Southold High School senior Juliane Van Gorden doesn’t mind waking up at 4 a.m. and driving to Ronkonkoma to catch a 6 a.m. train into Manhattan on Saturdays after working in a restaurant the night before.
That’s because the 17-year-old Southold resident is dedicated to furthering her art skills at SUNY/Fashion Institute of Technology. She recently finished an observation drawing course there and is planning to take another course next month that will teach her how to draw live models.
“Working with live models is a big step for me,” she said in a recent interview. “In the art world, it’s highly respected.”
Juliane gave a presentation at the December school board meeting in Southold, during which she described her experience in the FIT program and expressed her gratitude to the district for providing a supportive atmosphere that allowed her to immerse herself in art.
During the meeting, attendees were impressed by the diversity of her work — from sketches to paintings.
“All I can say is ‘wow’ when I look at that lion,” school board member John Crean said, referring to one of Juliane’s favorite watercolor paintings.
Juliane, who’s also a student-athlete, said her overall style is represented in her lion painting: abstract with bright, eye-catching colors of realistic images.
“I like art because it’s a way to express yourself,” she said. “There’s no right or wrong way to create or view art.”
She remembers her first drawings were done alongside her father, James, a retired BOCES auto body shop teacher.
“If he was working on flames for a car, he’d have me also draw them on a piece of paper,” she said.
Growing up as a middle child with three siblings, Juliane said her mother, Peggy, a real estate broker, would have the kids work on art projects while she cooked dinner.
Juliane said while her brothers and sister eventually got bored and would find something else to do, her mom would frequently find her still drawing at the table.
It wasn’t until she started winning PTA art contests in the fifth and sixth grades that she realized she wanted to become a professional artist.
The person that inspires her the most, she said, is Southold High School art teacher Dan Gosnell. Juliane said she appreciates how he taught her a variety of art techniques and recognized her talent.
Mr. Gosnell said he’s proud of Juliane’s dedication and hopes all schools continue to support art programs in the midst of budget cuts and a more rigorous math and English curriculum.
“They don’t really talk about emotional intelligence in Common Core,” he said. “[Art] nurtures your well-being and helps you become a well-rounded person.”
As her final year in Southold winds down, Juliane said she’s applying to Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons The New School for Design, Pratt Institute and Savannah College of Art and Design to study fine art.
Most of all, Juliane said she’s looking forward to becoming a professional artist.
“If you love what you do, you don’t work a single day in your life,” she said.
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