Dylan Brenner

Los Angeles, California

In addition to getting a B.F.A., I am also receiving a double minor in American Studies and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The ability to do this and explore all that Cornell has to offer is something that I found to be particularly unique and wonderful.

Why did you choose Cornell and AAP?

When I was looking at colleges to apply to, I knew that I wanted to pursue fine art. However, I also knew that I had other interests that didn't exactly fall into a typical fine arts curriculum. I love learning about American history, politics, and current social issues. After touring all different types of liberal arts schools, big universities, and small art schools, I realized that Cornell had everything that I needed. The B.F.A. curriculum encouraged students to work outside of AAP and pursue interests that may influence their artistic practice. Though there is the structure of a fine arts degree, the B.F.A. program gives their students the freedom to take classes on things that we are interested in and not necessarily things that are required of us. Though I try to challenge myself with the classes I take, I am interested in and passionate about every single course I enroll in. I really appreciate that we take intro studio classes in all six types of media that the B.F.A. program offers. My first semester here I wanted to take Intro to Painting, but demand for that class was so high that I was instead put in Intro to Sculpture. I feel so lucky to have taken this class when I did because it allowed me to take Advanced Sculpture the following semester and I created some work that I am really proud of. I also fell in love with printmaking which is an art practice that I had zero experience in beforehand. This semester I'm in Intro to Photography working in one of the most well-kept darkrooms and loving it! We have amazing facilities in AAP and I really appreciate how encouraged we are to explore those facilities regardless of experience level. In addition to getting a B.F.A., I am also receiving a double minor in American Studies and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The ability to do this and explore all that Cornell University has to offer is something that I found to be particularly unique and wonderful.

What inspired you to become an artist?

At a young age, art became a way for me to express myself without words — I have a lot of thoughts and sometimes it is really hard for me to express them verbally. In addition, art became an outlet and coping strategy that I used when my life would get more hectic than I liked it to be — I always had a sketchbook or canvas to turn to whenever I felt overwhelmed. When I was younger I was obsessed with Legos, and in a strange way, building Legos when I was a kid reflects how I work as an artist now. When I would get a new Lego set I could sit in my living room for hours working until it was finished. Similarly, when I am working on a project that I am passionate about, I can work all night. Creating art excites me and makes me feel really proud of my abilities.

What experiences have contributed to your sense of belonging at AAP?

Though I am only a sophomore right now I can say wholeheartedly that AAP has given me such a special community. The people in my major have become my best friends. We all work in very different ways and styles, but we all bond over our love for art. There is nothing better than staying up late in studio with your classmates/friends getting ready for critique the next day. I lucked out last year and ended up living in a dorm with a considerable number of people from AAP and that only drew us closer together. Not only have I become close with people in fine arts but I have also met incredible people in urban planning and architecture. My roommate this year is an architect and it is so nice to live with someone who understands my work/life schedule. And all of us are going to Rome together next semester — I can't wait!

What are your extracurricular interests and how have you incorporated them into your college life?

I love to cook. Though it can be a bit more tricky in a college dorm I've managed to make it work (my blender and mini rice cooker are my best friends). I enjoy cooking so much that I once wrote an entire essay about my love of butter. In my spare time (and to blow off steam), when it's not too chilly I love to run around Beebe Lake — it's so beautiful!

What do you hope to accomplish during your time at AAP and after graduation?

A lot of my work revolves around political issues that coincide with my interests outside of AAP. During my time at Cornell, I want to continue to make thought-provoking and conversation-starting art. I want to grab the attention of other people and make them consider and question the things that we have normalized in society. I want to continue to do these kinds of things both in and outside of the art world. This past summer I interned in the office of my U.S. senator and hope to do so again this upcoming summer. I believe that my passions for art and politics shape each other and though I don't quite know what I am going to do post-Cornell, that's okay. I am taking classes on things that I am passionate about, exploring all that Cornell has to offer, and trying to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. Whatever I continue to do in the rest of my time at Cornell and beyond I will do in an attempt to make differences in society — regardless of how big or small they are.

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