Emma Kelsey – Staff Writer
This week’s Gustie of the Week is a member of Viking Society, and a devoted Studio Art and Art History major here on campus. Senior Gigi DeGrood pours herself into her passions, and for her, that comes in the form of art– something she is reputable for here on the hill.
DeGrood is well known by frieds and faculty here for her artistic talent and commitment to her art education, which takes up most of her time here on campus. “Whenever I’m not in class, I’m in my studio creating,” DeGrood said, adding that her major is like a full-time job. The fastest painting she has ever completed took about eight hours; the longest took over one hundred. This hefty time commitment proves even further the depth of DeGrood’s devotion to art and her education. “The art major is important to me because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.” DeGrood said. She adds that she loves creating and expressing herself through art.
Reed Kottke (‘22) shares that he met DeGrood move-in weekend of their first year, and the two have been friends ever since. “Gigi is my most artistic friend… she sports her style in many ways — from her colorful and bold studio work down to her always impressive clothing style. Gigi or Gig as I often call her has great taste in music, food, and tv shows,” Kottke said. He extends his thanks to Gustavus for crossing his and DeGrood’s paths, and has every confidence that she will make her mark (be it a paintbrush or something else) wherever she ends up in life.
DeGrood’s favorite part of Gustavus, aside from the “small community”, is the art department. According to her, there is never a dull moment in the studios and students and faculty in the department make it a fun place for DeGrood. She speaks highly of the art faculty specifically, who all help her develop as an artist and push her to become the best she can be. She says that despite all the ailments of the art building itself: the lead in the water, leaky ceilings, dirty windows, undependable heating and cooling systems, the lack of handicap accessible doors and bathrooms, and the company of mice and roaches — the faculty makes up for it. The people in the art department make it a place worth being.
Not only do others make the art department an enjoyable space, but DeGrood herself adds to its positive environment. Betsy Byers, DeGrood’s advisor, gushes about her advisee: “Gigi has flourished as an artist in the last three years. Her paintings now command your presence through their snazzy color… dark humor and surprising patterns and juxtapositions.” She says that DeGrood makes the days in the art building more fun through not only her unique presence but also her willingness to take risks, and, of course, her notoriously bold and creative outfits. Byers affirms that DeGrood is an outstanding student who has pushed herself to grow and achieve a “unique aesthetic.” Byers says that there are days she arrives at the art building at 6:30 am and sees DeGrood at her studio, with her head down, asleep. “She is destined for art stardom!…because she put in the hard work.” Byers said.
While DeGrood has found her niche here on the hill and specifically in the art department and as graduation looms, she expresses a readiness to begin a new chapter. “This year has been exhausting… I haven’t had time to slack off.” DeGrood said, explaining that for her, “senior slide” is a myth – she hasn’t had the option. She expresses feelings of burnout, especially with professors coming back “full-force” with deadlines and assignments after two years of more relaxed expectations with the pandemic. As things get back to normal, things have become a little more academically challenging for deGrood. For this she is “ready for some time to breathe.” But even with that said, she knows that she will “miss this place so much.”
DeGrood stands as inspiration to fellow students to pursue their passions. Through her love of art and commitment to her own growth, DeGrood has become a seasoned artist ready to take on the next phase of life.