The Early Decision application package for
the fine arts program of The Cooper Union required the following:
- 1 Sketchbook
- 5 original artworks
- 6 prompt-based art projects
- 12 short essays
- 20 portfolio pieces
This page will be dedicated to documenting these 6 prompt-based art pieces.
a composition of 3 or more unrelated objects drawn from observation
which in combination create emotion
a clone self portrait
a view from the crowd to periphery
a sequence or series of images defining a healing process
Deracination: to pull up by the roots; to isolate or alienate (a person) from a native
or customary culture or environment.
design a guide for crossing borders
Since publishing this page, I've received so many emails (and cries of distress !!) from zooming Cooper Union to-be-attendees. I've decided to dedicate this last section of this page to providing y’all some tips on how to deal with the prompts & gruesome anxiety. These aren’t holy truths - I'm only sharing methods & ways of thinking that I personally found helpful during each step of this Cooper Union admissions process. Of course, feel free to still shoot me an email or message anytime. I know these times are TRYING, and it really helps talking to another person who can empathize & stand by you during this challenge. Ok :
Hello! I'm so happy that you're interested in applying to Cooper Union :) You will no doubt experience intense pressure, fear, complete and final death between the time you receive the prompts and the time when you finally receive word about admission. Understand that you aren't alone – and that from the very start, you knew you had the potential to become a part of the Cooper Union family. After all, you have made the decision to take on the Hometest challenge!! Embrace this stress and fear. Use these emotions to fuel your ability to think straight and work efficiently.
If you are like me, you're already scouring the entire web for tidbits & examples on how to approach the test. The #1 thing you've probably read is to "BE CREATIVE!!!!! Think outSidE the boX!!" So more specifically, this is how I approached doing so. Before I committed to a solution to a prompt, I first wrote out ideas that I thought to be "cliche", ideas that I imagine a hundred other students will probably go with. For example, for clone self portrait, at the top of my cliche list was "paint two pictures of myself, two identities." Afterwards, I distilled the list to at least 5-10 potential ideas until I arrived at the strongest, well-rounded project. If you're not at least 70% excited or committed, it's worth thinking some more and spending a bit more time to develop a better plan. Of course, this might fuel procrastination, so unfortunately there must be a point where you make the executive decision to plow forwards with a concept.
Although this may seem super corny, be real to yourself as an artist and as a thinker. Admissions will have seen thousands of tests and have developed a keen radar to detect when applicants are "trying too hard" or "being fake" in order to appeal to someone or fabricate a persona. Of course, you'll push yourself and produce images or objects and thoughts new, but you'll know when you're not being honest to yourself & own interests. Ultimately, these projects will be work that you'll be proud of in a sphere outside of Cooper Admissions -don't solely make work to "get in": try your best to create something you love, and trust me, naturally the love will shine through and be in your favor.
Make art that you're not comfortable making. Though at first it may seem counterintuitive to simultaneous "make art you love" and "make art you are uncomfortable making” : be brave in the process and enjoy the product. If you've mastered drawing or collaging, make your projects out of clay or video or performance. You could also build upon your skills: If you've mastered typography or hand-lettering, make a book. Spend 0 minutes worrying about sub-par craftsmanship; after all it's the idea that counts. For example, you could easily tell that the videos in my own Hometest where shitty and poorly put together -but admissions can easily overlook craft; after all improving technique is what college is for. Rather, they love signs that you are not afraid of pushing your limits and putting in effort to formulate unique ideas.
Within the final Hometest box, I also included a bound booklet of explanations of each project (and also the images of my 20 portfolio pieces). The explanations are definitely not required; some believe that the public's uninfluenced, initial interpretation of the artist's work is the most valuable, I felt that for specifically the Home test, explaining my thoughts would be beneficial to me as a prospective student and help Admissions understand my processes more clearly. To seem even more on top of your game, include a cover letter and table of contents, itemizing everything within the box.
After you've shipped your hard work away to 30 Cooper, the suffering is not over. Expect no rest from anxiety, since now you must sit and wait helplessly for the "Congratulations!" or "Sorry" email. For me, frantically researching statistics helped, but it obviously won't change anything fundamentally. If & when you find yourself panicking a bit, eat or meditate. Netflix/movies, friends, art, animals, nature, music, memes. learn a new language, learn how to code, read a book. Honestly to win this part of the game is to just pass the time — it's totally doable! You can do it.
ALSO: THE EMAIL WILL NOT COME ON TIME. Restrain yourself from checking every 3 minutes during the day/week it is supposed to arrive. That will kill you. The email will come, and it will come 1 week late, 1 week early, guaranteed.
Which leads me to dealing with the possibility, or reality, of rejection. This place is definitely not worth you tearing yourself apart. Not everyone could have done what you have done; completing the admissions package was a huge accomplishment, and no matter what, Cooper's admissions decision will do nothing to negate that. Your value and self image shouldn't correlate with the decision in any way. After all, statistically, if a thousand geniuses applied with you, they statistically might send away nine-hundred and forty geniuses. Plus Cooper Union has so seen many transfer kids, and you can always reapply - it's not a one-time shot. At the end of the day, if you are kind to yourself, you'll flourish regardless of the institution you choose.
I'm here to help, and I probably have a good idea how it feels to be where you are. I'm also open to giving you a tour around this place if you're ever in the area. We can go out for celebration food or some serious "fuck cooper union u don’t need it and here's why" food. Either way, looking forward to hearing from you.