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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Avielle Suria // Studio Art Major

Everyweek, The Mac Weekly interviews one senior majoring in an artistic field at Macalester. This week, we spoke with Avielle Suria, who is majoring in studio art.

Where are you from originally?

I’m from Puerto Rico.

And how did you decide to come to Macalester?

I heard about Mac through the mass mail that they sent out to different people and I liked what I read in the brochure. And then I was lucky enough that my brother, who was playing volleyball at the time, the national tournament was held in Minneapolis for the summer, before I accepted admission to Mac and so when we, my family and I, all just came here and visited the campus, took a tour, and I loved it so I decided to come!

Avielle Suria, Photo by Liz Hallgren'17.
Avielle Suria, Photo by Liz Hallgren’17.

Awesome. Did you always intend to do studio art as a major?

Oh no, not at all. I was previously a chemistry major for the first full two years. Yeah (laughs) it was kind of a waste of my time…not really, but a little bit. And then I realized that I liked studio art better and chemistry just really wasn’t gonna happen.

So when did you first start doing art?

I always liked to surround myself with art but I didn’t really start actually making art until, like in a formal sense, until I came to Mac. I guess, you know, in high school you make posters, I mean I was good at that and I was good at projects, I was good at making them pretty, but I never actually made art. But I did always love to go to museums a lot. So because my major experience my first two years was kind of unpleasant to be honest, art just seemed like the logical choice because I always loved it. Even if not making it, I thought ‘hey, why not make it?’

Do you have other majors or minors?


Was there a class in particular that really led you to art?

Yeah! There was. I took printmaking my second semester of my first year. And I just loved the feeling I got in class and I loved the people that were in class and I loved the professor, Ruthann, who’s the current chair of the art and art history department. And so really just taking that class made it pretty clear that I would want to do that [be a studio art major].

Where is your inspiration currently coming from?

As in for my senior show? I think I’m inspired, or I’m trying to explore the idea of what ‘home’ is. And this might change, because like you said, we are at the beginning of the year, but I think I try to explore what being home feels like, what makes a home versus a house or an empty place, what kinds of different things can represent a home, whether that be people or relationships, or special places, that sort of thing, because it’s something very relevant to me. I do consider Minnesota to be like a second home other than Puerto Rico where I go for summer and winter breaks and stuff. And so I’m just curious to see what that means for other people or maybe why I consider both places ‘home.’ I’m playing with that.

And what kinds of mediums do you typically work with?

Yeah, I like photography a lot. I like that the camera captures everything, sort of the good and the bad, and sure you can go in with Photoshop or other tools to sort of alter that, but at the end of the day if it’s part of the image, it’s gonna be part of the image. There’s really no way to sort of contest that, or at least even in, maybe in the final product, it might not be there if you are clever enough or talented enough to hide it or edit it out, it will still be there at the beginning, you’ll still be forced to deal with that image when it’s on the screen, you know, so I like that a lot about photography. It captures everything.

Do you have any ideas for what you want to do after Macalester or graduation?

Ideally I would just go and spend a year in Brazil somewhere, exploring graffiti and interviewing different street artists. But in case that doesn’t work out, I am looking into grad school. At this point I think I’d like to do a Masters in Management of Creative Industries. So it would be a one-or two-year program. I think long-term, I would want to do an MFA, which is a Masters in Fine Arts, but I don’t really feel prepared enough to do that and I would like to sort of do more exploring and also get more technical training because I realize I’ve only taken, you know, yeah I’ve taken all these art classes but I haven’t delved into anything extremely in- depth, and so I think I would have to, I don’t know, I just don’t feel prepared to do an MFA right now.

So you mentioned street art. Is that something you’re familiar with from the past or what draws you to that?

I’ve always been intrigued by it and it’s something that’s, since I was in high school as the years passed, it became something bigger and bigger back home. We have this project to revitalize one of the poorer sectors of the capital, that sort of thing. And the way that they’re doing that, and the way that they’re making it more pleasant for tourists and for people just in general to go there, is through street art. And it’s through getting all this youth together to paint giant murals. But I’ve been here for the most part while that transformation has been taking place. And so I try to follow it, like on Instagram and on Facebook and all that stuff, but you can only do so much when you’re, you can only see so much when you’re far away. So I think that would definitely be something that I’d love to explore more of and maybe possibly become involved in while I’m over there.

That would be really cool.

It would be awesome! I also like the anonymity of it. I mean you can definitely sign your work if you want to, but I mean I guess in theory you could also just leave it and nobody would know, especially if you keep changing styles, or whatever, or aesthetics.

Have you been connected with the Twin Cities art scene at all or more focused on Macalester’s offerings?

I mean, I attend the MIA and the Walker pretty frequently, but other than that I don’t belong to any artist collectives or anything like that. I know there are a few in St. Paul, I know they do good work, and I know of a few in Minneapolis, like street artists and that sort of thing but I haven’t been much into contact, I just follow them on Facebook and that sort of thing.

Do you have anything else you want to add about your work?

I’d like to just ask people to just stop by the art building more often, you know it’s open to everybody and we love it when people come see our art, which tends to be on display either at the mini gallery at the entrance to the left of the building or installations that different classes have.

Do you have any advice for upcoming art majors or Mac students interested in art, other than to stop by the building?

I’d say, I think for me, what stopped me from declaring an art major before was that where I come from if you are not a natural science major you are not considered quote on quote ‘legit’ or it’s [art] not a very respected field of study outside Macalester, or at least back home I should say really, not, I shouldn’t say Macalester, because the Twin Cities is a really arts-friendly place. But don’t worry about it! You know, do it, you’ll find professors that are super supportive and other students that are super supportive and an alumni network that would help you find jobs or whatever. So if it’s something that your parents are concerned about I’d say go ahead and do it really. Or even [if] it’s a minor, you know, if you don’t want to do a major, or even if it’s just a class, take that art class, everybody is super constructive and critiques, and nobody is judgmental or anything. It’s super fun. I love it!

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