Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

This fall I will be starting an MFA in Painting program at Rhode Island School of Design. Painting has always been the backbone of my identity. As a child and teenager, I studied figurative and plein air painting in a small coastal town in Massachusetts, and in 2010, I graduated from Boston University with my BFA in Painting. Being in the studio is my way of processing life’s events, both wonderful and tragic, with meaning and purpose. Through my love of working with my hands I get lost in physical processes; my mind quiets, and unexpected imagery surfaces. I am forced to reckon with my own demons, subconscious remnants of loss, and truths about myself, all of which make their way into my figures’ eyes or gestures. I come face to face with realities of life’s difficulties when darker imagery surfaces and I use my process to refuel myself with shapes of exuberance, light, and resilience. My studio is a space where I can work through life’s challenges, transforming them and myself into something new. Through painting, I can let my otherwise hidden inner life, my life as metaphor, emerge onto the canvas.
In my graduate studies at RISD, I intend to push forward with gestural figurative work. Through my approach to figuration, I aim to participate in a conversation that pulls from my Jewish background. Jewish people have undergone both unthinkable collective traumas and periods of prosperity. I want to delve deeper into how that mirrors the undulating psychological states of my figures, as well as my own identity as an artist. I look to wartime painters such as Goya and Käthe Kollwitz as guides as I explore these themes. In my figures’ expressions, I move along an emotional accordion between melancholy and exuberance.
I am seeking funding in order to tackle some of the 100K in loans that I will be taking on in order to complete my MFA at RISD. This scholarship would be extremely helpful in my progress buying materials and moving to Providence, RI to start my degree.

Rebecca from New York
Rhode Island School of Design