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‘I can half-ass my math homework, but you can’t half-ass a painting’

A look at four of Durango’s up-and-coming young artists

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"Theo" by Maia Lang
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"Theo" by Maia Lang
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“Cat” by Maia Lang
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“Cat” by Maia Lang
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Maia Lang
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Maia Lang
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“Climber” by Hayley Kirkman
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“Climber” by Hayley Kirkman
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FLC class Poster Design for Social Justice by Hayley Kirkman
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FLC class Poster Design for Social Justice by Hayley Kirkman
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Hayley Kirkman
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Hayley Kirkman
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“Fish Taco” by Drew Althage
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“Fish Taco” by Drew Althage
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"The Gold King Paddles" by Drew Althage
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"The Gold King Paddles" by Drew Althage
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Drew Althage
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Drew Althage
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Eco print silk scarf by Tricia Gourley
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Eco print silk scarf by Tricia Gourley
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Two eco print scarves by Tricia Gourley
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Two eco print scarves by Tricia Gourley
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Tricia Gourley
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Tricia Gourley

‘I can half-ass my math homework, but you can’t half-ass a painting’

"Theo" by Maia Lang
“Cat” by Maia Lang
Maia Lang
“Climber” by Hayley Kirkman
FLC class Poster Design for Social Justice by Hayley Kirkman
Hayley Kirkman
“Fish Taco” by Drew Althage
"The Gold King Paddles" by Drew Althage
Drew Althage
Eco print silk scarf by Tricia Gourley
Two eco print scarves by Tricia Gourley
Tricia Gourley

We spoke to four senior art students at FLC about what inspires their work, the joys and pressures of being an art student and their creative experience in school.

Maia Lang2D art, drawing, painting, printmaking

Her work: I have a crazy, eclectic hodge-podge of style. You could line up four of my paintings and each one would look like someone completely different painted it. I’m really interested in Japanese art and that’s how I got into printmaking. A lot of those influences come into my work. And there’s a lot of cats; I have three running around the apartment. Whenever I end up in an art slump, I just look around at the things I’ve surrounded myself with to draw inspiration from. Without fail, if a sketchbook is out, a cat is probably laying on it. So it’s like, “OK, we’ll sketch you today!”

Being an art student: The best thing about being an art student is the freedom to be who you are and express what you like. The worst thing is the underestimation that comes with it, the statement of, “You’re just an art student. You just have to draw things!” Like, “Yeah, I can half-ass my math homework, but you can’t half-ass a painting. Or it’ll show.” People think, “You’re doing that because you can’t do anything else” or “You chickened out of a science field and did art instead.” The social prejudice against art students; how are you going to make money? What are you going to do with your life? Well, I was planning on being an artist ...

Hayley KirkmanGraphic design, painting

Her work: Most of the time, I just create things for my family and friends. When I create for myself, I tend to draw upon my own experiences and incorporate the tangible things I see in person, painting from a still-life or from a photograph. I try to create things rich with meaning and sentiment. A wise teacher once told me, “If it doesn’t move you, it won’t move anybody else.”

Being an art student: The best thing about being an art student is having creative assignments for concepts you wouldn’t think of on your own, and the strong sense of community within the art department. Speaking on behalf of the design department, I think we are a culmination of multiple studies including marketing, psychology, history, English and communications, among many others. Good design cannot be conducted without good research and we really do put a lot of time and thought power into our work.

Career aspirations: I want to explore many careers throughout my lifetime. I think the ultimate dream is being a creative director at a cool firm. But as long as I am creating, I am happy.

Drew AlthagePrint design, sculpture, architectural photography, interactive design

His work: I’m a big fan of blending cerebral photography and beautiful type. There is a studio called Wedge & Lever; their work has been a huge inspiration over the past few months.

Being an art student: Perhaps one of the best things about being an art student is being able to make your own creative decisions – with guidance from instructors, of course. Having the freedom to take risks and experiment without serious consequence is very nice. As an art student, grades are not the priority. If you put time and energy into the project, piece or whatever it is you’re doing, it will show and the grades will come. Art students work hard, write papers and sweat through tests just like other disciplines.

Tricia GourleyTextiles, oil painting, collage, mixed media, environmental art

Her work: I am exploring working with fiber and natural dyes and using many different surface design techniques, from printing on fabric to using different forms of resist techniques to create patterns and texture. I love the simplicity of hand-stitching and embroidery, as well. Most recently, I have been exploring a process called eco-printing; the process uses various plants and flowers that print directly onto the fiber. I am drawn to these natural dyeing processes because I love that I get to bring the natural world literally into my work.

Being an art student: The best thing about being an art student is that my homework is mostly making art. I also love being exposed to so many different mediums and artists. I enjoy the different assignments; it gives me an opportunity to work in a way that I may never had thought of or tried before. I think I could only exist as an art student; getting to be a maker is so engaging. I enjoy the problem-solving and getting to use different parts of my brain. I don’t mind writing a paper every once in a while, and I enjoy the reading that comes along with our classes mostly; but if I were only reading, taking tests and writing papers ... I don’t think I would want to do that.

Career aspirations: I am excited to continue developing my work with textiles. I am going to start a studio where I can make functional textiles and wearable art and do some teaching as well. It will have a communal aspect. I love the connection that happens with people while making things in a shared space.

Anya Jaremko-GreenwoldDGO Staff Writer