When Jenny Wu ’12 arrived at Hobart and William Smith Colleges from Nanjing, China, she was surprised by three things: the snow, the squirrels and her friends’ excitement of sharing her first time experiences like going to coffee-chain Dunkin’ Donuts.
Wu quickly adjusted to life at HWS, double majoring in studio art and architectural studies, while getting involved on campus. After graduation, Wu traveled the U.S. doing artist residencies. She enrolled in an MFA program at American University, where she will graduate this May.
Wu says that HWS prepared her for studying at the graduate level by teaching her how to think critically. “My painting instructor, Professor of Art and Architecture Nick Ruth, was always asking difficult questions; sometimes questions with no answers,” Wu explains. “I learned to be straightforward and honest. I say what I think and admit when I don’t know. The architecture classes taught me a way of thinking, a way of working through problems.”
Looking back, Wu is glad that she decided to explore the liberal arts at HWS. “It was after I graduated from HWS and met more people with diverse educational backgrounds that made me realize how much I appreciate the value of well-rounded liberal arts education,” Wu says. “I wondered what my life would be if I went to an art school. I realized that art is not just oil and canvas, art is a mirror; it reflects the culture and everything surround us. HWS taught me to look at and process the world through multiple angles.”
During her time at the Colleges, Wu showcased her work in New York City at Denise Bibro Fine Art, Inc. in a show “One to One: Celebrating 100 Years of the Chautauqua School of Art.” Her senior year, Wu opened her first solo show at the Colleges’ Houghton House as part of an independent study. Wu also completed an Honors project, which was featured locally during a downtown Geneva art show, titled “9: Nine, Honors Project Exhibition.”
On campus, Wu was a member of the International Student Association, the Chinese Culture Club, the photography lab mentor, a student photographer for the Office of Communications and the artist assistant for the Three Dimensional Design class. She had an internship in 2011 at Miles and May Furniture Works in Geneva, and studied abroad in Rome, Italy.
Though Wu focused on painting landscapes while at the Colleges, she has shifted her art to construct approachable and interactive installations, which she considers to be “playgrounds for grown-ups.” To learn more about Wu’s work, visit: http://www.jennywuart.com/