Studio Art senior Riley Young talks about her on and off-campus projects

Senior Riley Young is described by her professors as hardworking and engaged.

“Riley has a real passion and hunger for learning and experimenting and making,” Emily Lambert, Young’s academic advisor, said.

Paul McMullan, one of Young’s professors, shares similar sentiments about Young’s work ethic. “She takes an assignment to do 10 mugs and she does 20,” McMullan said. “In the first four weeks of school, she’s working really hard.”

Young initially came to Keene State College as a biology major, but couldn’t drop her passion for art, specifically ceramics. “I had done a lot of art in high school and I really loved ceramics and I thought, going into college, that I was like ‘Oh, I think I’m going to give it up and I’m going to try something else.’ And that didn’t really work,” Young said.

Currently enrolled in eight credits worth of ceramics courses, Young is working on a variety of ceramics projects. She is in the process of finishing a series of 20 mugs, and will then move on to making ceramic bowls. “In ceramics, in the next couple of weeks, we’re going to start working on bowls, which I love throwing bowls, so I’m super excited about that,” Young said.

McMullan said Young’s work ethic and artistic talent can be seen through her mug project. “She’s really pushing herself,” McMullan said. “She takes all of my suggestions and stuff and really goes with it.”

Having Young as a student in one of her painting courses, Lambert concurs with the notion of Young always going above and beyond with her work. “It was a great pleasure having her in painting last semester. She went above and beyond with all of her assignments and really opened up to exploring new materials and ways of painting and exploring the paint,” Lambert said.

This semester, Young has a fellowship with the ThorneSagendorph Art Gallery. Currently, Young is working on cataloging the David E. White Children’s Illustration collection, which will be on display starting October 2.

“I’m taking all of the images that had been previously hanging in [Rhodes Hall] and I’m taking all those because they were becoming desaturated just by having been hung on the walls for so long and I’m turning them into a virtual catalog,” Young said.

Through this fellowship, Young is hoping to gain valuable first-hand experience about working in galleries, an area in which she was previously unfamiliar. “I feel like I’m learning a lot about galleries,” Young said. “I had no experience with any galleries going into it.”

Young is also the president of KSC’s Art Collective. Lambert, who also serves as the academic advisor to the Art Collective, said Young has been working to build a community of artists through the Art Collective.

“She’s taken the leadership role as the president of the Art Collective to get more people to come together to create [an] art community amongst the students,” Lambert said.

Outside the classroom, Young is currently working on a papercut project of a photo she took over the summer of the Golden Gate Bridge. “Over the summer, I went to San Francisco and I took a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, and I am now turning it into a papercut,” Young said. “I took the picture and then drew it on a piece of paper, and then I cut it out, so all that remains is like the lines that would be in a drawing.”

Young said she frequently combines photography with her art as a way to challenge herself artistically. “I’ll take pictures and then turn them into paper cuts, just as another thing to do with photography, just as a way to push it a little further for myself,” Young said.

Lambert took note of Young’s ability to push herself as an artist as a way to improve. ”Riley is always looking for new ways to challenge herself and to grow her experiences in the art field,” Lambert said.

Preparing to set her sights beyond Keene State College, Young is looking at graduate schools for education, hoping to become an art teacher. “Right now I’m in an eighth grade classroom. I’m volunteering at a middle school and I’m really enjoying that,” Young said.

Throughout his time working with her, McMullan said Young has evolved into a focused artist. “She’s taking things really seriously and has been focused on the future,” McMullan said.

Lambert echoed this, “She’s someone who keeps herself really engaged and busy, engaged with making and looking and thinking about art.”

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