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Senior studios give art students freedom to create

Like all studio art majors, Sam Bonow received a key to his own private studio space at the beginning of his senior year, and he’s made the most of it. With most of his other graduation requirements complete, Bonow is spending six of his last nine blocks at Cornell creating paintings in his studio during independent study tutorials.

Bonow paints for four to five hours a day and has enjoyed the freedom to create. “If you’re motivated, being allowed the structured time to work and not have any other concerns is extraordinarily liberating and rewarding,” he said.

He also appreciates the close mentoring relationship he’s developed with his advisor, art professor Tony Plaut.  Every week or so Plaut drops by Bonow’s studio to offer feedback, suggest ideas, and help Bonow reflect on his work.

“Having a one-on-one relationship with the professor is extraordinarily helpful,” Bonow said.  “My work before this was all two dimensional. Tony pointed this out to me and got me to think about working in 3-D, and everything really took off from there.”

Plaut also helped Bonow think about the creative process of making his art as he worked towards his senior show in Luce Gallery. “I have been encouraged to let the work I create dictate the theme for my show rather than the other way around,” Bonow said.

By February, Bonow’s studio was already lined with a dozen or so large, colorful oil paintings. As he begins each new abstract painting, Bonow attempts to build on the last in related but distinct ways, and he said he’s enjoyed getting feedback and insights from fellow senior studio denizens.

“Each person has a different interpretation of what these images are and sees something different in them.  I think the common thread is that there are definitely elements of the human body in all of them.”

Bonow plans to eventually pursue an master’s degree in fine arts after Cornell.