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True art is a path best traveled alone

True art is a path best traveled alone

Jess Willa Wheaton, an accomplished New York City-based artist, visited Hofstra University to encourage students to continue on their own paths to becoming the artists they want to be. 

The California native explained how her transition from San Francisco to New York City changed her work.

“The main transformation happened in just the amount of culture here. I was able to educate myself way more rapidly just by being here than trying to study art in a more abstract way in a place that had less art,” Wheaton said. 

She mentioned that art made in a spatially inaccurate way actually impacted her own 2-D collage work, because it taught her that there are no right ways to do her specific line of work.

“There really is no wrong, but there were definitely stages where certain things were understood about how the world can be made to look more convincing in a 2-D way,” she said. 

Just like other art impacted Wheaton, there are characteristics of Wheaton’s art that students can learn from. Senior Joe Colangelo also enjoys experimenting with newfound objects to create unique works.

“Jess’ appropriation of images is very interesting in that she takes images and bends them out of context to fit her pieces. I feel that use of material might be interesting,” Colangelo said. “The work definitely inspires me to collage, and I feel like paintings based on collage could create some work with a very fresh feel.”

Students mentioned how some aspects of Wheaton’s cubism and pop art stood out to them. “I was really blown away by the mastery of her cutting; the collages were so immaculate and well put together,” said senior Juliana Beck. “When you care about what you do and keep working, eventually things will fall into place. Seeing that she’s an example of [working hard] helped me out,” Beck said.

Another way Wheaton connected to the audience was by going around the students’ studios and visiting the advanced painters to give them advice. For one student, a few words on how to use yarn with paint changed their perspective. For another, it was Wheaton’s words of encouragement that really stood out.

Senior Victoria Jenkins also recognized Wheaton’s influence. “Jess encouraged me to follow my instinct, but consider more the relationships between artist, audience, materials and self,” Jenkins said.

The presentation challenged students to use old objects, change their perspective of them and transform them into new art.

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