Class of 2008

Interview with Zoe Axelrod, Ryman Arts 2008

How did you get into art?

Before I could write words, I drew pictures in a constant attempt to make sense of the world. My parents set up a huge art table in our kitchen and I would sit there for hours and hours, drawing detailed pictures and dictating captions that my parents would write on the back of the page, i.e. ‘This girl is running away from a cactus but she lost her shoe but she can’t stop running so the maid is getting the shoe for her.

What did the Ryman Arts Experience mean to you?

Ryman Arts was truly the gift of a lifetime. Being surrounded by passionate, creative teens I could truly relate to, and experiencing arts education in a college environment really gave me the confidence to attend an arts college and to pursue a career in art. One Saturday morning, walking onto the USC campus, I realized that the warm, happy, expectant feeling I got every time I walked into Ryman was the feeling I could get walking into work as an artist every day for the rest of my life. Every week, Ryman reinforced my idea that art was what I wanted to do forever.

Do you think that Ryman experience has helped your future as an artist? As a person?

When I was entering high school, I chose to attend the Highly Gifted Magnet at North Hollywood High School, where I would have few arts opportunities, over the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where I would make art for half the school day, because I knew that as long as I had drive and a creative passion, I would be able to pursue a future in arts on my own. Attending Ryman Arts, I learned the very necessary time management skills that it would take to complete great amounts of academic work and still make plenty of time for my art. Now, whatever obligations may eat up my time for the rest of my life, I will always know how to make time for art.

How did it feel being behind the scenes working at Ryman Arts now that you’ve graduated?

Working as the Alumni Projects Intern at Ryman after having gone through the program has made me realize, even more than before, how much time, effort and genuine love goes into making the program a success. I’ve also come to understand how powerful a network of alumni can be. Every alumnus I talk to shares such fond memories of Ryman and wants to give back to the program in any way they can. Ryman Arts doesn’t just create a community of artists for the duration of the program; it creates
a network of professional artists that lasts a lifetime.

What skills did you learn at Ryman Arts that are perhaps resurfacing now in your college career?

Ryman taught me many skills and techniques that I constantly find myself drawing upon as my work evolves and changes. Ryman was the first place I really learned how to use two point and three point perspective, how to form a strong composition, how to create depth, mass, and texture using light and shadow. As my work becomes more abstract, these ideas still greatly inform my art. As the saying goes, you have to know the rules before you can break them!

What advice would you give future and current artists at Ryman Arts? What do you think that they should take away from their Ryman Arts experience?

One piece of advice would be to take advantage of all that Ryman Arts has to offer. Besides working hard in class every week and at home, go to Ryman’s college fairs, career days, and field trips. Volunteer at events. If you get involved in your artistic community, opportunities will continue to present themselves.

What do you see your future in the arts being?

I went on to attend Maryland Institute College of Art, majoring in Environmental Design and minoring in Culture and Politics. I hope to improve people’s everyday lives by making art that is functional, that changes and makes easier the daily tasks we perform and the routines we follow. I want to make products that are practical, inexpensive, easy to use, and sustainable.