Maya Aguayo Schmidt-Feng: Senior Profile

Every week, The Mac Weekly interviews one senior majoring in an artistic field at Macalester. This week, we spoke with Maya Aguayo Schmidt-Feng, an Art History major.

Where are you originally from?

Berkeley, California.

Do you major/minor in anything else besides Art History?

I have a Critical Theory concentration.

What does that mean you focus on?

Well it’s across majors such that you can fulfill it using classes from multiple departments. It just sort of happened that way that I was going to to take classes within the concentration—in the WGSS department, the Art History department, German studies, Political Science, Philosophy, kind of all over the place.

What else do you enjoy doing on campus?

I spent the past three summers in the Twin Cities so I feel like what I’ve come to enjoy about campus has sort of just become a more broad enjoyment of the Twin Cities in general. I’ve met some of my best friends I’ll have forever here.

Are you involved with any other organizations, groups, clubs, programs, etc.?

I don’t officially belong to any clubs or organizations but I’ve really invested a lot of time in the Art History department. I’ve worked for the head of the department for the past two years as her research and teaching assistant.

If you could choose only one thing, what would be your favorite thing about Macalester?

My favorite thing about Macalester…I guess it’s sort of related to how I ended up coming here. Most people when they find out that I’m from Northern California are like, “Why are you in Minnesota…? Like how did you even find out about Macalester?” And I applied to this school before I visited and then once I was accepted I visited the school, and just had that very cliché, immediately comfortable feeling here. I didn’t know I was going to do Art History. I’ve had the stereotypical liberal arts experience of, you know, having a professor who looks out for you, and who you care about, and then meeting friends.

Why did you decide to major in Art History?

I have an arts background just from my life and my parents—they met at art school. Both sides of my family are involved in the arts in some way. So I kind of just grew up with that, and then did my own stuff with classes at school and art camps and on my own time. But going into Macalester I thought I was going to be doing education, but I didn’t really vibe with the department as much as I thought. [At the same time I was] taking Modern Art with Joanna Inglot, the head of the Art History department. And just realizing that that’s what I felt comfortable doing and feeling like no matter what I end up doing, it could be informed by studying art history. Whether it’s literally related to doing museum work or gallery work, which isn’t necessarily what I had in mind—but this is where I feel at home, I guess, in a cheesy way.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned at Macalester?

I think Macalester in general, but, maybe liberal art school mentality in general is known for having the potential to significantly change your viewpoint about major social issues or just the way that power works and the world works. It’s cheesy but it’s true— continuing to nurture that interest in not taking things at face value [and] just being a critical thinker in general, I think that’s been most important.

What do you plan to do once you leave Macalester with the Art History background that you now have?

Like I said, I felt comfortable and excited about the major because I felt like it didn’t tie me down to a specific track. But art history for someone else could be like, oh my god, no, that’s really scary and limiting, the humanities you can’t get a job, blah blah blah. So I don’t really know yet— I’m kind of trying to figure that out now. I think I’ve recently been trying to figure out whether or not I want to stay here or go home [after graduation] but I’m excited to stay in the Twin Cities for at least a year after graduation. Just because this is where I’ve been establishing my life for the past, almost four years, and I really like it here. I’m gonna figure it out.