Maria Owen is a 17-year-old senior at Sayre School. Maria plans to attend Pratt Institute in New York City this fall as a fashion design major. She chose to go into fashion design because she has always been interested in fashion and thought it would be a practical application of her artistic skills. Maria was also accepted to Parsons School of Design, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and The University of the Arts London. She paints, writes, draws and does photography. Maria responded to questions submitted to her in writing.
UM: Have people been supportive of your decision to pursue art?
Maria: People have been really supportive of my art, but I didn’t believe that I was going to pursue it as a career. I realized I wanted to pursue it when I started looking at colleges. I went to see some more traditional colleges, which really helped me to realize that a more art-focused environment was for me. I think you can be more successful at something that is stereotypically a less practical career it you love what you’re doing.
UM: Who are some of your favorite artists/inspirations?
Maria: I really like Yves Klein. He did a collection of painting and his signature color, International Klein Blue, was copyrighted and I quickly fell in love with it. I also like Klimt because his work is so weird but also so intriguing. In a Klimt painting you can see he’s put so much of himself into the piece, but its still gorgeous. You can pull from it. It’s not shallow art. It has depth, passion, and meaning. I struggled with that because you can paint a pretty picture you like but that doesn’t mean you’re creating something worth seeing. Fashion wise, the 20’s in general are a great inspiration to me because of the clothing and what it symbolized in terms of women gaining independence. I’m kind of an F. Scott Fitzgerald fanatic. Even his writing can inspire my art and designs. I really love Art Deco too. I enjoy the ancient Egypt influence it has, plus I was obsessed with Egypt as a kid and the patterns. Someone else would be Coco Chanel. She definitely helped me bring my love of art and fashion together. She was so influential and now Chanel is iconic. Menswear for women didn’t used to be a big thing, but she changed that, and that is something I admire.
UM: What has been your favorite art class thus far?
Maria: My favorite art class was probably AP Art because it allowed me to have a lot of freedom and it was more challenging and less by the book. You feel more confident when you’re not doing the same textbook stuff as everybody else.
UM: What was the best critique you have ever received?
Maria: I don’t get that much critique at this point, therefore I’m my hardest critic. I look forward to being in an environment where someone will actually tear my work apart, because even if you don’t agree with a critique its good to get more people’s perspectives. Not everyone is going to like your work, that is OK.
UM: What has been your most challenging art class?
Maria: 3D Art was the most challenging class I ever took. It really pushed me outside of my comfort zone, however I’m glad that I had that experience especially now that I am entering a three dimensional field of study.
UM: Are you satisfied with your art education up to this point?
Maria: Well, I think according to the schools I applied to I’m in a good place right now, but there is always room to improve. All the teachers in the world can’t make you a great artist or designer; you have to have your own experiences and build yourself as an artist.
UM: Would you say that Lexington has influenced you art at all?
Maria: Yeah, I think Lexington is a good place to grow up if you’re interested in art because there are so many neat galleries. I’ve always felt that Lexington has a bit of a European feel to it. It’s a small town but you still get exposed to a lot of creativity.
UM: As you go off to Pratt, what are you most excited about?
Maria: I’m excited for art to not be a hobby anymore and to be my education.
Merav Eres is a senior at Sayre School in Lexington. She is doing her senior month-long internship with UnderMain. Merav is writing a series of pieces for us focusing on arts education and local high school artists and their work. This is the second post in the series. Merav will be attending Tel Aviv University in the fall. She plans to major in philosophy.