Suzy Stephens is a senior Studio Art major with a concentration in Computer Imaging/ Photography at OWU. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Suzy is excited to be in New York City.
Carianna Arredondo: So Suzy, how’d you get here?
Suzy Stephens: Well, even as a prospective student I thought that the New York Arts Program sounded very exciting when OWU’s recruiter mentioned it to me at a college fair. Back then I was some kind of crazy hopeful thinking that I would be an engineer and have some kind of art minor that would include NYAP. I guess that my attraction to and enthusiasm for the program from that early on was a giveaway.
I had two years of darkroom photography in high school and that’s ultimately what drew me back to the arts and into the BFA track—my love of all things photo. I started out with a point and shoot when I was younger and would just take pictures of myself out of boredom—actually I still take pictures of myself. Taking pictures of myself is what brought me to NYAP. Haha, easy, right? In reality I kicked my butt to get all those art classes in and to be on track to graduate in four years—and I’m glad I did.
CA: Sweet, so where are you interning and what do you do there?
SS: I am interning at the International Center for Photography, or ICP. I work at the school, though they also have a museum across the street. I have three roles and I’m there all the time—two days I’m there as an office intern for the education department, Saturdays I Teach-Assist (TA) a beginning Black & White photo I class, and on Friday nights I am the lead TA for “Teen FotoFriday”—a period of four hours where kids can come in and work solely because they are motivated to be there—not because they have to. The office work can be tough at times, and so is TA’ing—being on my feet for so long and trying to please the kids, the staff, the technical problems that arise, and the teachers—but somehow, when I get to sit down at the end of class (and realize how tired I am) a student giving me a simple “thanks, Suzy!” somehow makes it all okay.
I should also mention that a great perk about working at ICP is the use of their labs—each hour TA’ing is an hour that can be used for darkroom printing, film developing, or for use of their digital labs and printers.
CA: That’s awesome. I miss the darkroom too much sometimes. What are you expecting to get out of your time here in the city?
SS: Hmmm. Haha. A clue? I’m expecting to get a clue while I’m here. I’m definitely seeing that an artist’s career does not run in a smooth linear path—there’s no corporate ladder to climb. Maybe if you talk to someone who’s accomplished they will tell you points A, B, and C. But I’m thinking there’s a lot of X and Y that happens behind the scenes that they don’t always think to mention—I guess that’s really kind of freeing in a sense. So, I’m trying to know myself better and see what I can do as an artist. Overall I like the end goal of teaching, but I may want to do some more exploring—get my hands dirty so I can REALLY get down in there and tell kids why art matters and show them what you can do with it.
CA: That’s great. Just to change gears a bit, what are your top spots to hangout/decompress/etc.?
SS: Well ICP is right next to Bryant Park and it’s behind Times Square—over on 6th Ave and 43rd St. So, a lot of times I’ll go through Times Square when I’m getting off of work at 8:30 on Friday nights—crazy right? All the people? I will photograph or just see what crazy spectacle is going on. Other times I take the quiet route home and stroll past Bryant Park. Right now they have the Bank of America Winter Village up—they’ve got a huge ice rink and tons of little artist-vendor shops—great for gifts! Lastly, I have to put in another plug for ICP—their museum space isn’t huge but currently they have a show up with Zoe Strauss (whom I had the pleasure in meeting and photographing for the ICP facebook page) and get this—Lewis Hine! One of my heroes—and who should be a hero of everyone’s—he helped document the child labor movement; you’ve probably seen his work in your social studies textbook. Small space, but it packs a punch!
CA: Sounds awesome—so, lastly, what is one thing that you’ve learned here so far—it can be a skill developed or an epiphany, name one fact of life for me.
SS: Something I’ve realized, hmmm…It’s not so much as to where you are, but what you do with it. The dorm furniture at NYAP is the same as it is at OWU—it’s like having a scaled down version of last year’s living quarters to go home to—it looks the same—I might as well be in Ohio. You have to make yourself get out there and do things. You are going to love your housemates and get comfortable—but get out there. Buy the unlimited subway pass—it will be your license to explore. I didn’t want to drop $112 the first few months I was here just for transportation, but I finally conceded last week and boy, am I mad at myself for not doing it sooner. If you’re like me, take this tip for my supervisor: On a week when you have some free-time, buy the 7 day unlimited for $30.
And on deciding what you want to do—and remember this comes from someone who wasted so many valuable art-credit hours on engineering and computer science—really try to know yourself. It can be hard to do—but you really need to dig deep and cull out exactly the experience you want from NYAP. Don’t be afraid to ask your advisor for the right internship. No one is going to hand you what you want. You have to take it. It’s not where you are, but what you do with it. Be picky. Yes, another little factoid about me is that I turned down SNL in September. It wasn’t right for me. It was hard to do but it was the choice for me. Everyone is different.
I hope everyone here now and in the future can find what they are looking for. Be specific, be picky—but also know when to be open—and it goes without saying—have fun!
CA: Well stated. Thanks for your time Suzy.
If you want to see Suzy’s work on Zoe Strauss, visit:http://tinyurl.com/kgpt56v