For me concept always comes first, and then the medium is what shapes and translates it into a physical form.

-Alicia Alvisa Rodriguez, BFA

For me concept always comes first, and then the medium is what shapes and translates it into a physical form. My first year, I was focused on taking mostly photo classes and using them as a way to explore the female identity with hair as my motif. My main focus was to learn as much as I could about photography both technically and conceptually. The photo classes I took allowed me to translate my ideas into the medium while working on writing about my projects as well. I also took a class on art and philosophy that really pushed me to start thinking about how to incorporate more theory into my work.

When I started at SMFA, identity was a very broad term for me. I came here as an international student from Cuba, a country where race was not a big topic. I soon realized that in America I’m considered a person of color and that’s something that I hadn’t internalized. By my second year I felt ready to start researching and learning more about it so I could eventually bring it into my work. Also, taking a class in feminism got me interested in activism and incorporating that into my work. My feminism classes really opened my eyes about what it is to be a woman and person of color in the U.S. I used the readings from my classes to develop a more cohesive body of work.

As I continued, I started to explore other mediums besides photography and dig further into the idea of identity as a theme. I always took photo the most seriously, but then I would allow myself to go a bit crazier and be freer with my concepts in my other classes. I learned the benefit of not being so controlling with my work. I ended up producing a photo series about being split between two cultures that won the Yousuf Karsh Prize and videos about struggling to discover new parts of my identity which earned me the Springborn Award. Finding performance and video afforded me a new kind of freedom.

At the beginning, I said I’m only going to do photography, but being at SMFA helped me realize that there were other mediums like performance and dance that I could use as tools in my work.

-Alicia Alvisa Rodriguez, BFA