The arts section is delighted to introduce a new column, “Artist of the Week,” which will cover a new student every week for their work in visual art, music, theater, dance, writing, or any range of creative endeavors. Contact us if you would like to be featured or to nominate a friend.
Whether you know her as a singer in the a cappella group Offbeat, an actor in campus productions, or a photographer with a growing portfolio, you’re sure to know her as an artist through and through. Styling neon sunglasses, layered gold rings, and a bright smile, Grace Dumdaw ’21 sat down to discuss her journey as a performer and visual artist here on campus.
Dumdaw’s journey as a performer began the moment she could get on stage. Whether she was acting in musicals or playing in the orchestra, Dumdaw became accustomed to performing early in her life.
“I think my mom was always a stage mom,” Dumdaw explained. “So I was on stages as a really young child, play[ing] piano, violin, and guitar growing up.”
Though her parents pushed her to pursue music, Dumdaw always found herself more drawn to film, theater, and comedy. Dumdaw has maintained that interest, and is currently a major in the Theater Department hoping to pursue a career in entertainment.
“I’ve always loved acting, and would always do it, but my parents never really supported that,” Dumdaw recalled. “It was always something I’d talked about but they never took seriously until they were like ‘oh she’s not dropping this.’”
When it comes to creative inspiration, Dumdaw draws from others within the acting community. Observing both professionals and her own peers, Dumdaw finds that learning from others inspires her most.
“I’m really into film, and I analyze films all the time. I watch as many as I can; I watch the acting, and I try to verse myself with as many actors as I can. [I like] to see how they’re executing their training and then going and researching their processes and how they get into character. I do it in real life too, talking to people who are also in the theatre major and just performing on campus. Getting to know what their processes are is really interesting because we all do it so differently.”
Though Dumdaw’s main focus is theater, she also expresses herself musically and visually. Dumdaw enjoys having other outlets to express her creativity, which include singing with Offbeat and taking photographs in her free time.
“I’m in an a cappella group and that’s kind of like my one musical outlet that I would say I consistently enjoy,” Dumdaw said. “I [also] got into photography in high school because my parents had this tiny point and shoot camera that they weren’t using. I just took it and played around with it and realized I had an eye for it.”
Dumdaw particularly enjoys portraiture and street photography, though she wouldn’t limit herself to any one kind of photography.
“I definitely lean more towards portraiture, just because I think I enjoy making people look good and feel good. Reminding people that there is beauty to them when they forget. But I [also] enjoy street photography. It’s all over the place – if I see something that I like, I’ll take a picture of it.”
Dumdaw struggled to pinpoint exactly where her inspiration comes from, explaining that her ideas often come to her spontaneously.
“I can’t ever pin down what inspires me because it comes out of nowhere. I’ll just be thinking of something, like a shoot that I want to do, and I keep brainstorming until suddenly I know what I want it to look like, I know exactly how I can get those materials, and then I attach myself to it and keeps coming into my head. If I don’t do it I’ll drive myself crazy!”
Despite her interests in music and photography, Dumdaw emphasized that her true passion is theater.
“I think people identify me a lot with photography even though I don’t really care for it as much [as theatre],” she explained. “Mostly theatre [makes up my identity], and I’m not actively trying to find more musical opportunities.”
Dumdaw can’t imagine her life without theater, expressing that without theater she would struggle emotionally.
“Because I love theater, I love comedy, if I don’t do it I will get into this depression. Last year was the worst year of my life because I wasn’t doing any theater,” Dumdaw added. “I was overcommitted to musical things, and I think that my identity to a lot of people on campus became music. I started feeling like people didn’t really understand what I was interested in, and that was tough.”
As far as her goals for the future, Dumdaw continues to strive for a career in entertainment.
“The path to going into entertainment, which is what I’ve always wanted to do, is really clear now, and it’s really new and exciting because I’m one step closer to that goal.”
(Grace will be performing cabaret style musical theatre at NPPR Tiny Desk on November 8th. You can also see her on October 26th-28th in the Drama Board play Bedroom Scene)
Photographs by and courtesy of Grace Dumdaw