An Experience Worth Continuing

An Experience Worth Continuing

A short dialogue with recent NYA Summer Residency Program student, Julianna Wells.
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With selected pieces curated for the opening of the New York Academy Summer Residency Program on June 30 2016, all artists were represented, and the artists were most definitely present during the event. Standing among their peers conversing with one other, as well as with guests during their show, I was able to pull one of the talented artists, Julianna Wells, aside from the excitement, and buzz of the occasion, to view her studio space and ask her to reflect on her month long residency. The following dialogue is the conversation that ensued:

Christofer Gass: How do you feel your work has progressed during your summer residency at New York Academy?

Julianna Wells: Being in an environment where everyone is working towards the same goal, which is figurative and representative painting, has kind of put me in a place where I can pursue my own goals. I have this group of people around me that are so talented, so hardworking, and that pushes me to be the best of what I can be. You have to play with people who are better than you to bring yourself up to the next level. So, they have taken us to all these studios like Steven Assael, Alyssa Monks, we heard a talk by Eric Fischl, and a lot of them talk about what figurative painting can be, where you can take it, but I think the most important thing is the Academy isn’t a place where everyone makes the same thing. All of the students receive intensive technical training, but it is up to them to decide what to do with it. Everyone learns to find their own voice, what’s important to them, and the tools they need to express that. So, it has been a very nurturing place that’s also pushed me very far to pursue my own goals.

CG: What is an important lesson you have learned while studying here this summer?

JW: There was something that my drawing teacher, Elliot Purse, first said when we worked on the figure, that it doesn’t have to be what’s in front of you. If you have this thought, or this idea, like “what if the light hit it like this” and that would make it better - then why not make it that and why not push it to be the best that you think it can be. I think that impacted the way in which I think about my own paintings and the way in which I look at things around me. I can create a work of art, not just a replicate.

CG: What aspects of New York City have you enjoyed and what was your favorite part about studying here?

JW: I love the fact that you can go to a free day at MoMA, and the whole museum is just packed with people seeing art. I love the fact that you can go to galleries every Thursday and Friday night and there is hundreds of people looking at art. There are so many people here that appreciate the art world and it just makes me happy to be an artist.

CG: What’s in store for the future? What’s next?

JW: I hope to pursue a MFA here at the New York Academy of Art. The school offers the tools and information with which students painting representation ally need to communicate, as well as pushing their students conceptually. One day, I would like to be a part of the community that walks these halls. For now, I am going to come back home to Columbus and put into practice the information I learned this summer.

(End of dialogue)

Julianna Wells is a current junior at Columbus State University, and a major in studio art with a focus on the medium of oil paint. Since beginning classes at CSU, Julianna has not only befriended, and gained the respect of her peers, but has earned the notoriety of being a dedicated, strong willed, and exceptionally talented student under the tutelage of not only the facility at the university, but among acclaimed artists working and teaching in Columbus, as well as abroad.

Although nearly a thousand miles away from home, and her place of traditional study in Columbus, Georgia, Julianna Wells had close friends, and professors from Columbus State University, arrive to her opening to admire her work that was created during her residency at New York Academy.

With the amount of dedication the artist puts towards her work and the eye of precision she persists consistently, there is only one direction for this young aspiring artist – up! Continue to keep your eyes and ears open for this artist, Julianna Wells is destined for greatness.

Cover Image Credit: Christofer Gass

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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