Student Spotlight: Artist and actor Emma Mouzon '18

by Margot Byrne | 3/1/16 6:00pm


Emma Mouzon ’18 has always been artistically curious, but has taken her innovativeness to the next level in her most recent sculptures.

According to Mouzon, she began taking studio art courses at the age of eight, in her hometown of Los Angeles. Each week the class would embark on various drawing and painting projects, activities Mouzon found incredibly exciting and fulfilling.

After joining the varsity tennis team during her sophomore year of high school, however, Mouzon lost touch with her artistic pursuits. Mouzon “missed just being able to go into the studio and paint,” she said.

Once arriving at Dartmouth, Mouzon immediately knew she wanted to enroll in a studio art class. During her first winter term, she signed up for “Sculpture I,” which not only forced her to leave her room and venture into the frigid temperatures, but also “encouraged [her] to embrace [her] more creative side again,” Mouzon said.

Mouzon bought a rubber duck in order to generate a unique mold for her first project of the course. For her second project, she was tasked with creating a gesture out of wood. She decided to portray the ripple effect of raindrops falling into a puddle — a particularly difficult gesture to represent, according to her professor.

“Every time we received guidelines for our projects, [Mouzon] would always start tinkering away at new ideas and whenever she encountered a problem, she’d find a way to make it work,” Valeria Ramirez ’18, one of Mouzon’s classmates, said.

While making her “gesture,” Mouzon said that her professor instructed her not to replicate nature and abide by its laws, but rather to “go crazy with it,” to create work that is “representative” rather than “imitative.” Mouzon found this moment critical, as it inspired her to integrate a whimsicality into her aesthetic that she was afraid to channel before.

Mouzon expressed this newfound freedom in her culminating project, which required her to elect two mediums and assemble them however she wanted. To create the piece, entitled “Environment,” Mouzon “went wild,” attaching bamboo sticks to colorful pieces of tissue paper to create a cascading structure that was later featured in the popular Facebook page “Artists of Dartmouth.”

Mouzon intricately overlayed pink, blue and green tissue paper, molding these pieces into cherry blossoms that repeated throughout the sculpture. Mouzon did research on Japan in order to represent these blossoms accurately, tying them to the bamboo sticks in the traditional Japanese fashion.

“[Mouzon] definitely worked the longest hours out of everyone in the class, dedicating substantial time to outside work – probably around 40 to 50 hours per piece,” Kelsey Phares ’17, another of Mouzon’s classmates, said. “Yet she was still the most upbeat person at 2 a.m., always there to support others and give them advice on their work.”

Mouzon noted that she wanted her piece to be playful, in order to “oscillate between the realm of fantasy and reality.”

Ramirez feels that Mouzon accomplished that goal.

“[Mouzon’s] sculptures embodied her essence. They were playful, loud and very magical,” Ramirez said. “They were especially dreamy, [making] me feel as if I were in a different place while looking at them.”

Mouzon also wanted the piece to be inviting and physically accessible, to allow viewers to form a more “personal” connection with the otherwise “impersonal” medium of sculpture. Phares said that Mouzon’s piece’s interactive quality heightened the experiences of viewers.

“[She] probably did the best combination of different mediums and made them work together,” Phares said. “Her pieces were interactive — she understood the importance of people enjoying the art.”

For Mouzon, the compliments she received on “Environment,” combined with its social media appearances, were an “incredible honor.”

“I realized that I have this creative spirit in me that was denied in high school,” Mouzon said. “I want to create things that creates joy in others.”

In light of her artistic success with sculpture, Mouzon wants to continue experimenting with art and performance, which led her to sign up for “Acting I” last spring term. She said that the freedom she had learned to embrace in sculpture carried over to acting, as it helped her to adapt the personas of the various characters she played.

“[Mouzon] is certainly a person of great enthusiasm and positive energy, who committed herself wholeheartedly to the acting process,” theater professor James Rice said. “[Mouzon] was able to live truthfully under the imaginary circumstances.”

Mouzon said that both acting and sculpture are “invigorating,” as they allow her to become more thoughtful and purposeful with her work and find self-fulfilment. She particularly enjoys the intersection of fantasy and reality that both mediums permit her to explore, and is now considering a theater minor.

Currently on her off-term in California, Mouzon said that she is also eager to pursue her budding interest in photography, as she continues to expand her artistic repertoire. She wants to undertake a personal project when she returns to Dartmouth, photographing the seasons on campus and later painting replications.

“I love the seasons at Dartmouth and I want to embrace the beauty that campus has to offer,” Mouzon said. “I want to combine my love of painting with photography to create an original project of my own.”

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