Science and the making of an artist


July 05, 2002|By Betsy Diehl | Betsy Diehl,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHEN LORETTA Kuo was a high school student, she dreamed of becoming an artist. But the stereotype of a starving artist loomed in her parents' minds, so they encouraged their daughter to pursue a more realistic occupation in the sciences.

Kuo left her native California to study at the Johns Hopkins University, where she double-majored in psychology and art history.

But after a taste of a career in social work, Kuo, 25, decided that life was too short not to follow her dream. She enrolled in some courses at Howard Community College to confirm her inkling that she was meant to be an artist.

"I've always had an interest in studio art," said Kuo, of Jessup. "I'd been turning it over in my mind a lot."

Kuo says that she was always a strong student academically, especially in science. However, at Hopkins she had a bit of an awakening. "I discovered, when I went to Hopkins, that I wasn't that sciency," she said. "I could learn it, but it wasn't my forte."

You might think that science and art at the opposite ends of the left brain-right brain spectrum. But Kuo sees many parallels between science and art. Like science, "you have to analyze art to find the meaning," she said. "There's quite a bit of psychoanalysis in modern art."

Also, artistic composition, like science, relies on orderliness.

"When you look at compositions, they are planned out," Kuo said. "There is a reason for putting things there. It's not just a happy accident."

Kuo is one of five local artists represented in the Howard Community College Invitational Art Exhibit, which continues at the college through July 28. The exhibition highlights work by talented alumni and students, said James Adkins, gallery director and director of visual arts for HCC.

Kuo cites her strong religious beliefs for giving her the courage to leave a promising career field to pursue her artistic side.

"The confidence, the fortitude to go for it, comes from God," she said. But she acknowledges that her teachers at HCC, namely Adkins and Peter Collier, have instilled in her the fundamentals that have allowed her to begin realizing her dream.

The still-life images featured in the exhibit - oil paintings and charcoal drawings - helped Kuo earn a partial scholarship to Maryland Institute College of Art, where she will study fine arts in the fall.

Does she worry about becoming a starving artist?

"You never know unless you try," Kuo said. "You don't want to live a life where you look back when you're old with regret. If you fail, you fail. You can always go back to a desk job."

Pediatric artists

Three third-graders from Hammond Elementary School were among 35 young artists to have work selected for Howard County General Hospital's new pediatric unit.

Megan Cassella, Katelyn Colvin and Christine Guevara worked together to create a collage with an underwater theme that will be permanently displayed at the hospital.

All of the artists whose works were selected were elementary and middle school pupils, according to hospital officials. The artists were honored at a reception at the hospital last week, where they received plaques acknowledging their contributions.

Old-fashioned girls

It might be hard to imagine a summer without visits to the movies, the pool, the beach and the mall. But what did little girls do in the summertime in generations past?

The Savage branch library is offering a program Tuesday evening designed to give children ages 6 and older a peek at some of the simple pleasures that their grandmothers or great-grandmothers might have enjoyed on a hot summer's day.

"American Girls: In the Good Old Summertime" will offer girls the chance to play old-fashioned games, make potpourri, using the library's homegrown lavender, and make lemonade - from lemons.

"The lemonade is always kind of a kick to make," said Rita Snyder, coordinator of the program, which is based on the popular American Girl book series. The event begins at 7 p.m. Dolls are welcome. Registration: 410-880-5978.

Parting words

Jayne Diggs says she knew what she wanted to do with her life since about the third grade.

"When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be a teacher," she said. "I was a little girl who liked to play school."

Diggs used to imagine becoming a school administrator, but she wavered from that path in college.

"I studied to be a teacher, but switched majors and went into speech language. I did that almost 20 years," she said.

Diggs finally went back to school to earn a master's degree in education administration. For nearly three years now, she has been living her dream - as assistant principal at Fulton Elementary School.

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