Rasa Barzdukas ’17 sits on the quad, occasionally looking up from her sketchpad. Pages are spilling out of her notebook, each covered in sketches waiting to be perfected in the studio.
Barzdukas has been drawing since before she can remember. Though she did not enroll in any art classes until her sophomore year, her earliest memories often feature the art studio in her childhood home where she said she spent every free moment creating artwork.
After signing up for every studio art class offered at the Upper School, Barzdukas began honing her artistic skills in 10th grade through hours of practice and technique. In addition to studio classes, she also is taking AP Art History and said it has given her a thorough background to the art she would create in the studio.
Barzdukas credits enrolling in these classes with fostering her enthusiasm for making art.
“If I wasn’t doing homework or with friends, I was drawing,” Barzdukas said. “I’ve always enjoyed [creating artwork] but until I began taking art classes, I didn’t have the dedication or passion that I have now.”
Though she said she does not have a specific style, Barzdukas described her art genre as “unconventional modern.”
She draws inspiration from her surroundings as well as other artists, including her favorite artist, Mark Rothko.
The majority of her works are drawings and paintings, though she also works in ceramics and street art.
“Whether I draw or paint really just depends on what I’m trying to express,” Barzdukas said. “Personally, with drawing I feel like I have a lot more control, especially because I usually draw with pen which feels less freeing. With painting, you can always just paint new layers to express new ideas.”
She has taken up street art, despite the current controversy over whether graffiti is considered artwork. Barzdukas said she actively avoids marking any private property to prevent breaking the law while creating art.
Barzdukas said she prefers to observe and create “street art that conveys a message,” unlike the common graffiti tags found throughout Los Angeles.
She is interested in the social history behind street art and wants to pursue learning more about its effects on society, she said.
“Street art as a whole is an asset to society,” Barzdukas said. “Art is regarded as a high class, wealthy profession that requires classes and art history, which adds to the stigma about it being a selective hobby. Street art makes art accessible to everyone and allows for artistic freedom, exposing more kids to art.”
Street art aside, Barzdukas typically allows others to view her art freely.
She began an Instagram account to publish her pieces, and says it has helped her improve her artwork immensely knowing that others will see it.
“I’m interested in seeing how I can say what I want to say through art, and have as many people as possible see it,” Barzdukas said. “I’m interested in [publishing art] because if I begin to paint something with the intent of evoking an emotion from someone, I want to see if it works or not.”
Barzdukas expressed excitement at the latest art savvy trends both online and in real life.
She said the increased awareness for the beauty of museums and street art will help support aspiring artists such as herself as well as introduce more people to artwork.
“Art can and should be attempted by everyone,” Barzdukas said. “I think it is a great way to express yourself and if it works for you, you should definitely pursue it.”
Barzdukas is enrolled in the AP Studio Art: Drawing class this year.
The yearlong curriculum prepares students for their May portfolio, consisting of 12 pieces of one genre.
“AP Studio Art has been a really enjoyable class because of the freedom we receive,” Barzdukas said. “We can pretty much spend class drawing whatever we want and prepping our portfolio for the final.”
Barzdukas is creating twelve pieces of concentration under a common theme of “Monsters of Life.”
She has completed three pieces so far and plans to finish the remaining nine before the May 5 deadline.
She said spends at least two hours a day working on her concentration as well as other various projects.
She also works on the “breadth” work required for the AP exam, which is a collection of pieces demonstrating technique and artistic ability.
“I can pretty much work anywhere, as long as I’m in the right mindset,” Barzdukas said. “If I am feeling inspired, I can pull out a notebook no matter where I am and just start drawing.”
Barzdukas has applied to several art colleges to pursue her dream of making art a future profession.
“Ideally, working in the studio every day and selling my artwork would be my dream job,” Barzdukas said.
Though she has been made offers, Barzdukas has not sold any of her artwork yet but has drawn for friends as personal favors, including cover art for new soundtracks.
“I really enjoy drawing for other people, though you definitely receive negative feedback sometimes,” Barzdukas said. “You just have to learn to let it roll off you and work through it.”
Despite a few setbacks, Barzdukas has continued to push forward and improve her artwork each year, she said.
“I think the progression of my life has been recorded through my artwork and I hope to continue expressing myself through art for the rest of my life,” Barzdukas said.