“Random . . . and meaningful.” When asked the time-tested question, “How would you describe your work as an artist in three words,” visual artist Nicolei Gupit ’13 stared in silence before offering her answer. The simple response is typical of the modest artist, who is not accustomed to commenting on her own style. She noted that artwork should not try to imitate or impress others, but express what’s on the artist’s mind.
But don’t let her calm, composed nature fool you â€“ Gupit faced many obstacles before settling into her artistic niche. Though her talent suggests otherwise, she has had practically no formal training. Before beginning her Drawing II and video art classes this semester, she’d only taken one drawing class. She explained that the classes offered by her high school were laughable, ideal for slackers who had no real interest in art. Though opportunities were scarce, Gupit couldn’t ignore this interest she’d had since childhood. “I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil. I just drew whenever I felt like it,” she said.
While her artistic tendencies have continued to develop beyond school-girl doodles, Gupit refuses to limit herself. “I’ve had some weird goals. When I was younger I wanted to be a drummer, artist, head of a cafÃ©, something really laid back. But then my mom didn’t want me to do anything related to art, so at first I ignored my dream,” Gupit said. But with such artistic passions, she couldn’t give up quite that easily. When she began working on college applications, she finally realized it was time to take charge of her own life. “College is for me, and my education is for me and everything that I decide from now on is to let me grow into myself,” Gupit said.
The first-year’s diverse portfolio supports her descriptions of her work. One of Gupit’s most notable works is a life-size cow painted to depict bovine rock stars and cheering crowds hoisting their jugs of milk in appreciation. The cow even showcases purple mountains in the background, a subtle tribute to the College. In fact, this piece earned Gupit a $2500 prize from the Lucerne dairy company, whose annual contest challenges artists to express their love of music and dairy on a sculpture of a cow.
But Gupit’s art can also take on a more serious spin. One of her paintings depicts a girl with a Mohawk biting herself to the point of bleeding, with an American flag hanging in the background. “You could interpret it however you want,” Gupit said. The first-year appreciates that ambiguity, leaving it up to the observer to form his or her own unique perspective on her multi-faceted work, and never assumes or asserts that her art should be viewed in only one way. “I can’t really describe it because then I would be making my own interpretation,” she said.
Gupit concedes that she does not have a favorite artist; rather, her art stems from a variety of eclectic influences. She listens to a lot of hardcore metal â€“ Linkin Park, Tool, Metallica. In one breath she’d mention her interest in “Greek and Roman [works] . . . architecture . . . paintings,” in another, a fondness for anime, laughingly admitting that when it comes to art, she definitely has a “mix of interests.”
While Gupit’s style is influenced by a diverse spectrum of art forms, her work still clearly reflects her own spirit and perceptions. “I try to make [my artwork] like a mix of different ideas, usually with human and natural stuff,” she said. “It depends which piece I’m talking about, but I think of an idea that I want to tell people, and then I try to express it through artwork.” She also noted that art should not try to imitate or impress others, but instead reveal what’s on the artist’s mind. “You can learn from someone else, but [in the end] it’s really just you. You have to believe â€“ you have to look inside yourself in order to make art.”
While she has specific preferences for the creation process, Gupit also maintains a relaxed attitude toward the role of art in her future. The first-year is not prepared to follow one rigid and distinct path. “When I think about majoring in art, I’m not set on it. I’m open to any field or any major. I don’t really have plans. I’m not the type to plan. I’m pretty spontaneous,” she said. “Artwork is basically just expressing yourself . . . you have to look into yourself in order to make art.”
You can enjoy Nicolei Gupit’s work by checking out her Web site: http://linkinbuddy.wordpress.com/category/1/personal-artwork/