Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Rachel Newman ’16

Paramus, New Jersey • Psychology View Profile

Sculpting the Simple Not as Simple as It Seems

My introduction to the world of studio art

This semester, in order to spice up my schedule a bit, I decided to enroll in a visual arts class. The one that fit best with my schedule seemed to be Introductory Sculpture, taught by Amy Yao, so I went for it.  

Upon receiving the schedule and syllabus, I noticed that there were to be a number of mini assignments that we had to do, one of which included building a precise eight inch box. That confused me; it seemed a little useless and possibly boring.

I mean, how hard could that be, right?

WRONG. Like, very wrong.

I have never had a true understanding of precision based work, and let me tell you, it's tough. It was kind of humbling, actually. There I was, cutting and sanding wood and nailing it together, and I was having a way harder time than I would have been having had I been doing traditional academic work or even more freestyle artistic work. We seem to take for granted that human default is to be exact. But if you sit down and really try to get the lines straight, or not to sand the corners too much, you realize how much patience and time goes into even, and in this case especially, the simplest design.

It's sometimes hard to connect to art that doesn't look particularly detailed or intricate. Having been put to the task, I now realize that all of the work that goes into detail elsewhere goes into care, planning, and steadiness here. 

In a world where so much is made automatically by machinery, it is an eye opening experience to have to figure out how to put the pieces together on your own.