Amara Ogukwe ’22 keeps herself busy. She likes it that way. Besides her coursework, she worked last school year at a food bank and an after-school program.
As much as she likes the fast pace, though, Ogukwe sometimes needs to decelerate her life. She seeks stillness. That’s when she turns to her love of ceramics. Ogukwe will head over to Babson’s ceramics studio and work with clay for a few hours.
“I think everyone should slow down every now and again,” Ogukwe says. “Ceramics makes me take my time and be deliberate. It’s very careful and slow and methodical. There is something special about making something with your hands.”
Ogukwe is one of the Sorenson Arts Scholars, a Babson scholarship program for student artists.
Being an artist can be challenging in college, given the often bustling, overflowing lives that students lead. But the six current Sorenson Arts Scholars meet regularly throughout the school year to give each other feedback and support as they work toward an annual spring showcase of their art projects.
“The program certainly encourages students who want to keep art in their lives,” says Leslie Chiu, general manager of the Sorenson Center for the Arts.
Through the years, scholars have included photographers and dancers, graphic designers and theater performers, musicians and poets. Practicing their art has benefited these students in many ways, says Chiu.
Student artists develop adaptability and learn how to powerfully express their passions and ideas. “In the arts, there is always storytelling,” Chiu says. For students who work as part of a team, say in theater or dance, they can grow comfortable collaborating and navigating the dynamics of a group.
Students also grow in self-confidence, as they work privately on a project that is very personal to them and then reveal it to others. “Art is about taking risks, making yourself vulnerable,” says Chiu. “That can be hard at first for young people.”
For Ogukwe, practicing her art allows for precious alone time with her thoughts. Sitting at the pottery wheel, she takes stock of her life. “I think about how I’m feeling,” she says. “It’s a time to reflect.”
The Sorenson Arts Scholarship program is made possible by the generosity of Richard Sorenson MBA’68, P’97 ’00, and Sandy Sorenson P’97 ’00, donors who have long supported the arts at Babson.
Babson may be a business school, but the worlds of art and business aren’t as far apart as they seem, says Chiu. Creative thinking and problem solving are essential skills not only for artists, but also for businesspeople and entrepreneurs as well.
Furthermore, entrepreneurs and artists have much in common. Both are driven individuals trying to expose their creation, whether it’s a work of art or a new business, to as many people as possible. “I think entrepreneurs and artists grapple with some of the same questions,” Chiu says.
Ogukwe agrees. “You can’t disconnect art from the business world,” she says. “You need to be creative in business. If you can do that, you have such an advantage. You have to be able to do more than just look at numbers. All the big name CEOs, they are all creative and that’s how they got there.”
For students who go through the scholars program, Chiu hopes they find a way to make art an important part of their lives long after they’ve left Babson. Perhaps they can work as a marketer or accountant for an arts organization, she says, or find comfort in creating art after a long day at the office.
Ogukwe, for one, plans to always have a place for art in her life. “I strongly believe everyone needs their own hobbies and activities where they can indulge themselves,” she says. In the near future, she is looking to experiment, taking a break from pottery and instead creating artwork with resin and geodes. “I think it’s so beautiful the way the colors blend together,” she says. “Art is about making something beautiful.”
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