Studio Rats

The Life of an Art Major

Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 2:23 am | By Dani Zamora '08

When I was a little boy, I used to love to play and imagine what I was going to be when I grew up. I would take my plastic dinosaurs outside, bury them in my backyard, and then dig them up, dreaming of the day I would be excavating real dinosaur bones in the scorching hot Sahara desert. I also wanted to grow up to be a veterinarian, or an elementary school teacher, or maybe even an architect, but reality turned out totally different.

When I was in high school, I became very interested in theatre and thought I would major in it in college. Once again, this was not the case. During the second semester of my second year, I enrolled in a sculpture class in hopes I would gain a better sense of how to construct props and sets for theatre productions. The class soon had me completely captivated. Suddenly I realized that art was what actually “spoke” to me. It was hard to part from theatre, but over time I realized that art was my heart’s true desire.

Soon after, the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts became my new home. Sometimes I would get there at 8 a.m. and not end up leaving until 1 or 2 a.m. the following morning. On one occasion after I was done with a psychology lab, I felt such a strong desire to do art that I ran from the science building to Bucksbaum and submerged myself in art-making for the rest of the day and night. When I finally looked at my watch, I noticed it was already seven o’clock in the morning. I was supposed to be at my sculpture class at eight, so I cleaned up my work area, went to the Forum to get a cup of coffee, and then went to class, exhausted but filled with a sense of total accomplishment. Some might call that experience “hard core,” but I don’t think it was as extreme as the time I slept on a table in the sculpture studio, or the time I brought a pillow to take a nap in the drawing room, or the time I stayed on campus over fall break to spend every waking hour doing what I loved.

And though art-making may seem like a lonesome activity, my time as an art major has never been lonely. I am not the only “studio rat” — as some like to call us — at Grinnell. During the many days and nights I spend in the BCA, there are always others around in the sculpture, drawing, painting, and ceramics studios. Other students often swing by to check out my work and provide me with a little boost of inspiration and good vibes, and I try to do the same for them. This community within the studio walls has helped me a lot during my time in Grinnell, and I am proud to be one of the many studio rats willingly accepting the time and effort that goes into art-making.

Now, as a senior close to graduating, I think it doesn’t really matter that I will not become a famous architect, or an inspirational elementary school teacher, or the veterinarian who saves your hamster’s life. What matters is that I have discovered the passion that lights my fire. And who knows, maybe someday I will think about doing a piece that allows me to bury my toy dinosaurs in the yard, only to dig them up again later.

Dani Zamora '08 is an Art major from Los Angeles, California.