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A Student Writes ...

I am still relatively new to teaching -- this is only the fourth full college semester that I have (co-)taught the Journal and Sketchbook class at Columbia College. So it is still also a new experience for me to be contacted by a student and have a nice exchange about ideas coming out of a class I taught.

In this case, a student called Jonathan Leithold-Patt attended the J&S workshop that I gave in the Film and Video department last week. His was one of the pieces of in-class writing that I recalled from at the end, as I read back phrases that stuck out to me from the pieces that students read aloud. Jonathan followed up a few days later via email, and it turns out that he paints as well:

"Contact," acrylic on canvas, 14" x 11"
I asked him to say something about his pictures, and he wrote:
I don't exactly make movies outside of what I'm doing for school, as my interest in films is more in watching them and analyzing them than actually creating them, but I do see a connection in the films I love and the types of paintings I make. For instance, my favorite filmmaker is Ingmar Bergman, who made a career out of films dealing with the kind of intense, intimate alienation I'm fond of painting in my own work. I even made a piece directly as an homage to the director, incorporating his trademark compositions and even the actors he commonly used. If anything, I use film as inspiration for my paintings, drawing upon the images that I find most indelible, the ones that stick in my head and beg to be put down on a canvas.
"Recede," 24" x 30", oil on canvas
 What relation does he see between his Film and Video studies and these paintings, which were completed when he was in high school?
As far as the connection between my painting and my other activities, I'd just say it's a love of the image, as well as a desire to express my feelings through those images. These pieces were actually a part of a bigger series I did in high school, which was a study of personal and social alienation. Loneliness, and the consequent impressions it creates on the psyche, is something I find very fascinating and even beautiful, in a melancholy way. I wished to convey a sense of detachment, but at the same time portray the unusual catharsis and introspection that can also be achieved when you're alone, when you can't seem to connect to anything around you and you're left to your own devices.
 So there we are. Thanks to Jonathan for showing us his work, and for making a valuable addition to this blog's continuing preoccupation with and investigation into creativity in all its forms.


  1. I must say, I am honored. I've been taking a look around your blog and there's some wonderful stuff here.


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