Student Profile: Liz Maelane '19
Liz Maelane is a long way from home. Her adventurous spirit brought her from her hometown of Johannesburg to Kenya and finally to Boston to pursue an art degree. Liz chose to attend the SMFA at Tufts because she was looking for an interdisciplinary program that catered to her diverse interests. She explained, "it suited me better to have a more open curriculum that I could determine for myself because I know what I want. That's how I ended up at the SMFA.” The freedom of the SMFA at Tufts curriculum allows students to explore their artistic ideas through many art forms, which makes it stand out among many other art programs that ask students to limit their work to one artistic medium.
Currently, Liz is embracing the SMFA at Tufts’ interdisciplinary philosophy by working on everything from sketching to sculpture and even performance art, to inform her work and help her become a flexible artist. However, she hopes to eventually work in film animation. "My goal is to make animations for films and children's novels about African subject matter and stories." With half of her coursework behind her, Liz has grown to love how all these different disciplines connect. "I tell stories using characters. Performance lends itself really well to the process of illustrating and animating because I get to embody this character in all its different forms." She believes that telling these stories and working with characters through performance art will help her with animation and visual storytelling. "Everything ends in performance but it involves sculpture, sound, and illustration," she explained. Liz has continued to fuel her interest in storytelling by learning more about body control and movement through taking dance classes on the Medford campus.
Performance art is the ultimate product of a wellrounded foundation for Liz. "It's been a really amazing journey; I've done a series of performances and they are pretty much different every single time." One piece, titled It. And she. featured a sculpture crafted of wire, wood, and teacups. In a recent Tufts Now article, Liz explains that the first half of the piece is a dance, and in the second she wears the piece and serves herself tea and biscuits. Her most recent piece, though, spoke to a recent incident in her hometown of Johannesburg where a young girl was put in detention because her natural hair did not conform with the dress code. The point of this piece, according to Liz, was to promote a discussion about where and when culture intersects with assimilation. "It's hard to get the themes that you care about or worry about, especially heavy subject matter, to impact people in a beautiful and powerful way," she said. The art of capturing beauty within negative issues is one with which many art students must grapple. However, Liz is well on her way to creating critical thought and conversation on difficult subjects through her beautiful art pieces in all forms.