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Liberal studies help Liu recognize calling as an artist

While preparing for her senior exhibition, Josephine Liu spent months pushing against the limits, real and perceived, of creating meaningful art from graphite, charcoal, and paper. Now she’s ready to explore animation and other art forms as she embarks on a year of post-baccalaureate studies at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Josephine Liu '13

Josephine Liu ’13

“I want to become a part of the future generation of artists who tell stories through their art,” she said.

In her photo-realistic drawings of females for her senior exhibition, Liu set out to explore the interface where sensuality becomes sexuality and objectification. Unexpectedly, she was confronted with early feedback from her peers that her art looked too much like magazine advertising. She credits Cornell’s art professors, in particular Tony Plaut, for inspiring her to push forward with even more meticulous attention to detail and dramatic textures as she developed her own style and symbolism.

“He spent a lot of time with me, talking about where I’m going with my life and my art. I had been really discouraged about my aesthetic, but he encouraged me to embrace it.”

Liu, who is from New Albany, Ohio, is now confronted with the challenge of proving herself in a world of art school graduates and working professionals with deeper portfolios, but she is glad she attended a small liberal arts school. Because art was something she had to create time for amidst all her other coursework and activities, she feels she has become a more self-motivated and passionate artist.

She also appreciates gaining the full breadth of liberal arts academics. She earned a second major in classical studies and found plenty of flexibility to take courses in religion and other areas of interest.

“I’ve always been interested in the ancient world, and what drew me to classics are the stories they told. A story isn’t one dimensional—there are so many ways to interpret them. It’s the same with art.”

Josephine Liu’s highlights

  • Senior art exhibition
  • Favorite courses
    • Classical Mythology
    • Gods, Goddesses, and Cults of the Roman World
    • Love and Sexuality in Greece and Rome