Whitecliffe Educated: Student Experience

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Whitecliffe Educated: Student Experience

Born and raised in Iran, Mahsa Khosravi is in her final year of studying towards her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Whitecliffe. She originally came to New Zealand in 2005 and previously studied science at the University of Auckland. Mahsa first realized at a young age that she could express herself though art, when she started studying marquetry “the traditional art in Iran that is creating a picture or design with a variety of coloured and textured wood.” She continues, “my mother used to draw and weave rugs when she was young. Also, my older sister studied graphic design, but I didn’t think that I would be able to do any type of art. However, when I started marquetry, I felt very alive.”

When asked about her reasons for selecting Whitecliffe, she says “James Lawrence, my art teacher (and Whitecliffe Continuing Education tutor) at Lake House Arts in Takapuna, recommended that I apply to Whitecliffe, where I would be able to receive the perfect balance of practical and theoretical art making. I also realised that I would be able to have better, more focused interactions with the lecturers than at University of Auckland, as I sometimes have challenges within my projects and felt that I would flourish with more one-on-one attention. Whitecliffe faculty members Melanie FerDon and Henry Symonds have been a very important support and inspiration for me at school.”

Her decision to study Fine Arts wasn’t immediate. Mahsa says “apart from marquetry, I didn’t think or try to do any other type of art before July 2012 until I had a serious discussion about what I wanted to do after completing my science degree at Auckland University. I always felt that I wanted to do something else really fulfilling. I started to draw and paint, then put together a portfolio to apply to Whitecliffe. During the first year of my studies at Whitecliffe, I was not sure about which major I would pursue as everything was fairly new to me and exciting. By term four, I decided to continue with fine arts, which gave me more freedom to express my ideas and feelings. Also, having lecturers available to talk to and discuss issues related to my projects is very important for me. The curriculum planned each year is designed to help us learn and improve ourselves, to understand different aspects of art and be ready for the real world out there.”

When asked about how she integrates her own Persian culture into her studies at Whitecliffe, Mahsa says that it was “very hard at the beginning. I come from the Eastern/Persian world of art and culture, which has a very different point of view to Western art and culture. I knew very little about these differences before studying fine arts. Adjusting was hard, but became interesting, as I figured out that I could mix the two cultures in this hybrid space. Now, I really enjoy merging these two unique cultural perspectives, which gives me more broad and interesting ideas to work with.” She started working on “abstract marquetry, which is a new take on such a traditional art. The idea might not be so complicated, but I am considering merging 2D and 3D, working on layers, depth and various compositions, as well as adding other materials in addition to wood.” As for what motivates and inspires her, Mahsa says “my husband inspires and supports me the most. He always listens to me, helps me to find a solution and pushes me to move forward. He is a professional musician himself and understands art very well, which is a huge advantage for me to have him by my side.”

Her advice to prospective students considering studying fine arts: “I didn’t know that studying fine arts would get me to where I am today. If you are really passionate about art, then just do it. Although, it is not as easy as people think and needs a lot of practice, discipline and patience.” Within the next five to ten years, Mahsa hopes to continue her own studio practice and become an art teacher. She says “studying at Whitecliffe and having the constant support of lecturers, gives me hope to achieve my dreams.”

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