Student Spotlight: Givens Parr ’11 Emerging Artist

Last winter term, a serendipidous mistake placed Givens Parr ’11 into Beginner’s Painting instead of Drawing. Parr discovered passion and prodigous skill with paints and brush that has motivated her to continue the craft in further classes. Students and faculty alike have praised Parr’s work. The Oliver Wendell Holmes Library has purchased one of her oil paintings for display. Parr spoke to The Phillipian about her journey through art. Q: How did you start painting? A: Last year, I was on the math track where you have a gap winter term and I had an arts requirement. I actually signed up for Drawing 1, but I didn’t get it and I was put into Painting 1. I really liked it and really dove into it. After that, I was like, “Psshh, Calculus…Morse won’t miss me.” So then, I took Painting 2 instead of math and now I’m taking Art 500 instead of math. Q: How did you decide to continue with art courses after just one term of Painting 1? A: I liked the stuff I was making and I knew that if I liked it, then I was going to keep doing it. Also, the process was just different than the work that I do [at PA]. It just flipped a switch and turned off the mental chatter in my brain. It was a very peaceful process. Also, Ms. Trespas is really great. This term is the fifth term I’ve had her and it was really fun to have her guidance when I was taking painting. She actually did a little jig when I showed up for Painting 2 and she was like, “Calculus can wait a while!” Q: What is your favorite subject to paint? A: It depends. I really like to do portraits. I guess I’m into people. They’re just so beautiful and broken and interesting. Q: Is oil painting your favorite medium? A: I did painting for two terms, and the fall of Art 500 was just exploring [other mediums]. Whenever we got to choose, I painted. This term, I am taking printmaking, so we’ll see where that goes. Q: What do you enjoy most about art at PA? A: It’s just a chance to use the other side of your brain. Being in the painting studio every day was nice because I like being in the space and being with people with lots of creative energy. The kids in Art 500 are really fun to be around because it’s just good to be around people who want to create beautiful things and have weird minds. Q: What is the most difficult aspect of being an artist at PA? A: A lot of the time, I don’t feel free to just pour all of my time and energy into something. [Everything] feels really rushed, which isn’t something that we can avoid. Just sometimes, I wish I could invest more in projects and more in myself, but it’s limiting time-wise and energy-wise. Q: Are you going to pursue art in the future? A: I hope so. I didn’t apply to any art schools because it’s such a big commitment and I don’t know if I’m ready to make that kind of commitment. I want to create beauty in the world and if I can do that through art, then I want to. Somehow, I’ll incorporate [art] into my life in college and beyond. Q: How do you feel about other people’s reactions to your artwork? A: Last year I did a self-portrait, which is a depiction of my face and a rotting apple core. I got some good feedback, but [the painting] was actually a really dark painting and reflected a lot of muddy stuff that I was going through, which nobody really got. [The feedback] didn’t frustrate me at all because it would be awkward if I had to explain to everyone. It was interesting to see people’s gut reaction. I also did a Bob Marley portrait, smoking a yellow crayon with primary color smoke coming out of his mouth and covering his face. I guess people could take that in a lot of different directions. Q: Do you hope for a certain kind of reaction? A: I think Ms. Trespas made a comment once that the most exciting thing is to see a reaction at all. It’s kinda sad when people are indifferent to art in general. I think that the reaction that I would hope for depends on the piece. I’m not that prolific. It’s not like I’m trying to make a statement with what I’m making thus far. When I find something that I want to say and use my art as a vehicle for that kind of belief, then that’s where my hope for a reaction will be. Until then, I just hope people will like [my art]. I think that style is something that develops over a long period of time. I’m sure that if I study longer I’ll pick up things that capture my eye.