For the rest of the semester, Canvas will profile a student from every artistic academic program at UNC each week — from dramatic art to creative writing to photojournalism.
In the second installment of the series, staff writer Rupali Srivastava profiled Bachelor's of Fine Arts studio art major Shelby Bass's experiences at UNC.
Junior Shelby Bass was not sure what she wanted to do with her life when she came to UNC as a biology major.
She suffered the same confusion many freshmen do when career options, interests and majors don’t match up.
After embracing the fact that her true passion was and had always been art, Bass changed her major to the Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Studio Art, a pre-professional program that requires students to take more classes than the average undergraduate.
“There are home movies of me when I was 3 with a little easel and my stuffed animal, trying to paint the animal,” Bass said. “I realized, you know, that this is what I want to do.”
Sophomore Audrey Larson works with Bass and has seen some of her work.
“I’ve seen a lot different types of her work, and all of them are very carefully crafted,” Larson said.
Bass said she likes the studio art program at UNC because it gives her opportunities to experiment with different types of art she is unfamiliar with — like jewelry-making to glass-blowing and ceramics — which she has recently become interested in.
“Those things would be cost-prohibitive to explore on my own,” she said. “So it’s great that I can do that within the program here.”
Outside of class, Bass works for the marketing & design department at the Union, where she does graphic design work. She also runs the Undergraduate Art Association, a student organization open to art- and non art-majors.
“The arts department tends to be conceptual, which some students may not like. So the Undergraduate Arts Association tries to fill those gaps in the program,” Bass said.
Recently, an artist visited an Undergraduate Arts Association meeting and ran a watercolor workshop, which Bass said was important because the studio art program at UNC doesn’t offer any watercolor classes.
Larson, who is a biomedical engineering major, said she liked the organization’s weekly meetings because it gave her a place to create.
“It’s good because it gives people an outlet if they want to go make art for an hour — they can make anything,” she said.
Bass has been working on a series of 3-by-5 portraits in neon colors. She explained the inspiration for the series as an attempt to create dialogue about the place portraiture has in today’s world.
“You have an unlimited amount of photos of yourself, with selfies and Snapchat and Instagram,” she said. “But has anyone ever painted you? Do you have a painting of yourself? Probably not.”
In the future, Bass hopes to work for a design firm and possibly move to New York City to pursue art, but she is hesitant.
“I don’t think I want to wrestle with the fickleness of the grandiose art world. I’d rather make a nice mug, and let someone enjoy that,” Bass said.
Regardless of her job title, Bass said she would be able to be creative and solve problems with more preparation than others because of her degree.
“Shelby pays attention to detail on any of her work,” Larson said. “She puts a lot of thought into the decisions she makes, and she really knows what she’s doing, and it makes her art stand out.”
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