Why create art? As an artist, it was something I always knew was important, but I didn’t understand why. While at the SMFA, I’ve realized how complicated it is — not everyone makes art, and those who do create it for different reasons. Furthermore, many do not care at all to answer why they create art.
Art deserves a place in everyone’s life. I hope that this column will help others explore these ideas, and better familiarize the Medford campus with the SMFA population. Mostly, however, I just want to know why people make art. Why it is worth studying, why it is worth doing and why my classmates are dedicating their lives to it?
First-year Magda Petmeza was the best possible person with whom to start this conversation. Riding back to our Beacon Street dorm together, I am struck by how confidently and intelligently she is able to articulate such abstract concepts and answer such large questions without a second thought. With funky jewelry and a paint-stained sweater, she is a recognizable art student, one engaged in her art with such devotion and academic reflection that I cannot help but admire her. “I came here to work,” she said when asked about her studio practice. “That’s it, man, I work hard.” Her work clearly shows.
She dedicates most of her time to sculpture, specifically ceramics, but often incorporates other forms of media such as writing and photography. Magda’s work explores her obsession with the tiny details of human interaction. From photos of beard stubbles to sculptures of knuckles cracking, she finds a way to express the small beautiful things that her overly attentive mind cannot help but focus on. And she does it so beautifully. One of her pieces is currently being exhibited in the SMFA photography show, and another was just accepted into an exhibition in the RSM gallery in Boston.
When asked, “Why do art?” Magda didn’t hesitate with her response: “For me, this is what I am good at. I can spend all day talking about big things and feeling small, but if I have a form in my head, and I make it, I have made something real, I have created something. It is something that I can do, it’s the only thing that I can do that will matter.” For Magda, it’s a way to selectively disconnect from the real world, to focus on the little good things in life instead of the abundantly bad ones. As for the world as a whole, she says, people just like to make things. We have been building stuff with our hands for the entire timeline of the human race. It is as simple as that.
We ended the ride home by talking about the art world as a whole and about what lies ahead for the students of SMFA. “When it comes down to it,” she says with a laugh, “who knows where we will end up? But at least one of us has gotta make it as an artist.”
Personally, I hope it’s her.