Student artists explore their craft on campus


Photo Courtesy of Farwah Tariq's Instagram

An oil painting of a skull inspired by Pieter Claesz and painted by Farwah Tariq, senior in FAA, is shown above. University students show off their creative abilities on campus.

By Aidan Finn, Staff Writer

There are many various pockets of beauty and inspiration artists found around campus.

Iffat Memon, junior in Business, finds inspiration in some expected places, even for the most unconventional of mediums.

“When designing this semester’s accounting club t-shirts, I drew the Foellinger auditorium and the quad,” Memon said.

Memon is one of an uncountable number of students practicing in art around campus — many like her not even directly majoring in the skill — rather using such for whatever goals imaginable.

“I think it’s truly satisfying seeing a piece start off as a concept in my head, coming together in the form of line art and then becoming fully completed as a colored piece,” Memon said.

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She would elaborate on taking inspiration from nature and people around campus, combining concepts of symbolism and creativity to tell stories through art pieces.

“For this art piece, I used sunset-based colors because they are some of my favorite colors,” Memon said. “The colors are pastels because my friends are supportive, purposeful and bright and like rays of sunshine, even on the cloudiest of days where things feel very repetitive and black and white. I also love the idea of mandalas and my drawing symbolizes how even though things can feel black and white (like the mandalas) the rays of sunshine can make everything have a sense of happiness and brightness.”

Many assert that not all art has to be so symbolic. This goes for Iris Xu’s cute and humorous work. An upperclassman in the ECE department, her artwork has seemingly gone viral in the form of humorous yet relatable comics posted on the r/UIUC subreddit.

“It used to just be between my friends, but I decided to post them because it seems like a lot of people relate,” Xu said.

Xu cites being interested in art as early as fifth grade but hasn’t had the chance to really learn art professionally.

“It’s just a hobby as of now, ” Xu said. “I would like to try to make art a living, but it’s pretty difficult to do anything because of the engineering workload. For now, I just have an Etsy and do freelance commission work!”

The comic medium has always battled negative feelings of childishness, overcoming its superhero trappings in popular culture. Nonetheless, her artwork of campus-themed fun has surely brought smiles to anyone browsing the web.

What cannot be ignored, is the extensive and highly talented work being done by students actively participating in the University’s various artwork courses. Not just a general education class for a quick 3-hour credit, but people like Farwah Tariq, senior in FAA, who has an artistic drive to make it big.

“I started creating and seriously considering myself as an ‘art person’ around fourth grade when I sold little drawings to classmates for a quarter,” Tariq said. “As you may assume from my major, I am pursuing art as a career through teaching. I was inspired to choose art education due to my own high school art teacher who helped me reignite my interest in art-making and showed how I could make a career of it.”

A transfer from Minnesota, Tariq aims to better her skills with every exercise, but like many other student artists not as career-driven, she can still find collective beauty and inspiration from as close as the mysterious but adorable bunnies outside the Ikenberry Dining Hall.

“I love the ecosystem that exists on campus,” Tariq said.“My favorite thing that I can remember is walking around late one spring night and seeing hoards of bunnies wherever I went. So cute!”

Getting into the medium, even on a passive, recontional note, requires one to find confidence to better one’s skill and aim constantly to improve. Tariq, like many, praises the University for its extensive and great programs on the subject.

“Perhaps most important is the wonderful art ed program here, where we are taught that teaching can be our art practice just as much as we might consider painting or sculpting to be,” Tariq said. “The U of I has also broadened my capabilities as far as what I am able to create. Before coming here, I’d never considered myself to be more of a 3D than a 2D artist, and I certainly would not have discovered my love for textile-based art,” she said.

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