Each week, The Mac Weekly interviews one senior majoring in an artistic field. This week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with studio art and economics double major, Vincent Siegerink. Vincent has had a multifaceted career at Mac, which has included several extensive artistic projects.
TMW: Where are you from?
VS: I’m from Holland. Just a small town in Holland.
TMW: Do you have other majors?
VS: I’m also an econ major, which is kind of weird because sometimes it feels like the one department kind of hates the other one. Econ professors might make a snare about sociology or art or something, and the other way around as well. Art majors aren’t always sympathetic to econ majors, which I completely understand.
TMW: How do you find yourself balancing those things?
VS: I think they compliment each other really well. They’re so different, and I think that doing both adds to the breadth of your perspective. I don’t think that they’re contradictory. But sometimes I do have to be like, “Oh yeah, those econ majors!”
TMW: Did you always know you were going to be an art major?
VS: Not at all, no. I came to Mac intending to be an econ major, and I didn’t take an art class until second semester sophomore year. And at the time I had a lot of friends in their senior year who were art majors and I just thought that what they did was really cool. And I thought, “why not try it out,” and so I did painting and drawing in the same semester. I loved it so it just continued. It just kind of happened.
TMW: So what are you working on currently?
VS: So we have a capstone we have to do for the senior show. And I am actually painting, which I think is super scary because I have only taken one painting class at Mac. I don’t feel really comfortable in it at all, painting is so hard and it takes so much time. I actually put the first brush of paint on my canvas yesterday, so I’ve officially started but it’s going to be a long process. The work is about global economic structures and power inequalities within those economic structures, and specifically about factory workers in Bangladesh. I want to paint factory workers, because in the past there was this kind of stream in art called social realism and it still exists today and it basically is focused on depicting working class people. I feel like that kind of theme still exists but it kind of disappeared from painting. I think it would be very interesting to kind of paint in a similar way, looking at it in a modern perspective.
TMW: That’s super interesting. What inspired you to use Bangladeshi Factory workers?
VS: I was in Bangladesh this summer actually. I wasn’t working or doing anything with factory workers, but I was working with Grameen Bank, which is a micro bank. How did I specifically come to that? Part of it is because of the factory collapse in Bangladesh last year, [which] killed a thousand people. There has been much more debate about it and there has been an increased awareness so I guess I just kind of got inspired by it.
TMW: What has been your favorite project at Macalester so far?
VS: I have a lot of stories about my 2D design class [that] I would love to tell you. So we had this 2D design class, it was about eight or nine students, and it was over in the bookstore building, and our professor was called Gudrun Lock. She’s an adjunct professor so she only teaches one class a year and she is both so smart and crazy and just really inspiring. She really wanted us to kind of experience making art, so for example, we once went on a trip, just an outing — we went outside, and our exercise was that we could not walk on existing paths. So we would just like cross over into people’s gardens, this one woman almost called the police…it was hilarious! And we just took this kind of really crazy route through the neighborhood, and then we saw this guy, he had this truck and he was at the gas station and she [Lock] was like “Sir, sir, can we get a ride with you?” So we all jumped in the back of his truck and drove down Snelling. He was like, “Where do you want to go?” and we were like, “Wherever you’re going” and then after a mile south or something he ran out of gas, and so what happened was we had to push him to a gas station. So here we were, eight art students and we were pushing this guy’s truck down the street to a gas station.
TMW: He’s lucky you guys hopped on board though!
VS: I know, yeah! He lucked out and it was all just such a weird coincidence. Another great thing about that class, me and my friend, my roommate, Diaga, who’s also an art major, we had to do something politically inspired, and it was during the election season so we went out to Woodbury, Minnesota, which is a really conservative neighborhood. We spray painted things on the streets there, mine was about the gay rights law that they were passing and hers’ was just about the general elections. So we drove over there at 3AM in the middle of the night, it was pitch dark, it was this neighborhood, which we knew was super conservative, and here we were spraying on their streets. And I just remember we were sitting in the car next to each other, and we were like “Okay are we gonna do it here? Okay…” And we just couldn’t get out of the car because we were both so nervous and so scared. And so we sprayed it and we just drove off again and we were so scared. We did it in a couple of different places, and then we came back to report to our class and Gudrun, the professor was like, “Oh yeah, the first time is always scary.” She was just always so cool and so understanding and just really chill.
TMW: Do you find that a lot of your artwork is politically inspired? Or where do you generally get your inspiration?
VS: That’s a good question. I personally feel like art is a great medium to express your own beliefs and concerns about the world and about issues. I think that, yeah, that’s definitely one topic that I often explore, but another one is also just myself and my own identity and the way I go through life, so it’s not necessarily all political.
TMW: Would you say painting is your favorite medium to work with?
VS: Well maybe not favorite, but I do think that there is a value in using a more traditional medium and learning a more traditional medium. And what I also like about painting is that wherever I end up later in life, and wherever I go, I can always buy a canvas and some paint and start painting. For example with printmaking, there is a lot that goes into it. With painting you can just do whatever, and it’s colorful, which I like too.
TMW: So tell me more about your background in art and when you started doing it.
VS: Sure! So my mom is actually an artist, and she paints, but it’s funny because my dad is a businessman, and here I am a studio art and econ major. When I was young, my mom would always make us, not make us, but we would always just draw because there were artsy things around and it was great. But I think in high school I just kind of lost touch [with] it and I didn’t do it anymore, and I didn’t even really think about doing it at all. My first year at Mac I didn’t think about doing art. It was only when I realized that when you do art you can, (like with every other major in school you are always learning something and taking information in and using other people’s perspectives) with art you can make something. You can make something that doesn’t exist and you can add something to the world instead of just extracting stuff. I really like that idea, so I guess that’s my rationale for why I started doing it. And my mom would take us to museums. In Holland you have the great Dutch painters of the 17th century and she would always explain to us what it means, and I would always be like, “Sure, mom” and she’d be like, “No, look at this!” and now that I’ve taken some art history classes I can more appreciate what she used to tell us.
TMW: Would you say your art has developed a lot within the past couple of years (at Mac) or changed in any significant way?
VS: I feel like I haven’t made enough. School is so busy, and so I make stuff for the classes that I take but I feel like I haven’t really had the space and the free time to build on every medium because every class you kind of learn a new medium and then you have to move on.
TMW: What other things are you involved with at Mac? And how has that influenced your art at all?
VS: Well, I used to be part of Macalester Development Group, for three years, and I was the chair one year. International development has been a pretty big interest of mine and so I think that that’s definitely a reason for why I would choose this topic for my senior show. I was abroad last semester. Now that I’m a senior and I’m doing two capstones, I kind of can’t follow up [on past leadership roles].
TMW: What are you planning on doing after Macalester?
VS: It’s kind of like my four-year-long struggle of deciding whether to continue with something more economics-y or if I want to do something more with art. It’s incredibly hard to decide. As of now the idea is that I’ll get a normal career and just make art on the side.
TMW: Do you think you’ll travel more? Or stay in the States?
VS: I think I want to move back closer to my family, but maybe not necessarily back to Holland. I was in Paris last semester and I loved it, I would love to move back there.
TMW: Did your study abroad [in Paris] combine econ and art?
VS: I made it like that. I took all the artsy classes there were in SANSPO (study abroad program), which wasn’t very many. But I took a cool class about visual culture. Our school is like five minutes away from the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, so I feel like you’re really interactive there.