FEATURED ARTIST: Serena Feingold, MFAU-Tufts

Noa Baker, University of Pennsylvania

Being an art student is kind of like getting grades for the quality of your creative soul.

It is exhausting. It is draining. It is the wee hours of the morning in the art studio painting and re-painting the same white gradient for seven hours until your back hurts and somehow you hallucinate the entire rainbow in the thick white goo on your canvass. And feeling satisfied with it. Or unsatisfied with it. And throwing your brush in the sink just to pick it up again a few hours later and start all over again. Critiques. Falling in love with your canvass. Imagining you and the canvass walking lopsided into the sunset. Or leaving it in the basement of your parents’ place (“more naked people?” sighs my mother, but then adorns the halls).

It is the most challenging and satisfying and heart-wrenching and wonderful work that a young artist experiences.

Serena Feingold is a talented up-and-coming young artist studying at MFAU-Tufts Fine Arts program. Here is her experience.

 

N: Hey! First, just tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What do you like?

S: I am a third year student, studying for my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts (I know, it’s a mouthful!). I’m originally from West Hartford, Connecticut. I’m a lover of color, design, beauty, and functionality. I love to travel as often as possible, to be outside when I’m not working in the studio, and to make music, read, and spend time with friends whenever I can!

N: What inspires you to create art?

S: The carpet in my apartment, buildings, music, the woods, my plants, the ocean… These are all small parts of a whole; being really present in the world is what inspires me most. Travelling is a big part of that, because the exposure to new images and sounds and smells keeps my mind moving – stagnation at bay.

N: Have you always been driven to create, or can you point to a specific time in your life where your creativity began?

S: I have always been drawn to creating. The artists in my family reach back many generations, so I’ve been watching people create words, sounds, and images since birth.

N: Your talents stretch across a wide range of mediums. I’m especially drawn to your jewelry—the detail is so intricate! What is your favorite medium? Why?

S: Metal and clay have become the two media I work in most. I’m very drawn to their inherent functionality and beauty; creating pieces that can be strong and useful but also purely aesthetic is a big pull for me. I come back to these factors over and over again when I am creating.

N: Is there a particular artist that inspires you?

S: To name a few… Alexander Calder, Claude Monet, Niki de Saint Phalle. The list goes on though!

N: Sounds like your life is so creative! What a blessing. What are you doing when you’re not in the studio creating these works of art?

S: More often than not, I’m tucked away in my apartment, talking to my plants or watching The Office. I also work as a waitress and as a tour guide when I’m not in class. But if I had my druthers, I would be running around the world, traveling and doing yoga, and making music, and making art, all the time.

N: Tell me a bit about the art program you’re in at SMFA/Tufts! What’s your favorite bit about it? Part of what we’re looking to do is get people aware of the different art programs out there in the world. Would you recommend yours?

S: Technically, the SMFA just partnered with Tufts this past summer, so our official relationship is pretty new! The SMFA students have been taking academic classes at Tufts University for about seventy years, but the official merging of the two schools just occurred this year and we have the full spectrum of opportunities offered at Tufts at our disposal. Our school does not have any kind of required Foundation/Block/Art 101 year: from the beginning the students are in charge of building their own education. We also don’t have majors—the school encourages interdisciplinary learning, so most of the students experiment with lots of different mediums throughout their four years. As I mentioned, I work a lot with metals and ceramics, but I’ve also studied screen printing, photography (darkroom and digital), some printmaking, and lots and lots of painting and drawing. Working in a variety of media allows the artist to open as many view points as possible, and to start thinking more broadly and live more experimentally. Even if you try a class or medium once and hate it, you’ve still gained something from the energy you’ve put forth in trying to think in a new way. That’s a little glimpse into the philosophy of the SMFA!

N: Thanks Serena so much for your lovely insights and time! Such a pleasure to get to speak with you a little bit about your experiences.

S: I’m really glad you reached out, Noa! It was really great to spend some time reflecting on my work and these past few years. Let me know if you need anything else!

 

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Winter: Self Portrait, 2015 Oil Paint on Canvas

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Views through a Window, 2015 Oil Paint on Canvas.

These paintings were done in oil paint during my first year of school. While working on my observational skills, I was also imitating the style of European impressionist artists whom I admired.

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Ceramic Planter, 2016 Stoneware clay, soda-fire glaze
I threw this pot on the wheel and then cut a drain hole in the bottom while trimming, to make it into a planter. This was an early experiment in carving reliefs into the surfaces of vessels. I waited till the clay was leather-dry and then carved out the leaves by hand.

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Ceramic Planter, 2016 Stoneware clay, glaze, small olive tree
This piece was one of many pieces I threw on the pottery wheel while practicing my technique. I glazed it with a few different color combinations and then gave it to my dad, who planted the miniature olive tree inside. This was how the piece was shown at my final critique.

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Promise Rings, 2016 Silver sheet, wire, and cast pieces.
This is a set of promise rings that were done as a commission. Both ring shanks are made with hammered silver and then affected with a liver-of-sulfur patina. The flower portion of one of the rings was made in wax and then cast into silver through a lost-wax casting process. It was then soldered onto the hammered ring shank.

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Pearl I, II, III, 2016 Brass, freshwater pearls
These rings were made as models for later works. I worked by hand to fabricate the brass sheets and solder on the wire, which I used as cold-connections for the freshwater pearls. I drilled holes into the pearls first, and then wrapped the wires through and around them.

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Playing2016 Art board, watercolor, salt, wax, pen

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Playing III, 2016 Art board, watercolor, salt, wax, pen
Both these pieces were about playing with the idea of mark-making and letting go of my obsession of the “end result”. I took the idea of a spill drawing further, using water color in dry and wet form and allowing it to flow naturally across a square of art board, also using salt to affect the flow. I added other inks as I was playing, and then went back in with pen to manipulate and accentuate the natural movement of the mediums.