Student spotlight: singer, musician and artist Dorothy Qu ’19

by Mikey LeDoux | 10/26/16 12:00am


An example of one of Dorothy Qu's doodles.

Dorothy Qu ’19 is a triple threat: singer, flute and piccolo player and doodler. Her art is a more informal endeavor, supplementing her involvement in the co-ed a cappella group The Sing Dynasty and the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra. However, her drawings and doodles, previously found on the margins of her class notes, are now becoming highly sought after by student groups and individuals around campus.

For Qu, art is a medium that has the power to make herself and others happy.

“I like how [art] appeals to the most basic emotions,” Qu said. “It’s like, ‘this makes me feel happy’ or ‘this feels good to draw.’”

Qu’s lack of formal art background has not stopped her from continuing to create pieces.

“I think that’s the fun part — I like this thing that I don’t understand,” Qu said. “Any time I pick up a pencil, I don’t know what’s going to happen because I don’t really know the ‘science’ behind it.”

Going to a science-focused high school, art has always been an extracurricular activity for Qu. She took her first art class her senior year because she had maxed out on her science classes. At Dartmouth, Qu is known for her wit and creativity, William Paja ’16, a friend and member of the Sings said.

“She’s constantly thinking about creative things,” Paja said. “Music can be very structured and drawing gives her the freedom to do what she wants.”

Qu runs the Sings’ social media, which allows her to use her graphic design skills. Julie Solomon ’17, the Sings musical director, said that Qu is particularly good at “coming up with fun concepts and great designs.”

“She’s changed the image of The Sings — we feel so professional now,” Solomon said.

After seeing her doodles, the Sings realized that they could use her creativity to promote the group.

“Looking through her notebook, you find the wittiest, coolest stuff,” Paja said. “She is an incredibly gifted person.”

Qu’s doodles of humans as animals inspired the Sings’ new show poster and cover photo put out in preparation for the new members show her freshman fall. She drew each of the new members, known as “Eaglets,” including herself, as eagles in various stages of growth.

These types of human-animal watercolors become so popular that people were asking for them as presents for parents, friends and significant others, Qu said. She has started posting her pieces on an Instagram, @dorothydoesart. There, you can see the breadth of her doodles, which have a variety of styles and subjects. Qu said she gets inspiration from everything, including interesting one-liners her professor say in class.

Qu submitted a design for the official Winter Carnival 2016 t-shirt, which was eventually selected as the winner. She drew a snowflake wherein she cleverly hid Dartmouth-related images like Baker Tower and the Lone Pine. Lillian Zhou ’19, one of the chairs of the Winter Carnival Council, said that the design probably led to increased sales of the t-shirt.

In high school, Qu served as the drum major of her marching band and played in the New Jersey Youth Symphony Orchestra. Her passion for music has continued to grow through DSO. In this fall’s show, Qu will have a special piccolo part in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5.

Qu appreciates the unique sound of the piccolo, noting that it can sound magical and fairy-like. Filippo Ciabatti, conductor of DSO, noted Qu’s improvement over the past year.

“She is a very committed person and has high technical skills,” Ciabatti said. “She has a good sense of musicality that she’s developed, [and] she knows how to be part of an ensemble.”

Her natural musicality has also helped her in the Sings.

“[At her audition], she clearly had a music background and musical ability,” Solomon said. “It was clear she could pick up music really fast and would be a great addition to any musical ensemble.”

Qu is seeking out opportunities to further explore and cultivate her art skills through organizations like the Digital Arts Leadership and Innovation Lab. As a government major, Qu hopes to combine her interests in international relations and political theory with music and art.

“I want to merge all of those spheres,” Qu said. “I just don’t know what that looks like yet.”

Qu is a member of The Dartmouth opinion staff.