The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Surfing frees the artistic soul of CSUN student

“The art starts in the notebooks and then transforms into larger pieces.” -said Michelle Jacobson. The ocean inspired her art, it was a major project in the first semester of Michelle’s Graduate studies in Fine Art. Photo Credit: Hayley Hill/ The Sundial


People say that if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.

This seems to be Cal State Northridge fine arts student Michelle Jacobson’s mantra.

She has found the secret to using her creative outlets as a means of inspiration for school and work. The 22-year-old has been making art ever since she was a little kid, discovering ways to create and explore.

In her undergraduate studies at CSUN, Jacobson experimented with performative art and mainly focused on installations and watercolor paintings.

Jacobson graduated from CSUN in May with her bachelor’s degree in art. This semester, she is working toward a master of fine arts degree. Jacobson also works as a lifeguard at the Northridge Park Pool during summer, on campus at the Student Resource Center pool, and the Plaza Pool year round.

Working on a master’s degree requires hours in the studio, formulating creative ideas and producing work that will be displayed and critiqued. This demanding work requires some sort of outlet.

For Jacobson, her sanctuary is the ocean. She draws inspiration for her art from her love of surfing. She grew up constantly going to the beach with her family and learned to surf from her brothers when she was 9.

“I remember the first couple of waves I caught and the amazing feeling it is to be moving with a force of nature,” Jacobson said. “It was like nothing else I had ever done. There is something about being in the ocean totally alone that is invigorating. It’s really a moment of sublime, where you’re totally engulfed in this ecstasy of being a part of something so amazing and natural.”

Surfing is a freeing experience that allows her to express herself through an active outlet, which in turn, helps her express herself in the classroom.

The moments she has by herself on the waves influence and inspire her artistic thinking.

Jacobson recently created an installation that is 25 yards long and featured in the CSUN art department. The blue-colored, untitled installation is made out of old pool covers.

She took the pool covers from the trash and decided to cut out the words “The grass grows on its own,” channeling a live-and-let-live ideology. The letters are about 10 feet long that sway in the wind. The draping of the words emulates the movement of seaweed in water, and become obscured when hung.

Art Professor, Samantha Fields said, “I have worked with Michelle for two years and have seen her evolve into a highly gifted, intuitive artist. She has a good sense of when to trust her gut. She is a quiet observer with poetic leanings whose work at this point is largely text based. Be it a small intimate watercolor, or a bold larger than life banner of towering text, she always gives her viewers something to ponder about the larger world.

Jacobson also has a love for water coloring, which starts from her notebook of ideas. She uses bright colors to make a tie dyed-looking wave painting. She lays the water on the canvas before putting the paint on section by section and lets the paint bleed through the water to the edges.

“The paint doesn’t go where the water doesn’t go so, if I’m very careful, I can leave a little edge where the waves and the shapes connect,” Jacobson said.

Surfing and art have many elements in common, but one that Jacobson lingers on is the beauty in movement and expression.

Surfing is a lifestyle that doesn’t conform to any rules or regulations. It’s about going out there and having fun with friends. Long boarding is about style and mimics dancing in a way. There is a flow and elegance to it, much like the brush strokes in a painting. Both take focus, drive and execution.

“Michelle is an artist who has no fear,” said Christian Tedeschi, assistant art professor and Jacobson’s sculpture professor. “Whether she’s making objects, performances, drawings, prints, or writing poetry, she is always taking unexpected leaps while challenging her mental and physical boundaries.”

Jacobson’s free spirit and curiosity make her a unique person who can channel her creative abilities and translate them into something palpable in school.

She sometimes works double shifts at the various pools, goes to school, and still tries to find time to surf all in one day. She is truly a water nymph.

“[Jacobson is] always pushing forward with a lot of heart and a keen intuition,” said Tedeschi. “We expect great things from her here at CSUN and beyond.”

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