Isa Pengskul in her work Becoming stick (2022).
LASALLE MA Fine Arts alumna Isa Pengskul would describe herself as a dabbler always on the lookout for something new to learn and try. Since graduating from university, she had her hand in domains as wide-ranging as UX design, graphic design, marketing and product management.
But despite working in a variety of creative roles, what has always remained her true north was her love for fine arts. That’s why after a brief couple of years working full-time as a designer and product manager for an educational technology company, Isa found herself restless once again, seeking opportunities to focus on her artistic practice. When her alma mater, Vassar College, awarded her the Maguire Fellowship to pursue further studies, she seized the opportunity to take the plunge and pursue an MA Fine Arts at LASALLE.
Isa speaks on what she looked for as an artist looking to deepen her practice and how the MA Fine Arts lecturers and classmates have made her journey one she will cherish forever.
What were you hoping to get out of your MA in Fine Arts studies?
When I started working full-time, I found it hard to focus on my practice and kept doing random small projects that seemed disjointed from one another. I needed a sense of direction and consistency in my practice.
During my MA studies at LASALLE, I was given the space to experiment and observe more clearly what I was making. My lecturers challenged me to see the work for what it was and helped me recognize the trends in my work. This eventually allowed me to come to terms with the kind of artist I am. I can more confidently say ‘this is what I want’ or ‘this isn't what I want’, which was sometimes difficult for me to discern in the beginning.
What drew you to LASALLE?
What opportunities have arisen through the programme?
After the programme ended I have been involved in a few different projects: Tropical Lab, Winston Oh Travelogue Award, as well as Undescribed with DECK. The first two opportunities came about through my lecturers’ recommendations. They allowed me to expand my network and get to know more people in LASALLE and beyond.
Tropical Lab was super diverse and I met a lot of artists from abroad who showed me many possible ways to live as an artist in the world. Their practices were inspiring and we had a lot of fun together for two weeks.
Through the Winston Oh Travelogue Award I had the opportunity to continue to explore key concerns in my MA research (human relationships with nature) but through a different lens. We travelled to Sarawak, Malaysia and visited the rainforest.
Are there any people you have met through your programme who have left an impact on you?
There is no way to fully express the gratitude that I have for all of the people I have met through the programme. I am grateful that the MA has allowed me to cross paths with so many wonderful people.
I have learned so much from my lecturers as well as visiting artists. Their willingness to try and figure out what I was doing when I was clearly confused was invaluable to my eventual understanding of my work. Although this state of knowing-what-I'm-doing is a moving target, I believe I have gotten better at hitting it more often.
I am thankful to the constant support and guidance of lecturers Ian and Adeline, as well as the conversations I had with all the other lecturers. I am still referring to the notes I furiously wrote during tutorials. This is one thing I will sorely miss now that I've graduated.
I have made friends who I will cherish forever both in the programme and through the programme. It has been a beautiful journey to have grown alongside them. They truly made my experience the best that it could be.
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