Monday, November 12, 2007

“My life has become a pencil” - Iliya

My roommate. A good kid. One foot in Amyereeka and one in Ruski land. We met at Bridgeview in Queens 3 years ago and he traveled here with me two summer's ago. He also went through the prep course I'm now in last year and was accepted into the first year of the Academy. Because of this he knows the ropes and had helped me tremendously not only through his russian skills but his navigational skills through the murky waters of the school's interpretation of administration. He’s known what he wants to be for longer than most and he’s got the talent and drive and brains to not only attain great technical ability, but to maintain his artistic identity on the face of enormous institutional pressure to conform to “tradition”. As my understanding of the Repin Academy has become more nuanced I see some of its flaws and pitfalls as well as obvious benefits. Ilya is in the painting department so he knows their particular bias. It seems two generations ago there was a teacher who is now quite old. This painter taught most of the teachers who now work at the Academy and he taught not only a skill set but a style of painting which is rather drab and flat and a real break from the work I love best from the academies painting department which was around the turn of the century which I think was when Russia really began finding its own voice artistically. At any rate I don’t know what the biases are in the sculpture department, but I’m keeping a look out for them and reminding myself to trust my own voice before blindly following directions.

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