University of Vermont

Sculpting an Art Major

Studio art major Jazmine Rodriguez exhibited her APLE-funded sculpture in Williams Hall in January.

Carting around colored plexiglass and steel rods will get you a look or two on a New York subway. Ask senior studio art major Jazmine Rodriguez, who learned that lesson while home in Bronx, N.Y., over winter break, gathering materials for a sculpture. Back in Vermont, she’s transformed what was once weighty and awkward to carry into a work of art  -- a creative exploration of shadow, repetition of line and the interplay of two- and three-dimensional forms.

Rodriguez undertook the work thanks to support from a competitive UVM APLE award, which provides funding for student research and creative projects. While she began her time at UVM as a chemistry major and says she “never would have imagined art as a major,” Rodriguez has found a home in the Department of Art and Art History. A series of assignments in Professor Kathleen Schneider’s “Beginning Sculpture” class, in particular, ignited Rodriguez’s excitement for the field.

It was there that Rodriguez first learned of Venezuelan sculptor Gertrude Goldschmidt, also known as Gego, whose work is an influence for the APLE sculpture. Timid at first about looking to others for inspiration, Rodriguez says it was Schneider who helped her find the confidence to let that inspiration in. “That can be a scary thing for students,” Rodriguez says, explaining the fear of “stealing” ideas and not creating an original piece.

Schneider describes a series of assignments in the course, including a research project on a 20th century sculptor, for which Rodriguez chose Gego. The work Rodriguez completed after doing the research, Schneider says, “took a giant leap from her previous piece — in concept, size, material, its interaction with space and the viewer, and in the technique she developed in the labor-intensive making of the sculpture. She worked harder than anyone else in the class to realize a piece of sculpture that was unique, sophisticated and well crafted.”

As a final assignment for that class, Schneider instructed the students to propose an ambitious sculpture to complete in the future. On the last day of class, “Jazmine spoke with conviction about her ‘working drawing’ and proposal,” Schneider remembers, “and told me that she planned to have a solo exhibition in her final semester at UVM.” Moving on to a drawing class with Professor Mildred Beltre, Rodriguez continued to work on the concept, and under Beltre’s suggestion, applied for the award. She fulfilled her goal to exhibit in January, a capstone on her art experience at UVM.

Rodriguez’s work, Schneider says, shows “a singular depth of focus, intention and stamina for hard work that will inspire other students to take on challenges as undergraduates.”

Learn more about UVM APLE funding.