Jacob Rath: Senior Art Major



For the past two years, the Arts Section has been interviewing Senior Art Majors about their past, their art, and their hopes for the future. This year, most of the interviews have taken place via email. When given the list of questions that are usually given to the interviewees, Jacob Rath ’13 wrote the following response. Instead of parsing out his response, we thought it best to publish it in its entirely.

My name is Jacob Rath. I am from Brooklyn, New York. In addition to Art, I am a Math major and Russian minor. I am also co-president of the Scrabble Club.

My dad is an artist, so I’ve been exposed to art for as long as I can remember. While art was always something I did as a kid, I didn’t do it so much in high school. This changed when I came to Macalester. I took Drawing I during my first semester at Macalester and I worked as a Studio Assistant. Once I realized that I was spending the majority of my time in the Art building, I realized that Art was what I should major in.

When I was working as a Studio Assistant in my first semester, one of our jobs was to clean out the Art Department basement. It was filled with the belongings of Donald Celendar, a deceased professor that used to work at Macalester. While we were cleaning the basement, we became well acquainted with his personal life and his artwork. He wrote a lot of surveys. He distributed these surveys to various people, and then compiled their responses in a book. The most interesting of these books was called “Mortal Remains.” He asked various people in creative fields what they wanted to do with their bodies after they died. The book became one of my favorite pieces of all time and completely changed my idea of what art was all about. Art was more than interesting pictures and objects. Art was about asking questions and trying to find interesting answers. Donald Celendar’s work is what inspired me to eventually take up interactive artwork.

My biggest interactive piece is called “I am…me.” The piece involves a person walking around wearing a dry erase board. The person (who is referred to as the model) asks others to write things on the board. Everything must be written in the form “I am (something). (Do something to) me.” Every time the text changes, I take a photograph. I started doing this piece as a project for my Fibers Class. The first time I did the “I am..me,” I modeled for the piece on Macalester campus. I did the piece again in New York City. Changing the location changed the responses I got. I got some of my friends to model for me, and changing the model also changed the types of responses I got. I want to get even more people involved. Everyone so far has been college-aged, it would be nice to get someone a bit older. Inti Chomsky ’13 said he wanted to do this piece in Mexico City. I was excited by this idea, since so far this piece has existed only in the U.S. I’m also interested in figuring out if it’s possible to translate this piece into Spanish.

I haven’t done the piece in Minnesota outside of the Macalester campus, since I’m too busy during the semester, and I’m not here during the other times of year. The piece also requires spending an hour or two outside, and unfortunately the majority of the time I spend in Minnesota is during months when it’s too cold to be outside.

My work for the Senior Exhibition will definitely contain an interactive component, if not multiple interactive components. I’m still juggling with what exactly my piece is going to look like. I’ve been doing a lot of work for it, but I don’t feel the work I’ve done is unified yet. I should be able to find ways to make these ideas converge in time for the show. I’m doing work that deals with shopping/consuming, but I’m also developing work about the contrast of defectiveness and beauty, and works about purity. I’ve been very inspired this semester and have had a lot of good ideas. Unfortunately, I can’t do everything I want to. I need to figure out which ones complement each other best, and which ones I can implement well in time for the final exhibition.

I have a website for the “I am…me” piece. The url is iamontumblrfollowme.tumblr.com. I will update it whenever I get a chance to work on the piece.

I am interested in doing more collaborative art. If anybody is interested in working with me, don’t be shy. We can figure something out.