To celebrate the Joan Mitchell Foundation's 25th anniversary, we invited 25 artists to reflect on the impact of receiving support from the Foundation over the years, and to share how they activated the resources provided by the Foundation. We collected their stories, along with studio portraits of the artists by photographer Reginald Eldridge, Jr., into an exhibition and book entitled Widening Circles: Portraits from the Joan Mitchell Foundation Artist Community at 25 Years. Here is the 16th story in our series, from Lobsang Tsewang:
I moved to this country six years ago, in 2012. At that time, I entered 10th grade at Newtown High School in Queens. English is not my first language, and I barely spoke it then. I had a hard time getting along with other students due to the language barrier. My art teacher recommended that I take after-school art classes because he recognized my passion for art and my desire to pursue a degree from an art college. That is how I found out about the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Saturday Studios program.
In that program, I noticed myself being very engaged with other students and teachers compared to my regular class at high school. Because of that wonderful experience, I decided to be part of other programs like jumpstART and Summer Portfolio Intensive, and I did a summer internship at Joan Mitchell Foundation. Throughout the process of learning and making art at Joan Mitchell Foundation, we also had other social activities like critiquing each other’s artwork, collaborating on murals, and field trips to art galleries and museums. Being in those programs, where I was surrounded by students who were as passionate as I am about making art, really helped me develop and fit into the community even though I’m a first-generation immigrant.
Looking back to myself when I started, I see that one of my biggest accomplishments through the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s art programs is that they helped me drastically improve my English language skills.
After I graduated from high school, I continued to pursue a career in the art field in college. With the help of a scholarship that I received from Metropolitan Museum of Art during my senior year in high school and the Sue Daykin Award from the FIT Fine Art Department, I was able to finish my BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology on time. Since then, I have been actively involved in exhibiting my artworks at various venues and preparing my portfolio to apply for grad school next year.
Lobsang Tsewang is an artist who was born in Nepal and now lives in Queens, NY. His paintings are influenced by Tibetan traditional art, particularly Thangka paintings.
Read more about Widening Circles and download the full book here.
All photos © 2018 Reginald Eldridge, Jr.