How the heck am I already looking at courses for Fall 2013? When did preregistration sneak up on me? For those of you who don’t know, preregistration is the hectic, stressful period when your urge to take interesting or easy classes is in constant conflict with fulfilling your major. Yes, I’m a second-semester sophomore and I am already stressing over finishing my major! Turns out things get complicated when you’re considering a double major. English has its own set of requirements- literary history classes, literary theory classes, literatures of differences classes (whatever the heck that means)- and that doesn’t even include classes you must take to fulfill a concentration… Woah.
In my stressed panic I decided to layout the four semesters I have left here at Wes. That’s when I realized, whattttt, I only have four semesters left at Wes! Maybe it’s just me and four semesters sounds like a lot, but in reality, saying a semester here flies by would be a cliché understatement. I’ve just started accepting the fact that I am no longer a freshman, just started accepting the fact that I don’t live in Fauver anymore, apparently haven’t even accepted that Fauver is now called Bennett Hall, just started accepting that my sister has graduated from Wesleyan (despite the fact that she’s an employed “grown up” and has been living in New York City for almost 6 months now). Basically, now that I’ve accepted sophomore year, it’s coming to a close. I declared my major no more than a month ago and already its completion is freaking me out. How is that possible? I guess I’d rather be stressed about it now while I still have time to fit classes in rather than during my senior year. At least that’s the outlook I am going to have to go with until my advisor eases my nerves and confirms that I will in fact fit it all in.
My nerves surrounding the completion of the Studio Art major along with the English major were at least somewhat reassured by the onset of the Studio Art thesis shows which started last week. The thesis shows are really one of my favorite aspects of Wesleyan. The work people display makes the countless classes and hours (days… weeks… months) in the studio seem worth it.
I walked into Zilkha Gallery last Wednesday for the opening of the first show and was immediately brought back to last year. My sister was doing a painting thesis and was displaying her work during the first week of thesis shows (each artist gets one of the 5 or 6 bays to display their work for a week). So my sister, Elizabeth, spent her Spring Break putting the finishing touches on the paintings she had been working on nonstop since August. She was in the same position as the students displaying this week, under time constraints that were shorter than any shows that would come after her. Having watched Elizabeth’s experience gave me a greater appreciation for the work I was seeing in front of me. I understood the hours that had gone into each piece, the drastic evolution their ideas had taken, but what I really understood was the complexity involved in simply hanging up the work. Last year my sister conveniently realized she was afraid of heights and it was my responsibility to get into the lift and be lifted 40 feet up to the ceiling and place the pegs in the wall to support the paintings. The rickety lift, the 4×4 foot square I was standing in, the 40 feet below me, the stubborn pegs that wouldn’t screw in, and her indecisive advisor who would send me up and down to move the pegs a few inches to the right or left, made the hanging of the work no easy task. When her show was completed and ready for the public to see, I was almost equally as proud. Not only had I risked my life to hang her pieces, but her studio was also about 300 yards down the street and two of her paintings were too big to be transported by car. Being the awesome sister I am, I wheeled two huge paintings, on an unsteady cart, across Washington Street (one of the busier streets in Middletown) and all the way up to Zilkha.
The thesis shows this year brought this all back and reminded me why the stress of class selection is worth it. The classes you take and the teachers you have really make your work what it is. They never push you into a style that’s not your own but rather offer you different tools that allow you to get to know what you’re good at and what you’re interested in. One of the shows that was up this week was a series of mind-blowing woodblock prints. The prints were life-size people, ranging from personal faces like the artist’s father to famous faces like Gandhi. They were arranged like a crowd so as you made your way to the back of the bay you passed through a swarm of these life-size black and white prints. It was like walking through a city, filled with both strange faces and familiar ones.
New shows are up every week and each one continues to blow my mind and serve as an inspiration to not only complete my major but maybe even do a little more and explore the possibility of doing a thesis.