an expansive experience. In my studio, I have gone beyond what I possibly could have imagined for myself and broken down preconceived hierarchies. Most of all, I have expanded my instruments of seeing, drawing being the primal source, that I will hold on to for the rest of my life.

 

 

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