Student Spotlight: Adenrele Adewusi ’15
When Adenrele Adewusi ’15 stepped onto campus her freshman fall, she felt that she only saw three academic options for students — “pre-med, pre-law and pre-Wall Street.” Adewusi went with the third option, and she planned to leave the College with a degree in mathematics.
As a kid, Adewusi had always “played around” with digital art, designing things like business cards for her mother when she was only 10 years old. Throughout middle school and high school, however, her academics remained firmly rooted in the sciences, and she had no reason to believe that would change in college.
Adewusi’s path altered course during her sophomore summer when she painted the walls of her room in the Tabard coeducational fraternity, sparking a “creative outburst.” Adewusi had not taken any art classes at the College up to that point, but began working to make up for lost ground in her junior winter.
“I changed my major to modify it with studio art and I started taking art classes,” Adewusi said. “I was really eager to get involved, so I would volunteer to help professors with their exhibitions, definitely go the extra mile in my classes and that’s how I got to be in the position that I am in now.”
Adewusi’s interest in the arts was clearly apparent to her peers.
“I think her art is inspired,” Justin Maffett ’16 said. “I think she truly enjoys what she does. I remember when as a math major she was working on a four-dimensional model, and it was quite clear that she had artistic ability.”
Last April, in her last term at the College, Adewusi was featured in the digital arts exhibition at the Hopkins Center.
“I had a digital photography piece, a series of photographs and I also walked my piece in the digital fashion show,” she said.
Sahara Tankersley ’17, one of Adewusi’s models for the exhibit, said that she enjoyed working with Adewusi, describing working with her as “really fun and relaxed.”
Adewusi spent this past summer serving as a studio art intern with the College. She said that the position was a way for her to get an idea of what life would be like as an art professor.
“We had a lot of mentors’ time,” Adewusi said. “We were just in there at night while the students were working. I learned a lot from them and their processes, what they were doing.”
In this position, Adewusi was able to learn and to help others learn at the same time.
“I did ‘Sculpture 1’ and ‘Photography 1.’ Sculpture I had experience in, but photography I had never taken at Dartmouth,” Adewusi said. “I actually was able to work alongside the students and learn as they learned. It was a big learning experience and a way to immerse myself in the art world.”
While Adewusi’s role of studio art intern exposed her to sculpture and photography, her lifelong passion for digital art remains important to her, and the internship refreshed her interest in the area.
“It definitely reaffirmed my passion for the arts,” she said. “It was great to be able to interact with accomplished artists, like your professors or the artists in residence, to see how people are making a career out of art.”
Another summer studio art intern, Gabriel Barrios ’15 commented on Adewusi’s artistic growth over the summer.
“I feel like she was starting to move towards more inward expression of herself contrary to outside expectations,” he said.
Adewusi created an installation of posters depicting notable women in mathematics and their individual accomplishments, which will be hung this fall in Kemeny Hall. These posters are not merely literal infographics, but are rather a positive social commentary aimed at highlighting the sometimes overshadowed or ignored accomplishments of women in the mathematical field, Adewusi said.
“It’s definitely an art piece,” Adewusi said. “It’s not an informational poster. I took what they contributed to math and found a cool way to represent that graphically.”
Tankersley believes the women in mathematics posters could affect a wide audience.
“Her math series posters are very inspirational for women who are interested in math, especially a younger audience,” Tankersley said.
Another example of Adewusi’s tendency toward social commentary can be found with her recent summer showpiece featured in the rotunda at the Hop. Her memorial sculpture depicted deceased victims of police brutality in a sensitive and hopeful manner. Adewusi said the piece was met with mixed criticism.
“All of my art is a social commentary,” Adewusi said. “I wasn’t able to communicate verbally with how I felt, and I also didn’t understand how I felt being a woman at Dartmouth, being a black female math major and also being black at Dartmouth while all these hate crimes were going on. I pretty much put all of those feelings into my artwork. I try to make the commentary positive.”
Adewusi graduated from the College in June with a math major modified with studio art. Rather than pursue the Wall Street life that had attracted her during her first year, Adewusi decided that she would spend her twenties chasing a dream of supporting herself as an artist.
“I figured I might as well try and be an artist now, and if it doesn’t work out I can always fall back on my math major,” Adewusi said.
Adewusi now has a position at the College aiding Soo “Sunny” Young Park, the chair of the studio art department. Adewusi could not freely comment on the exact nature of her work with the professor, except to say “it’s just beginning.”
“It’s kind of my dream job. I never expected to be able work for an artist,” she said. “It’s great to know what it takes to produce work like she does, and to see an artist transform.”
Adewusi said she would advise College students who are afraid of committing to careers in the arts to be brave and take risks.
“Our twenties are the time to make mistakes,” Adewusi said. “Everything is possible and life is a lot bigger and has a lot more options that it feels like it does at Dartmouth. Don’t let fear be a factor in your decision.”