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BA Degree in General Studies, Visual Artist, New York City

The undergraduate degree program in General Studies at XXXX University is my ideal program for several reasons, which I outline in what follows. A non-traditional student – now 31 - with an international background, I have a great passion for the celebration of diversity in Visual Arts and New York City. A working visual artist who plans to study part-time, after earning my BA at Columbia, I hope to go on to earn an MFA Degree and devote myself to reinventing and re-defining my career as a visual artist for the balance of my professional lifetime, dedicated to lifelong learning and the constant adaptation of new ideas and the integration of global influences.

Since early adolescence I have day-dreamed about becoming recognized as a successful visual artist with shows/exhibits and making short films. I want to touch people’s hearts and help to make the world a more human place for all of us to live through my art, more inclusive and tolerant, a society that is kinder and gentler to the least fortunate among us. I want to increasingly learn to see and appreciate beauty as it could be. Currently, I am working on two short films and several sculptures. I hope to continue in both of these areas throughout my career in visual art, in addition to venturing out into the fullest understanding and appreciation possible of multimedia efforts that relate to both film and sculpture in particular.

My mother and I came to the USA as refugees from Donetsk, Ukraine when I was a baby, in 1992. My father had passed away from a heart attack a few years prior which, to hear my mother tell it, made life much harder in many ways, especially economically. We landed in Seattle, WA and, after a series of short-term rented rooms, we eventually settled into a housing authority complex in Vancouver, WA, where I spent most of my young life. Most of my time at home I spent alone, with my mother juggling day and night jobs to make ends meet. Our struggle helped me to grow strong and independent early on, laying the foundation for giving my all to my career in the future.

The sophisticated, liberal, and cosmopolitan environment, climate, the community at Columbia, one of the most enlightened places to be in the city, I crave the company of students and teachers alike at Columbia, from all over the world. In addition to Ukrainian, I also speak, read, and write Russian fluently and I am also fully fluent in Spanish. I communicate well in German as well. Having spent significant and extensive time in Europe as well as the USA, I have come to think of the globe as my home and I adore visual art with themes that are one way or another global.

As a child, I often found myself drawing for hours at a time and I always had a camera in my hand. I even won a drawing contest that was shown in the gallery of our elementary school and I was frequently asked to draw flyers for the school. From dance classes to learning to play musical instruments, I wanted to attend to Vancouver School of Arts and Academics since the time that I learned about its existence. The day that I learned that I had been waitlisted was one of the saddest days of my life. I excelled at our local middle school, however, excelling at math in particular. For my university studies, I connected with an aunt who lives in Arizona who offered me a room rent free, in exchange for helping out with her new baby. She did not live far from Arizona State University; I applied to ASU and was accepted. Despite have wide-ranging interests that included quantum physics, consciousness, and spirituality, I began studying for a career in Accounting placing a high priority on financial stability. My efforts at ASU ended by the end of the first semester, however, when my mom lost her job and found herself homeless in Seattle and I had no choice but to go home and help her.

I helped my mother to find a new job and apartment. The closest state university that had a good business school was Portland State University and I quickly applied for the next Winter quarter. I started working part time to support myself even during my full-time studies at PSU. There were times when I was working 2 or more part time jobs. I took classes outside my major to see if I wanted to pursue other fields, but after getting a paid accounting internship I decided to stick with accounting. After 6 months of on an internship they quickly hired me on the team providing me with the financial flexibility to continue my studies and I began to explore other options.

I started moonlighting with a film crew in Portland, Oregon, a collective mix of locals involved in television, film production, photography and the music industry. I learned the ropes of video production and how to use camera gear. Soon, I was producing content and also directing video shoots. This was the start of my career in photography and video production. Working with this crew inspired me to return to my own photography. Between my desk job and working with this film crew, I was able to rent a studio and started working on my portfolio. I connected with modelling agencies in Portland and Seattle and started shooting for start-ups, mostly taking band photos. Some of this work was even published in the local newspapers and featured in music publications. Next, I accepted an opportunity to work for a local, fashionable shoe brand as an in-house photographer. This was very exciting for me at the time because not only would I be managing a photo studio but also creating my own content with the creative team. I left my accounting job, put my studies on hold and started working full time with the shoe company.

With my photography career advancing, I decided to relocate to NYC and quickly found a full- time job working as a studio manager for a midtown photography studio. I started working with model agencies in the city and meeting so many great people to collaborate with. My photography work was growing stronger and I was able to enhance it with better models, makeup, clothing and production. I started picking up commissioned editorials for publications and even working on my own creative photo and video projects. With networking and meeting people in the fashion and art industry, I took on a position with a younger and reputable fashion publication as a Photo and Art Editor, I commissioned shoots, managed interns and conducted/shot studio visits.

Soon, I was able to go freelance and my work and client base have evolved and grown over the last 5 years working as an independent producer, photographer, videographer, production manager for many different projects and jobs. I began working with a variety of galleries and artists, shooting installations and collaborating. Most recently, I have completed one short film that I produced that will be submitted to festivals around the globe this year and another short film that was part of an artist’s show at the Swiss Institute.

At Columbia, I am hoping to have the opportunity to push my creative tone. I would like to expand the depth and complexity of my work and to learn how to think increasingly critically with a solid base in art theory. My career has been a preparation for what is now only a few years away; obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Art. Now that I have more knowledge of what direction I want to head in, with specific interests, I can return to school with the security and flexibility that I have now earned as a freelancer. I have two friends who have attained a BA/BFA in Visual Arts at Columbia (XXXX and XXXX). They have always spoken very highly of the Visual Arts Department at Columbia. My friend XXXX is starting his PHD program this Fall at Columbia in Art History. He has also shared with me how excellent the art program is and how vibrant the studio community.

I very much appreciate how the Visual Art Program at XXXX balances practical courses with critical theory taught by rotating writers and artists; and the way that students are encouraged and pursue multiple mediums/studies; painting, sculpture, printmaking, film, philosophy and art history at XXXX.

When I was in High School, I volunteered at homeless shelters and also gathered donations around town for the homeless. In the future, I hope to return to helping the homeless with my visual art, as I see them as an integral part of the city that I have so come to love.

I thank you for considering my application to General Studies with a focus on the Visual Arts at XXXX.

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