Arnela Mahmutovic '17

I have been pushed outside of my comfort, a very tight academic approach to painting, into alternative methods of describing form. I am slowly learning to become fearless in my practice and embrace experimentation.

Describe a body of work that you are currently working on.
I am currently exploring the contrasts between my Bosnian upbringing and how moving to America created an intense shift in my personal development. My primary medium of choice is oil paint, but more recently I’ve been diving back into my love for drawing at an attempt to find a relationship between the two. I use the human figure as a vehicle to directly connect to a viewer emotionally. I describe inner turmoil through the portrayal of an outside force being inflicted upon these figures– this is an attempt to relate back to my concepts while also leaving room for the viewers own interpretation.

What made you chose to study art?
As a child I’ve always resolved problems visually; this carried through to my high school years until ultimately deciding upon a Fine Art focus at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York. After receiving an Associates Degree, I wanted to continue my studies and transferred to MECA. My work has always been strongest two dimensionally but I am hoping to expand beyond that comfort into something more sculptural or installation based. I felt that the painting major would give me the most freedom in realizing my ideas.

How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist? How has your practice changed over time?
While I did not spend my first two years of schooling at MECA, I feel that my artistic practice has been greatly influenced by the professors and curriculum since being here. I have been pushed outside of my comfort, a very tight academic approach to painting, into alternative methods of describing form. I am slowly learning to become fearless in my practice and embrace experimentation. I think a lot of strong ideas have gone to waste because I have convinced myself out of them, so I am attempting to resolve this.

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What inspires you?
My greatest inspiration comes from the people I surround myself with. I have been lucky enough to have an incredibly motivated and talented group of individuals during my time at both Hudson Valley and MECA . Their honesty and support is what keeps me pushing through any obstacles in the studio.

What do you hope to do after graduation?
After graduation I’d like to continue my studies into a MFA Program. Ultimately my hopes are to pursue a career in teaching, but I would enjoy working within a curatorial field as well.

What’s the advice you’ve ever received?
As I was finishing my last year at my previous school, I spent a couple hours in my professor’s office panicking about my transfer to MECA. What resonated with me most was, “The worst thing that could happen in your career as an artist is convincing yourself you’re not qualified to be one. There will be plenty of people who will tell you this along the way– don’t be one of them and give em hell.”

Arnela Mahmutovic