NYSS requires all persons entering the building (Gallery visitors are exempt) to complete the daily sign-in form: CLICK HERE
NYSS requires all persons entering the building (Gallery visitors are exempt) to complete the daily sign-in form: CLICK HERE
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Student Perspective: Liz ZJ Li on NYSS Marathons

It is you, my NYSS, rekindling my dream.

Now I draw my dream on the canvas of life day and night.

I first learned about the New York Studio School through an artist, art educator, and NYSS alumnus Joren Lindholm, when I told him that I would love to trade all my vacation time for drawing and painting. Joren passionately introduced me to the Marathon Program at NYSS. Upon hearing it, I was thrilled and jumped into the application right away; I was accepted and, within a week, packed up and hopped onto the Vamoose shuttle from Virginia to New York City, on September of 2015.

It was my first time to strongly experience the feeling of thrill. I reflected on what projects thrilled me, and I credit three connecting dots: painting, creativity, and shouting my heart’s desire.

When I first arrived at NYSS, what impressed me was the vibe of the campus, the beautiful campus dwelling in a historical building (the original Whitney Museum), entering the building was like stepping into a world full of artistic ambience, separated from the world of finance only a neighborhood or two away.

Walking into NYSS, I appreciated the culture of NYSS led by the Dean Graham Nickson, supportive staff, faculty, artists, many who had participated in the Marathon Program. The culture of NYSS as I saw it  was unity and wholeness. It is so rare and unique to separate from other institutions that prioritize individualism as the dominate culture.

Marathon became a motif during the time I spent in at NYSS in 2015. Charcoal was the empowering fuel. Smile was the fresh stream along the Marathon way. Sketch is my step into the new fantasy forest of art. 

Everyone was committed to the Marathon: we were working hard together to push our understanding of art, and take art-making to the next level, all while building a tight-knit community along the way. The level of dedication to learning and supporting each other was not impacted by the pandemic, when I joined Fran O’Neill’s Virtual Painting Marathon.

What inspired me was that, before Dean Graham Nickson’s Drawing Marathon in 2015, I could not imagine that I could dedicate two weeks all day, every day to making art, which made me wonder if merely being a weekend artist was satisfactory, maybe I should consider being a full-time artist. Also, through conversations with Graham Nickson and other artists at NYSS, I started to realize that it is not “unrealistic” to be a professional artist, which was quite the contrary to what I was told growing up. My deeply buried childhood dream was awakened.

“Return, Return, Return” was a constant rhythm resonating within my heart. And yes, in 2021, I returned to the Virtual Painting Marathon.

The Summer Virtual Painting Marathon “Room with a View with Fran O’Neill in 2021, opened so many doors for me: color mixing, limited palette, contemporary landscape painting… and I was inspired to travel to a nearby island to paint during in the second week of the class. Most importantly, through connecting with professional artists all over the world, it became clear to me that I cannot wait any longer, I must pursue my dream of being a full-time artist now.

I wondered what made NYSS so special. And throughout my deeply focused studies at NYSS, I came to realize that it was not only a school that offers art education, but a transformative center where artistic souls connect and are nurtured, inspired, and engaged.  

A few months after the Painting Marathon, I connected with a well-known artist and art educator Ed Stitt, who lives in Boston. I packed and moved to Boston, and have been studying and making art full time ever since.

In 2015, Graham Nickson’s Drawing Marathon reawakened my childhood dream in a miraculous way. In 2021, Fran O’Neill’s Painting Marathon motivated me to take action and pursue my dream immediately.

It is you, my NYSS, who not only nurtures my hidden artistic child, but also inspires and supports me. I am now a working artist, fully immersed and living in the art world wholeheartedly. For those wandering and deciding whether to study art or not, I encourage you to take a class at the New York Studio School and feel the transformation.

Snapshots From NYSS

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