By: Lily Gottlieb
You may have noticed the brightly colored, deliciously garish posters that have popped up in the hallways advertising BERLIN! GLASGOW!! PARIS!!! And you may have immediately discounted them. Or, like me, you may have thought “Hmm, A whole semester outside of Stevenson Ranch…” and walked on over to International Studies Advisor Penelope Weston’s office for more information.
Having just returned from a semester abroad at the Glasgow School of Art, I was excited to see these photo-montage style advertisements pop up near my (dearly missed) studio door. Before embarking on my Glaswegian adventure, I had only a theoretical sense of how incredibly important such an experience might be for me as an artist, a human being and, more immediately, a CalArtian.
I think we can all agree that CalArts is nothing if not complicated. While it may seem paradoxical to advocate running six thousand miles away from Valencia as fast as you can to ‘make the best of’ one’s time here at CalArts, it is the most honest advice I can give. There is no amount of critical thinking or sarcastic remarking to be done that can bring one the incredible perspective that comes with living in a brand new city, in a brand new culture, while attending a brand new school.
Granted, Glasgow is anything but ‘brand new.’ It is a historically rich city boasting a strong connection to the arts and crafts movement and a fascinating history of transformation from a gritty industrial center to a rich cultural hub for art, music and education. This kind of complex culture is just one of the countless benefits to temporarily leaping out of the ticky-tacky aesthetic of our Californian suburbs.
Perhaps the most important part of any such experience is also the most difficult: coming home. This is the area where the priceless perspective, the connections made and the work accomplished are put to the test. Since my return, I have felt the challenge. How can I come back to the little boxes I flew over on the descent to LAX and feel at home again? Make art again?
I cannot answer this from experience yet, as I have only been back for three days at the time I am writing, but I can say that I am bursting. I am bursting with thoughts, fears, desires, satisfaction and disappointment, memories both wonderful and horrible. There is also so much I have missed from our fortress on the hill. I am delighted to return to the efficiency of Darrell Walters’ Photo Lab, the accessibility and resourcefulness of our faculty and the incredibly wonderful facilities staff who keep our campus alive 24/7.
So while I adjust to this re-entry, I will leave you with this: get out. Go! Now. You will love your life more.
But come back. We will miss you and we’re not quite done with you yet…
Lillian Gottlieb is a BFA2 in Photography & Media.