Louis Esposito, second year MFA student, shares with us his Studio School experience. Join us for our 2017 MFA Thesis Exhibition, Opening Wednesday, May 17, 6-9pm.
As a painter, I strongly believe that as artists we must try and teach ourselves throughout our entire lives. I’ve always understood that there’s a rich culture of art history and tradition for us to grab and run with. But what it also all means is to have a serious and devoted experience with our work. We must push ourselves, think critically about our paintings, and perhaps, fight with them if we need to. Finding an atmosphere that cherishes this need for self-discipline and encourages a love for tradition has become rare—maybe impossible—to find today. Luckily this was exactly what I experienced during my time at the New York Studio School.
Now that my time at the Studio School is gradually coming to an end, I can’t help but mention the importance of what my mentor—Dean Graham Nickson—has said about this building,“We refer to the good ghosts that inhabit this building.” Some of those ghosts Graham referred to happen to be heroes of mine: Mercedes Matter, Meyer Schapiro, and Leland Bell to name a few. I know that for myself it’s been a powerful feeling while walking, or admittedly getting lost, through the historic labyrinth of this building knowing I’m essentially in the presence of those I admire so greatly. However, it’s not just the legacy beholden to the Studio School that I want to emphasize, it was also the atmosphere that I got to experience while I developed in the MFA program. The New York Studio School is an institution committed to the language of art. While at the school I was always encouraged to push myself forward, to pursue my ideas, to identify my own sources, and most important, the ability to see. Whether it’s been through still lifes of twisting flowers or mysterious and awkward figures, I never had to forget what I identify as most important. I’m a painter who generally works from life and I have a need to draw—these are aspects the school still holds onto dearly and I found comfort in knowing that. Working from perception and an emphasis on drawing has always been crucial for my work, but they also happen to be crucial to the school’s mission.
This mission is intertwined with a desire to continue having a serious conversation about art-making, and it made total sense for me to go to this school. I was able to paint the figure while looking at Balthus, but also speak to the importance Klee, Redon, or Cimabue have had on my work. I had the freedom to never stop looking at the painters I admire, while getting to learn about some new ones. At some moments I felt like I was dancing with Matisse and Bonnard, and others Seurat and Poussin, and honestly that was—and still is—pretty exciting company for me to have been in while at the New York Studio School.