Newsletter | May/Jun 2018

Interview with Naomi Hawksley, YAX Scholarship awarded
by Naomi Hawksley

Naomi Hawksley

Tell us a little bit about your background.
I grew up in San Francisco in a residential part of the city, and spent most of my life focused on the more academic aspects of my education. For a long time, I didnít really know what I was interested in, so I spent a long time dipping my toe in afterschool activities like sports teams and performance-based forms of art making.

What are your general interests and goals in design?
I plan on studying painting and printmaking, but in general I want to be able to find a balance between the aesthetic and conceptual aspects of my work. I want to have an easily accessible toolbelt of skills in many mediums that I can easily manipulate in service of an idea. That, and more easily accept the changes work can go through during the process of making it. I find that I have a hard time letting go of what I once wanted for a piece.

Naomi's project sample

How did you come to design? And why did you decide to study this field?
Among the many activities I dabbled in outside of school, I found that I especially gravitated toward art classes. At first, I thought it was more of a hobby. Coming from a conservative Asian family, art as a career is typically frowned upon, but I thought it was a great way to pass the time and organize my thoughts. However, my experience attending an intensive arts program at CalArts called CSSSA would redefine my outlook on artwork as a valid career choice. Until that point, I had never actually seen artists teach and sell their own work to get by; it made me realize that a career in the arts was even feasible. I must also admit that it was, for lack of better term, pretty magical being surrounded by other creatives, peers and teachers alike, for an entire summer. Unlike the largely competitive environments in my academia, the CSSSA community was supportive and inclusive through and through.
After attending this program, I knew that art was something I wanted to take seriously, and I began participating in more programs outside of school and assisting in various studios. I want to further my skills in art school to immerse myself in the artistic community, to challenge my perceptions of the world, and hopefully do the same for whoever sees my work.

Naomi's project sample

Naomi's project sample

What have been the challenges in this process as a woman?
I feel that when people see me standing with my work, their first observation of the piece is that itís very feminine. I donít really know what that means, but I donít think theyíre really saying anything about the work- only about who has made it. I think people have a hard time seeing past the fact that whatever work was made by a woman, that the scope of it is then lessened, like the female lens is more limiting than any other.
In the classroom, however, I think dynamics are really shifting in a positive direction. A lot of the arts classes Iíve taken have had a female majority. Young women today are being told that they are just as capable as everyone else, and I feel like we are taking advantage of the opportunities presented to us more than ever before.

How did you hear about the scholarship and how did you feel when you heard you are nominated for that?
I heard about the scholarship at a Youth Art Exchange faculty meeting. When I got nominated I was pretty pumped, and was really excited about the writing aspect of it. In school, there arenít many opportunities for such subjective writing, let alone topics of feminism and the importance of women in the art world.

How do you see your future in design field and specifically as a women in this field?
I hope to become a participant in the field whose work is viewed beyond the lens of ďmade by a womanĒ- my work aims to broaden oneís scope of vision, after all. I want to contribute to the artistic community, and support small, local artists as others have done for me.