Linda Obobaifo, Class of May 2022
- College of Fine and Applied Arts
I decided to major in Painting towards the end of my high school career after I took a beginning painting class and loved it. I had originally planned to pursue English as a major, but ultimately decided to major in painting. And then during my sophomore year I declared a second major in graphic design briefly, but found it just wasn’t right for me, so I moved towards minoring in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Poetry. I have always loved poetry and have been writing consistently since the eighth grade. I thought that that path was the best option for me.
I had various opportunities to work in multimedia within my program. Many of my peers and studio faculty were very helpful in enabling me to explore multiple disciplinary fields and media, such as working with fabrics, poetry, music, and more. Composing music was something I was able to consistently experience and explore.
A moment during my senior year that was particularly meaningful to me was when a junior student interested in art came up to me during an award ceremony, and we began discussing studio practice. We visited my studio, and she was so excited to learn more about painting and the possibilities of her future in art and studio work. It was rewarding to be able to show her an example of what a professional future in painting might look like.
While at Illinois, a lot of my peers and studio faculty helped guide me through doubts and concerns that I had throughout the painting process. It’s very challenging to find which artistic route you want to take and in what ways you can most effectively use your voice to make an impact within your community, as well as on a global scale. So, it was helpful to have peers who were willing to give feedback, whether it was during formal critique or not. It was great to be able to have many different voices and eyes looking at my work.
I applied broadly to graduate schools across the country simply because I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go geographically. Ultimately, I landed on Boston University, which I had actually looked at during my undergraduate college search. I was looking for a program that really emphasized the arts and music, and I knew that Boston University also had a School of Music. There’s also a great history of poetry and poets who have resided at that university. I felt it integrated all three of my practices with visual arts, poetry, and music, and it wound up being the best option for me.
My MFA program has a lecture series where visiting artists from around the world come in and give lectures, which I greatly enjoy. On top of that, they also visit us in our studio spaces one-on-one, which allows for us to hear more about their stories and careers in painting. Having that one-on-one connection between artists is very helpful to me, as are my peers and studio faculty, who provide support and critiques throughout each semester.
In the future, I would love to work in gallery and museum spaces, not only just showing my work, but also being able to curate. I’m currently involved in two different organizations where I help to install and curate for exhibition shows. It’s been very beneficial to me as an artist to see the process and behind-the-scenes work. Supporting other artists in general is very important to me and is something that I definitely see in my future. I also see myself teaching, simply because my mom grew up teaching within my school district, and I always wanted to teach in some way, shape, or form.
To current students, I’d say to trust in the process and to know that every single dip and obstacle that you face is meant to be there. It may seem challenging or uncomfortable at times to keep the same energy and motivation, but I feel like accepting that uncomfortable-ness of not knowing exactly where you’re going is actually very helpful. I’d also recommend looking back on your experience in the future, and I think you will realize that everything did in fact happen for a reason. So, just trust in the process and trust in being uncomfortable.