Each week, The Mac Weekly interviews a senior who specializes in an artistic field. This week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Vincent Siegerink, a double major from an art and economics workshop. Vincent has had a multi-faceted career at Mac, which has included several major art projects.
TMW: Where are you from?
VS: I come from Holland. Just a small town in Holland.
TMW: Do you have other majors?
VS: I’m also an economics student, which is a bit weird because sometimes it feels like one department hates the other. Economics professors could trap sociology or art or something, and vice versa. Art majors are not always sympathetic to economics majors, which I fully understand.
TMW: How do you find the balance between these things?
VS: I think they complement each other very well. They are so different, and I think doing both adds to the breadth of your perspective. I don’t think they are contradictory. But sometimes I have to think to myself, “Oh yeah, these economic majors! “
TMW: Did you always know you were going to become an art major?
VS: Not at all, no. I came to Mac with the intention of being in economics and didn’t take art classes until the second semester of sophomore year. And at the time, I had a lot of friends in their senior year who were art majors and I just thought what they were doing was really cool. And I thought, “why don’t you try it,” so I painted and sketched in the same semester. I loved it so it continued. It just happened.
TMW: So what are you currently working on?
VS: So we have a cornerstone that we need to do for the senior show. And I actually paint, which scares me a lot because I only took one painting lesson on Mac. I don’t really feel comfortable in it, the painting is so difficult and it takes so long. I actually put the first brush on my canvas yesterday so I officially started but it’s going to be a long process. The work focuses on global economic structures and power inequalities within these economic structures, and in particular on factory workers in Bangladesh. I want to paint factory workers, because in the past there was this kind of current in art called social realism and it still exists today and it mainly focuses on portraying working class people. I have the impression that this kind of theme still exists but has sort of disappeared from the painting. I think it would be very interesting to paint in a similar way, looking at it from a modern perspective.
TMW: It’s super interesting. What inspired you to use Bangladeshi factory workers?
VS: I was in Bangladesh this summer actually. I didn’t work or do anything with the factory workers, but I did work with the Grameen Bank, which is a micro-bank. How did I get there specifically? This is partly explained by the collapse of a factory in Bangladesh last year, [which] killed a thousand people. There has been a lot more debate about this and there has been increased awareness, so I guess I kind of took inspiration from that.
TMW: What has been your favorite project in Macalester so far?
VS: I have a lot of stories about my 2D design course [that] I would like to tell you. So we had this 2D design class, there were about eight or nine students, and that was in the bookstore building, and our teacher was called Gudrun Lock. She’s an assistant professor so she only teaches one class a year and she’s both so smart and crazy and really inspiring. She really wanted us to do some sort of artistic creation experience, so for example, we went on a trip once, just an outing – we went outside, and our exercise was that we couldn’t walk the paths. existing. So we would just like to cross into people’s gardens, this woman almost called the police… that was hilarious! And we just took that kind of really crazy road through the neighborhood, and then we saw this guy, he had this truck and he was at the gas station and she [Lock] was like “Sir, sir, can we take a ride with you?” So we all hopped in the back of his truck and shot Snelling down. He said to me: “Where do you want to go?” and we were like “wherever you go” then after a mile south or something he ran out of gas, and what happened was we had to push him at a gas station. So there we were, eight art students, and we were pushing this guy’s truck down the street to a gas station.
TMW: He’s lucky you jumped on board!
VS: I know, yeah! He was lucky and it was just such a strange coincidence. Another great thing about this class, me and my friend, my roommate Diaga who is also an art major, we had to do something politically inspired, and that was during election season so we are went to Woodbury, Minnesota which is a really conservative neighborhood. We spray painted things on the streets there, mine was about the gay rights law they were passing and his was just about the general election. So we went there at 3am in the middle of the night, it was pitch black, it was that neighborhood, that we knew to be super conservative, and here we were spraying their streets. And I just remember we were sitting in the car next to each other, and we were like, “Okay, are we going to do it here?” Okay… ”And we just couldn’t get out of the car because we were both so nervous and so scared. And so we sprayed it and walked away and we were so scared. We did this in several different places and then we came back to report to our class and Gudrun, the teacher said, “Oh yeah, the first time is always scary. She was just always so cool and understanding and really cool.
TMW: Do you find that a lot of your work is politically inspired? Or where do you generally get your inspiration from?
VS: That’s a good question. Personally, I think art is a great way to express your own beliefs and concerns about the world and issues. I think, yeah, it’s definitely a topic I explore a lot, but another is also just myself and my own identity and the way I go through life, so it’s not necessarily political.
TMW: Would you say painting is your favorite medium to work in?
VS: Well, it might not be my favorite, but I think it’s helpful to use more traditional medium and learn more traditional medium. And what I also love about painting is that wherever I find myself later in life, and wherever I go, I can always buy a canvas and paint and start painting. For example, with engraving there is a lot to do. With paint you can do anything, and it’s colorful, which I love too.
TMW: So tell me about your background in art and when you started doing it.
VS: Of course! So my mom is actually an artist, and she paints, but it’s funny because my dad is a businessman, and here I’m an art and economics studio. When I was young my mom always made us, not us, but we always drew because there were artistic things around and it was awesome. But I think in high school I just lost touch [with] and I didn’t do it anymore, and I didn’t even really think about doing it at all. My first year at Mac, I didn’t think about doing art. It wasn’t until I realized that when you are doing art you can (like with all the other majors in school you are still learning something and taking information and using other people’s point of view. ) with art you can do anything. You can create something that doesn’t exist, and you can add something to the world instead of just pulling things out. I really like this idea, so I guess that’s why I started doing it. And my mother would take us to museums. In Holland you have the great Dutch painters of the 17th century and she would always explain to us what that means, and I was always like “Of course, mum” and she was like “No, look at this!” and now that I’ve taken art history classes, I can better appreciate what she was telling us.
TMW: Would you say that your art has developed a lot over the past couple of years (on Mac) or has changed significantly?
VS: I feel like I haven’t done enough. School is so busy, and so I’m doing stuff for the classes I’m taking but I feel like I haven’t really had the space and the spare time to build on each medium because each class kind of teaches you a new medium and then you have to move on.
TMW: What other things are you involved in at Mac? And how has this influenced your art?
VS: Well, I was part of the Macalester Development Group for three years, and I was the chairman for one year. International development has been of great interest to me and so I think that’s definitely a reason why I would choose this topic for my senior show. I was abroad last semester. Now that I’m a senior doing two capstones, I sort of can’t keep up [on past leadership roles].
TMW: What do you plan to do after Macalester?
VS: It’s kind of like my four-year struggle to decide if I should continue with something more economical or if I want to do something more with art. It’s incredibly difficult to decide. From now on, the idea is that I have a normal career and that I do art in parallel.
TMW: Do you think you will travel more? Or stay in the United States?
VS: I think I want to come back closer to my family, but maybe not necessarily go back to Holland. I was in Paris last semester and loved it, would love to go back.
TMW: have you studied abroad [in Paris] to combine econ and art?
VS: I did it like that. I took all of the arts courses at SANSPO (study abroad program), which weren’t that many. But I took a cool visual culture class. Our school is five minutes from the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, so I feel like you’re really interactive there.