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HHS graduate pursues passion in art school

Snell-Feikema+talks+about+her+art+at+a+senior+fine+arts+showcase.
Snell-Feikema talks about her art at a senior fine arts showcase.

Snell-Feikema talks about her art at a senior fine arts showcase.

Courtest of Maria Snell-Feikema

Courtest of Maria Snell-Feikema

Snell-Feikema talks about her art at a senior fine arts showcase.

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Maria Snell-Feikema would much rather express herself through art than “express in terms of x” in an algebra class. Now studying at the Art Foundation Program at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, Snell-Feikema has been enjoying her freedom to follow her passion.

“I don’t think I have a mind for conventional academics. Of course some people do, but I personally don’t find most of it that satiating. Art is one of those things that I’ve always loved, and that I’ve always had a knack for. I just want to explore art as much as I can and discover all of the things you can say and do with it,” Snell-Feikema said.

Although most people that attend a four-year college consider themselves to be following a path for their future career, Snell-Feikema is just taking everything in stride as she tries to appreciate everything art school has to offer.

“I’m not necessarily concerned with creating a ‘path’ for my life. I decided I wanted to go to art school because that’s what I want at this moment. I think it’s good to be open when it comes to life and to just focus on taking one step a time,” Snell-Feikema said.

Snell-Feikema is now embracing college where she would have rejected high school. For her, it’s not just about education as much as it is about personal development and experiencing life.

“My experience with college so far has been really awesome. I’m still amazed that I actually want to do assignments now. Art school is incredibly different than anything I did in high school,” Snell-Feikema said. “The instructors that I’ve had so far have really focused on thinking outside of the norm, or a given formula, which is highly enlightening. I felt that in high school I was often pressured to do the opposite, which I think stunted my progress, not just in my art, but in my personal growth as well.”

The uniqueness of her education is rivaled only by the uniqueness of the city itself. Richmond provides Snell-Feikema with the environment and positive atmosphere she’s been looking for.

“Richmond has been a really good place to live. Everything is really close by; there [are] about ten coffee shops within a .5 mile radius of my apartment. The architecture is beautiful. There’s a big music scene,” Snell-Feikema said. “There [are] an alarming number of punks, but the punk shows are really good for when you’re stressed out and you need an outlet to channel your rage. There’s just a lot of really interesting people in Richmond in general, and I appreciate that. I don’t feel like I have to adhere to any standard, which is refreshing.”

For Snell-Feikema, one of the major benefits of attending art school is being surrounded by others with the same passion.

“My favorite part has been being in an environment where people take what I love to do seriously. It’s so liberating having instructors and peers that support your ideas, even when they’re completely bizarre,” Snell-Feikema said.

College confirmed what Snell-Feikema already thought when attending HHS: you should focus on your health and your happiness, not overstress about standards and norms.

“I would spend way less of my time concerned about high school. In fact, if I could go back in time, I would probably just graduate early and take time off,” Snell-Feikema said. “High school was the absolute worst time of my life, but it’s only four years. You’ll never see these people again, so don’t be afraid of them. Plus, you’re almost free! Enjoy being naive. Trust your instincts. Prioritize your mental health! Take care of yourself.”

So far, Snell-Feikema has enjoyed challenging herself in art and looks forward to continuing to do so.

“For my final project I collaborated with my friend to make a video focused on shadows, reflections and parts of our lives that appear to be coming from another dimension. In the end it turned out to be something I truly felt came from us. It’s incredibly satisfying to create something that is thought-provoking and that came from a place you wouldn’t be able to explain otherwise,” Snell Feikema said.

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HHS graduate pursues passion in art school