The Big Apple called, and a Southwestern student answered
Candace Weigand describes her first three years of college as “taking a sledgehammer and slowly destroying my [earlier] finite ideas of what I wanted my art to be.” Perhaps such words speak to how college expands horizons and encourages risk. However it happened, Candace’s fall semester, 2013, at Southwestern University culminated in success. Her senior project showcased large feminist figures, done in oil or charcoal, compelling, evocative, and dramatically multilayered. Then Candace and two other SU art graduates, Jamie Gardner and Nikki Grona, faced another exciting challenge. They spent their final spring semester interning with established artists through the New York Arts Program (NYAP). In January, they catapulted from a small, quiet campus into Manhattan’s famously frenzied lifestyle.
In her first NYC blog entry, Candace expressed solid goals for the months ahead, but, not surprisingly, practical survival initially upstaged professional concerns. Wryly, she remembers turning full circles on a corner to orient herself, trying to understand N-S-E-W instead of visual landmarks, and developing subway savvy. She shivered in brown snow for weeks, found grocery shopping “annoyingly complicated without H-E-B,” and chafed at NYC’s culture of anonymity. She was surprised that gallery openings were too packed for her to actually see the artworks. She struggled to maximize available time. “It took a long time to fall into routine,” she admits, “to adjust to the pace of life.”
Some positives, a great roommate and the studios where she worked, balanced the negatives. Running errands became easier, and she learned “where all the best art supply stores are.” Candace’s workdays involved “doing artistic stuff,” like creating stencils at one studio and drawing organic shapes on bookbinding cardboard at the other. She and friends “discovered” Brooklyn’s diverse galleries, far more than they had time to truly absorb. On other excursions, they marveled at famous pieces at the Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art. Horizons continually opened, and Candace now says, “Staying in dialogue with what others are doing has its place, even if [their work] isn’t my personal aesthetic.”
She’s still amazed by a giant hamster wheel with furniture bolted around its inner and outer edges in The Boiler of Pierogi Gallery. The artists presented the contraption as a performance and installation piece and lived on it for forty-eight hours. Candace’s mid-semester post offered this insight: “I’ve reached a sort of Zen with this city. It’s simultaneously most inspirational and depressing.”
Within New York’s creative milieu, Candace revisited an earlier project idea and returned to Georgetown pleased with eleven new pages of progress. She enjoys telling stories visually in comic format, and Anton is her “supernatural slice-of-life” narrative about “two broke twenty-somethings in (of course!) New York.”