This summer, sophomore Alexandra Cribbin made a name for herself in the art scene. Besides having a piece featured in a gallery opening at Providence’s own Dunk Center, she also studied under Francesco Santoro, a professional Italian sculptor and painter. Alex is working towards a career as an art therapist, where she will help people cope with psychological problems using art as an outlet.
Name: Alexandra Cribbin
Year: Class of 2014
Hometown: Cumberland, RI
Major: Psychology with a minor in Studio Art.
So, you had a unique experience this summer when you worked with Francesco Santoro. What was that like? Well, he didn’t speak English at all so his assistants were translating, but it was really cool. I knew nothing about sculpture, and he taught us how renaissance artists would sculpt. He was so passionate about art. He isn’t just a sculptor, though; he does painting, helps restore frescos in Venezuela, and has worked with/taught a lot of people over the years. He grew up in Milan and learned from artistic masters in Italy. He taught us everything from gold leafing to art history. I got a lot out of it – you have to really know the basics behind your craft.
You recently had an internship at an art studio/gallery. Can you tell me a little bit more about it? Before the summer, I wanted to get an internship that related to art therapy somehow. I found out about a place in a newspaper called Peace Love Studios, based in Pawtucket. I talked to the people there and went for Saturday Art Days where I would help people create stuff and organized materials. They do events all over Rhode Island—it’s not necessarily an art therapy setup because it’s more about the community instead of a patient-therapist interaction.
What made you want to get involved in art therapy? I’ve always liked psychology and art. I wanted to be an art teacher at first, but found that education as a career wasn’t for me, so my goals evolved over the years. Eventually, I discovered art therapy, and since it combines psychology and art, it was a perfect fit.
You were featured in a showcase at the Dunk Center. How did that come about? Peace Love Studios has a new gallery that opened up and they wanted their volunteers to be in their grand opening. They asked me to do a piece for the show, and I submitted two. The first was a picture of a leaf and a peacock feather, and the second was a digital print I created. They thought it over for a while, and ended up picking the print to put in the show.
What was it like to have your work be featured in a public showcase? I was one of the youngest ones at the opening, so I felt like the little girl in the corner of the room looking at everyone else’s artwork. I was so excited to see my print hanging up next to other works. I’ve never been featured in a public gallery opening or a show, so having my name on a plaque and getting that recognition was really cool.
Have you ever considered selling any of your artwork? I have, but it would probably be done further down the road. Many of the things I’m doing now are meant to build my portfolio for graduate school, and some things I create are original works that I just want to hold onto for as long as I can. They’re like my babies.
When did you first realize art is something you really wanted to pursue? When I was in 4th grade, I had a teacher, Mrs. Masterson, who was really inspiring. She did the strangest things, but they were always awesome—for example, we did plaster masks, and she once set up a wall we could carve things into and pretend they were hieroglyphics and cave art. Over the years (I had her until I was in 8th grade), we did everything from 3D sculptures to learning how to sew—even the guys, which was funny to watch.
In my last year, Mrs. Masterson set up a project for the 8th graders. She put names of famous artists in a hat from different time periods, and each student got to pick one out. We had to look at their paintings and try to recreate them—painting what you see is a beginner’s techinque. I got Gauguin and chose an artwork out of a book about him titled Still Life with Oranges.
Immediately after, I fell in love with painting. I didn’t even know I had painting talent. When I was little, I would paint figurines and wood blocks, but nothing to that scale. So, Mrs. Masterson introduced me to it and I was forever hooked.
What kind of courses are you taking in order to pursue this career goal? I’m in Research Design and Statistical Analysis for Psych, which is also a lab course and a lot of work, and I’m doing Art History. I’m also taking Civ and Gen Bio so that I can finish up some cores.
What courses are you looking forward to taking? Paintography, definitely. I’ve never been so excited about a class in my life. It combines photography and painting together.
If you could meet any artist, who would you want to meet? That’s really, really hard because there are so many different artists. I think for Renaissance, I would have to say Michelangelo or Da Vinci. For postmodernism I would have to say Andy Warhol or Shepard Ferry. I went to a Shepard Ferry show up in Boston, and it was amazing. Also Chihuly. He blows glass, and I really want to know how to do that ever since I saw his work.
When you’re not being an up-and-coming artist, what do you like to do on the weekends? I like to have some dance parties in my room with my roommates. I also like going to the mall.
Do you have any favorite stores? Forever 21 definitely, and I pop into Crate and Barrel once in a while. Yes, the container store. Also H&M, and Anthropologie.
So since you’re a budding artist, what kind of dorm decorations do you have? I have a bird mask that I created when I was in 4th grade, there are a few collage scenes, the peacock feather and leaf drawing that I submitted to the gallery is also on the wall, and a few paintings. I also decorated records and did a zebra print.
Where do you want to live when you grow up? I think I want to move around. I would love to be in New York City and then maybe move out west for a few months to Seattle. From there, I want to travel to New Zealand and live with the farmers (preferably in Alexandra, New Zealand). Then I would love to backpack across Europe and go to unusual places. Like Poland, Russia, Yugoslavia—ones that aren’t exactly tourist spots. I want to stay in the towns instead of major cities because I feel like that’s how you really experience the culture. Then I want to make it to Cork, Ireland. And then come back to the little state of Rhode Island.
Describe yourself in 3 adjectives: giggly, clean, and quirky
Any parting words? “All great changes are preceded by chaos.”
Alex's Featured Digital Print