Archeology student digs at artistic roots

Ironically, Carolyn Corbin ’15 doesn’t identify herself as an artist. For Corbin, art is a craft: an expression of her desire to communicate ideas and feelings without words.

As a studio arts and archaeology double major, she says that art inspires her in archaeology, and not the other way around. She feels that her majors complement each other, so she doesn’t get burned out by the strict academia of archaeology or the constant search of inspiration for art.

Art is a very important outlet for Corbin. To her it’s all about expression, and oftentimes street art, like the works of Banksy and Shepard Fairey, can be even more politically and emotionally charged than some works of fine art.

“One of my biggest pet peeves is the forced dichotomy between fine arts and illustration,” she said on the distinction academics draw when defining and categorizing art. “Art should not be something solely relegated to the academic world.”

Corbin has been creating art ever since she first “threw dirt on a page.” She believes children are predisposed towards doing art and finding ways to express themselves with the elements in their environments. Her own interests in art truly solidified during her sophomore year of high school, when she met a teacher that introduced her to illustration.

Like most Swatties, frustration inspires Corbin, so she’s more likely to paint an active scene than a still life. She likes to focus on intensity in her scenes. Oceans are one of her recurring themes because she loves the dynamic aspect of water.  Corbin is on the rugby team, so it’s easy to see that her preference for action extends beyond art. Her favorite medium so far is pastel, and she loves illustration because of its ability to communicate actions without using words.

Music is integral to Corbin’s process of creation and heavily influences her works. One of Corbin’s future goals is to make a series of paintings that accompany a musical arrangement.

Studying studio art at a small liberal arts school like Swarthmore has advantages and disadvantages. Corbin finds that the professors, though few, are accessible, caring, and great artists themselves, but the biggest drawback by far is the limited studio space. Whereas at an art school, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, where her sister studies, a student might have a whole room to themselves for their projects, here practice space is much harder to find, with some art classes forced to share rooms.

While Corbin thinks that resources and display areas such as the Kitao Gallery are great for juniors and seniors at Swarthmore that want to display their work, when it comes to displaying her own work, Corbin is still on the fence. She feels that art is personal, and doesn’t know if she’s at the point where she feels comfortable sharing it with a large audience.

Corbin is going to study abroad next semester in Ireland for archaeology, but hopes that the landscapes will also inspire her artistic work.