Kimberley M. Zak, a student at Boston University, has received an Honorable Mention Commendation from the received an Honorable Mention Commendation from the Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Fine Art Scholarship program for her watercolor, Don’t Itch.
Zak, whose hometown is Ranchos Palos Verde, California, is pursuing a dual degree in painting and psychology.
Her artist statement: As a student pursuing a dual degree in painting and psychology, I am deeply interested in the intersection between these two worlds—worlds that seem quite separate from one another at first glance but are, in reality and by nature, intricately connected. I believe that painting—particularly portraiture and figure painting—provides an incredible and unique avenue by which to explore the relationship between art and psychology; painting allows us to understand each other as people and, ultimately, uncover the human condition.
One of my primary goals as an artist is to create work that reflects the human experience and encourages self-reflection. Whether through examinations of physical existence, abstractions of mentality, or explorations of the intrapersonal journey, I strive to engage both the viewer and the artist—myself—in a connective and often metacognitive conversation about our experiences as people.The intrapersonal aspects I experience when creating a painting make the private process just as important to me—if not more so—as the final product.
In this sense, I am also deeply interested in creating work that reflects the process in such a way that the viewer can interact with and understand a painting as more than just the final product with which they are more typically acquainted. In addition, I constantly find myself grappling with the question of whether or not art must be conceptually accessible for people other than the artist; by searching for ways to expose the process to the viewer, I am continuing the conversation with the viewer and, in a way, with myself about accessibility and the psychological themes that intrigue me.For me, psychology is also profoundly intertwined with art history, and my studies in psychology and painting have augmented my fascination with history.
Studying art history and applying that education to our work as artists enables us to create relevant, meaningful, and impactful art. My work frequently draws inspiration from moments and concepts which I have discovered through my explorations of art history. This influence, though sometimes explicit, is often rather subtle and undetectable; its nature is sometimes deliberate and sometimes subconscious. It is through instances such as these that I find that the interconnection between art and psychology approaches interdependence.
In my academic career and beyond, I am aiming to enrich my experiences and my relationship with the world around me through art, psychology, and art history. I have been incredibly fortunate to cultivate my perspectives and ambitions in Venice, Italy, where I studied painting and art history for four months during my sophomore year. This extraordinary opportunity not only compelled me to challenge myself as an artist and as an individual, but also afforded me the tremendous privilege of broadening my understanding of art and art history—and, furthermore, the undeniable relationship that connects me as a growing artist in the twenty-first century to artists throughout history.
This global experience has informed my perception of art as it exists among and interacts with society, giving me a more multifaceted mindset with which to approach my studies as I prepare for life beyond university.Because I am earning two degrees in just four years, my course load is always full beyond capacity, and as a result I must take several classes each summer in order to complete both degree programs on time. The costs of these courses, naturally, are an added expense to college tuition such that my options as to where I can take these summer classes are somewhat limited based on what my family can currently afford. This scholarship would aid me and my family by supplementing some of the costs of my regular tuition, thus expanding the possibility for me to take the courses I need to next summer to graduate within four years.
As I enter the final half of my academic career and approach the next chapter of my life, I find myself daunted by the prospect of choosing between a career in art history and that in psychology. However, as I have experienced more of the world and grown as a result of my studies and explorations, I have come to the realization that these options are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I believe that these worlds are not merely related: they are inseparable. Whether as a future artist, psychologist, or art historian, I will continue to search for ways in which to build upon and vitalize the relationships I am exploring between these fields.