Student Spotlight: artist and Instagram star Rossina Naidoo ’18

by Zach Cherian | 10/20/16 12:00am

Rossina Naidoo ’18 combines her passion and talent in visual art with a savvy social media presence — her work has been featured on popular Instagram accounts like Nawden, and one drawing garnered tens of thousands of likes as a result. But there was a point in her life when she thought she would have no choice but to give up on art, which had always been a consistent fixture in her life.

“I’ve always done it,” Naidoo said. “In prep school we had to take it, and then as soon as we had to pick classes I kept picking it.”

However, once she arrived on campus, she was not sure how to fit this passion into her college experience as a quantitative social sciences major. But she credits the College’s liberal arts requirements with continuing her relationship with visual art.

“When I got here, I thought I was giving it up, but then I had to do my art distrib[utive] anyway,” Naidoo said.

Her single art distributive led to a declared minor in art, enabling her to formally pursue her passion for visual art. Her professors are glad for that as her striking art has a profound effect on its viewers.

“It’s dramatic, there’s this quiet intensity,” said studio art professor Colleen Randall, who was Naidoo’s Drawing I professor and is teaching Naidoo again this fall in Painting II. “There’s a psychological element to them just in terms of the gaze and the space that she creates, the spatial world she creates for her portraits to exist in.”

Naidoo describes her art as “realism mixed with surrealism,” and she specifically enjoys drawing and painting people.

“I like to do figures, but then do something more imaginative in the background,” Naidoo said.

Shinar Jain, Naidoo’s friend and current roommate, has been on the other side of the easel as a subject for one of Naidoo’s paintings.

“The posing experience was really fun,” Jain said. “Seeing myself that big and in painting form was very cool.”

The effect of Naidoo’s work translates on the screen as well. Naidoo regularly shares her newest art on Instagram and, more recently, on her Facebook, which has resulted in significant positive feedback. One painting of hers was reposted by the art-focused Instagram account Nawden, and her work when she last checked was incredibly well-received, garnering 18,000 likes, Naidoo said.

Naidoo’s skill is well-earned; as a student and an artist, Naidoo is completely engaged.“She’s very quick to learn, she’s very focused and intense and sensitive to visual language, and she has a strong emotional response to the material and her subject matter,” Randall said.

Her roommate agreed, adding that her focus extends outside of the classroom as well.

“She’s always thinking about her next project, her next subject and what kind of tone she wants to set in her next paintings,” Jain said.

Even in the two years she has been at Dartmouth, Naidoo — and her professor — have noticed changes in her work. Naidoo said that her interests are now moving away from figures and into everyday life in her art.“She’s introducing more color into her work, so that adds new layers of meaning and description in the work,” Randall said.While art may not be a full-time occupation for Naidoo after graduation, she has no intentions to abandon it.“I think I’ll keep drawing for myself,” Naidoo said, and she mentioned digital marketing as a potential career path. Naidoo’s art followed her from high school and into college and from Instagram to Facebook — there is no telling where it will follow her next.

Shinar Jain is a member of The Dartmouth’s business staff.