Arts & Life, Fine & Performing Arts, Special Projects

CSULB arts students share their summer projects

Sienna Ramirez said she wanted to be a superstar since she was in preschool. Someone who had their name on display somewhere or had their image “on a big screen,” she said.

She described herself as the type of person in school who was at the back of the classroom, doodling in their notes and on their homework. When she was 13 years old, she took notice of how her art would affect people when she gifted it to them.

“I had made someone like a plushie or an illustration and/or an illustration of their own characters, and I was like ‘I could make people happy with this’,” she said. “This is something I could put my energy into.”

Ramirez, second-year student at Long Beach State majoring in pre-studio art, spent this last summer finishing up multiple projects. Describing themself as a multimedia artist, Ramirez’s works range from acrylic paintings to hand-sewn plushies and more. She even handmade a mask for the “Monsterpalooza” convention, reminiscent of the Ghostface mask from the “Scream” movie franchise.

“I gotta keep up,” she said, “Can’t get all rusty you know?”

When time came to apply for colleges in high school, Ramirez said she knew a number of their peers who were hesitant to declare a major or even attend university after graduating, some opting to attend community college until they had figured out what they really wanted to do.

“But for me, when I was picking it was like there was no thought in my mind, it was art immediately,” she said.

Ramirez wasn’t the only CSULB artist keeping busy this summer.

Julia Russell and Kendall Chatham were also preoccupied but for a different form of art. Russell, a third-year, and Chatham, a fourth-year, both majoring in Bachelor of Fine Arts, have been creating their own choreographed dances for the upcoming CSULB Department of Dance show, “Variance,” since late spring of this year, according to the associate professor of dance Rebecca Lemme.

Russell said that during the summer she and her group rehearsed for two hours every Thursday, eventually upping it to three hours, all while working as a dance instructor. She said one of the challenges she experienced while choreographing her piece was facing imposter syndrome.

“I found out I got in the BFA program and I found out I was doing this piece like within a couple months of each other and I always dreamed of choreographing for the show,” she said. “So it just came a lot sooner than I thought it would.”

One of the other challenges Russell faced was also trying to work around everyone’s summer schedules so they would be able to rehearse enough. However, despite the challenges she faced, Russell said she found motivation through professor Lemme.

“I just I respect her so much and I have watched so much of her work, and I love it,” Russell said, “And so I think that’s really kept me motivated, wanting to impress my professors, because I think that they have a lot of confidence in me that sometimes I don’t have for myself.”

Chatham choreographed with her dancers in California via video rehearsals from her home in Mansfield, Texas. One of her dancers dropped out of the show during the summer, but an understudy was able to fill in the role.

“That was one [challenge] but she kind of just fit in perfectly,” she said.

Chatham plans on using her piece in the show to help apply for graduate school with hopes of getting into the University of Texas, Austin to eventually earn a Master’s Degree in dance.

“I think I will love to see it and I will probably have a weight lifted off of me,” she said.

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