Meet the Inspirational TAs of Pre-College Art

Posted on July 1, 2024

This summer, high school students from across the globe are getting a firsthand look at life at CMU, guided by an exceptional team of School of Art teaching assistants (TAs). As these four juniors and seniors — Luca Budofsky, Dariyah Scott, Mo Nash, and Bethany Hwang share their personal stories and unique insights with prospective students, they’re also exploring how this summer might shape their own futures as artists and educators.

On High School

Mo: I was very lucky to have taken many different art classes throughout high school. The school offered everything from photography to jewelry making, pottery to painting, digital media studies, and more, and my art program at school was continuously growing. I entered high school knowing that I wanted to pursue art without knowing how to do so, and right off the bat, my teachers gave me so much support and direction.

Luca: For most of high school, art was a thing I was doing all the time, both in my free time and structuring my class schedules around.

Bethany: I was a chronic career-switcher. I went from marine biologist to lawyer to artist, but ultimately nothing made me feel more fulfilled than art. There’s this feeling that’s hard to describe; I just feel so incredibly alive when I’m making art.

  • Bethany Hwang

On Applying to CMU

Bethany: I was looking for an experimental art program with a focus on interdisciplinary studies, and to me, that was the School of Art. Carnegie Mellon in general encourages multidisciplinary studies, so I could keep learning philosophy and art at the same time without having to give up one or the other.

Dariyah: I wasn’t considering applying for CMU until one of my favorite art teachers mentioned that I should apply. It was very spur of the moment, but couldn’t have come at a better time given that I’ve always been a very conceptual artist from the beginning.

Luca: In the depth of trying to make a decision of where I would be in the next few years, which at the time felt overwhelming, certain things stuck with me. Reading the unusual names of the class offerings and talking to students and faculty made the decision to come here easier. I remember reading the description of classes such as “Objects of Play” and “Sculpture after the Internet” that were offered in the years before I was here, and just the idea of these classes felt novel and thought-provoking in ways that I hadn’t really encountered as a high school student.

  • Mo Nash

On Community at the School of Art

Mo: Our relatively small class sizes allow us to connect closely with our professors and each other, forming really special friendships and mentorships around our shared love of creating art. Our co-creation of creative space is so joyful and inspiring. I find most of my continued artistic inspiration from people I’m close to. My happiest experiences have been shared with fellow art students, who have become people I will always love very dearly.

Dariyah: The connections I’ve made are some of the most valuable I’ve ever had in terms of developing every aspect of myself. I know where I want to go and how to get there. My interdisciplinary nature is really allowed to thrive here, and I always find ways to incorporate my interests in my work.

Luca: Watching my classmates shift in different directions and develop ideas over many classes and semesters is really cool. I like the sense that people draw ideas from the people around them and when themes and different material and conceptual concerns emerge across different works within a group. I’ve appreciated the many very engaged and sometimes contentious and challenging discussions in both studio and critical studies classes.

  • Dariyah Scott

On Pre-College Art

Dariyah: I want to teach in the future, and I was excited at the prospect of being able to help teach people things that I love to talk about.  I want to show that there are so many different ways of approaching art. There is always an access point and sometimes you just need someone to show you that. I hope I can be that for at least one person that I meet in these six weeks.

Luca: I am most excited about sharing the research and critique process with the students, specifically the ways in which working among other people in the same space opens up the conversations we have about each other’s work.

Mo: Last summer, I was a Pre-College RA, and I had a few residents who were art students. They’d often ask for help before critiques, and I found through our conversations that their unique understanding of art — as high school students with diverse identities and experiences — actually taught me much more about their lives and how art is uniquely related to them than any sort of formal feedback I could give them.

Bethany: It’s so freeing to know that not everything has to be a masterpiece and that productive failure and taking risks are the best things to ever happen to your practice. That’s something I hope every student gains out of this Pre-College experience.

  • Luca Budofsky

Animation & Printmaking TA
Luca Budofsky is a rising junior in the School of Art, concentrating in sculpture with minors in soft technologies and social and political history. They are interested in craft, particularly textile media, as a translation of personal and bodily experience and history. Their work plays with the construction of both internal affectionate spaces and looming, wide-open expanses. Working in painting, drawing, quilting, yarn arts, and ceramics, they explore environments such as obscured grassy fields, clouds, murky water, and blankets, which are collaged with kitsch characters, ephemeral bodies, grids, and abstractions. Gentle colors and blocky shapes reference craftinesses and topography, and explore meandering experiences of queerness.

Sculpture & Photography TA
Bethany Hwang is a rising junior in the School of Art, focusing on sculpture and painting, alongside a minor in immersive technologies. As an artist, she explores to solve the puzzle of layered scenes that cannot be captured in one solid picture. She is specifically interested in facing the moments that are burned in our brains and the moments that we cannot possess but still manage to manifest within us, and she strives to hold onto them for as long as they allow her to. Through this process, she investigates the inherent beauty in passing time, captures it in a painting, or recreates it in an object.

Concept Studio TA
Mo Nash is a rising junior pursuing a BFA in Art and minors in Creative Writing & Gender Studies. Their work intimately inspects their queer body and its relationships to others, physical embodiments of psychological experiences, self-imposed and self-inflicted mythological narratives, and personal and social identity broadly. They are interested in touch — between, with, and for others — and finding comfort within objects, drawn to tactility in art meant to be touched, held, and loved. Their work is squishy, blobby, soft, and approachable, and they’re primarily interested in working with 3D forms using malleable materials like ceramics, fabric, paper clay, polymer clay, silicone, and foam.

Drawing & Painting TA
Dariyah Scott is a rising senior majoring in Visual and Sonic arts. She is an interdisciplinary artist based in using archival research to make art as protest for black people. This involves inspecting intra- and inter-communal relations and how media and henceforth historical documentation constricts diverse imagery for her community. Her mediums include traditional mediums such as painting and sculpture, as well as new media art, music production, performance and sound installation work. She has collaborated with many fellow artists and recently had a residency at Boom Concepts.