[Redaction (Monday, Apr. 15): As per the request of the subject of the article, all instances of their name have been redacted.]
Many people on campus recognize sophomore [redacted] from Matthew’s Minstrels performances or starring as Mimi in “RENT” last semester. But for [redacted], those involvements only mark the beginning of her artistic repertoire here at Vassar College. Her high creative energy has not only fueled her to participate in almost every facet of Vassar’s art scene, it also drives her to continue to experiment.
As a member of the a cappella group Matthew’s Minstrels, part of various musical theater productions and now trying her hand at the visual arts, college has been the means in which she has embodied the creative spirit of Vassar. For [redacted], no matter what your previous experiences in the arts are before Vassar, you can use the College as a way to expand your horizons in the artistic world .
When [redacted] isn’t working on her side project, Marshmallow Tart Vomit (her new underground grunge band), she keeps herself busy with many other artistic projects. [Redacted] said, “I do a cappella, I did FWA last year, I’m doing the jazz ensemble, and I would like to get more involved in the visual arts on campus. I’m trying to explore that a little bit more, so I’m taking a drawing class right now.”
This repertoire may seem intimidating to someone who hasn’t participated in the art culture on campus yet, but [redacted] believes that no matter your level of experience, you can end up thriving in this scene. She said, “I never really sang as part of anything, but I always enjoyed singing independently as a kid. Then in high school I was in a choir but I only sang a lot of strictly choral music. I did musicals in high school, but I was always in the ensemble. So Vassar has been my first experience really doing something on stage, and having that feeling that I’m part of the show. I never had a line in high school, so I would say that I didn’t really start until I came here.”
Although [redacted] wasn’t offered main roles in the productions at her high school, she has earned roles in two musicals at Vassar to date: “The Drowsy Chaperone” as the Pilot, and “RENT” as Mimi, one of the leads.
She said, “I always felt like I didn’t have a voice in any high school productions, so it’s been nice coming to Vassar and having a different experience. Not because I’m somehow miraculously much better here or anything, and not because there’s a difference in opinion of how my voice sounds. There are just so many different opportunities to try something here that there’s bound to be a production that wants you.”
Going from feeling voiceless in an artistic environment to being an integral part of different musical groups around campus is a sizable transition, but [redacted] seems to be managing this leap.
She said, “[RENT] turned out to be a very wonderful experience because it was my first real role. And there was a lot of support from the cast and crew of the show. It was very liberating; I didn’t have time to doubt myself because a lot of people in the show were used to having big roles, so I felt like there was no room for me to say that I felt self-conscious about what I was doing, even though I’m sure they would’ve supported me in that.”
Although [redacted] remained humble, students who worked with her in these productions felt free to praise her. Dan Thompson ’17, who acted alongside her in “RENT,” wrote in an emailed statement, “Working with [redacted] was always a learning experience. Her talent comes so naturally, so by observing her in rehearsals and performances I learned a lot. [Redacted] brought an interesting dynamic to the cast of ‘RENT,’ and always in a good way. She alleviated a lot of pre-show jitters, and made me feel really confident in myself. Her talent is inspiring, and her bubbly personality is contagious. [Redacted] is one of the best people you could ever work with.”
Ryan Eykholt ’17, who is a member of the a cappella group Matthew’s Minstrels with [redacted], also had a lot to say about her work.
He wrote in an emailed statement, “I’m constantly in awe of [redacted]. She is such a generous artist and her vibrant energy just makes any creative process so fun. She’s an insanely valuable member of the Minstrels, always contributing really thoughtful critiques and praise to help us improve as a group. But the best part is finding random things to collaborate with her on. She always has such great ideas of projects, such as doing a ‘slow, sad, James Blake style cover of ‘Party’ by Beyoncé’ (that thankfully we attempted to do), that I live for. I can’t wait to sing, act and dance with her for the next three years.”
With a year of artistic performances, experiments and experiences under her belt, [redacted] has been able to grow significantly as an artist at Vassar; however, she still strives to improve and always looks for a new project to tackle.
She said, “I think these experiences are tremendously rewarding, but I also feel really happy to have the opportunity to keep on working on them. I’m constantly feeling like I need to change things, or keep on working on things. I never really feel like I’ve completed something, but it’s rewarding to keep on putting in the effort.”
[Redacted] mainly sticks to singing and acting in terms of her public artistic expressions, but she has been exploring new outlets for her creative energy. She said, “I’m just getting started with visual arts; it’s something I’ve usually done on my own. My experience is in viewing visual art, and I’ve always found anything that I’ve never seen before is very beautiful to me. It doesn’t have to be that aesthetically pleasing, but every time I see a piece that is nothing like I’ve seen before, I get really excited. So in that sense, I think anybody who works hard enough to create something unique can be good at visual arts.”
[Redacted] typically uses singing and other artistic processes as a way to express herself; however, there have been times that she has used these things in a purely practical manner. [Redacted] said of her involvement in the musical “RENT,” “I actually auditioned because my best friend loves ‘RENT.’ She goes to Mount Holyoke and she said if I was in ‘RENT,’ she would come visit me to see it. I only auditioned for that reason, but it turned out to be a very wonderful experience.”