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Before & After SVA: Lily Maslanka's Got A Medieval Thing Going On

Lily Maslanka graduated from SVA in 2017 with a BFA in Visual & Critical Studies. When we caught up with her recently, she told us she originally came to SVA wanting to be a historian, explored being a conceptual artist while in school, and has circled back—one year out of college—to her annalist, historian roots. "I want to dedicate my life to understanding early modern craft," she said. We asked her about that and more.

What have you been doing since graduation? What kind of projects are you working on?
After I graduated I poured a lot of my energy into my day job because I wasn't sure how to fill my time. It was good for a while, but I realized that it obviously wasn't what I was passionate about. Only recently I've been spending more time with myself and working out what I really want to get out of life. I ran off to England for a bit to surround myself with armor and old master paintings. When I got back I delved into reading and making sure I surrounded myself with history, because that's what I'm truly passionate about.

Right now I'm working on trying to recreate etchings and other decorative techniques used on armor from the 15th and 16th centuries. I'm also trying to grow my own medieval garden! I'm actually more passionate about that right now than the armor. I have the three basic dyeing plants: woad, weld and madder.

What has the transition from full time student to professional life been? What are the challenges?
There's just a lot of questioning who you are, what you're doing with yourself, why you're doing what you do. Everyone says the year after you graduate is hard, but I didn't believe them, and I didn't really understand the severity of it. Truly you are only accountable to yourself, and you're completely self-sustained, so then you begin to question what the point is because no one is holding you to anything. It's a hard mindset to be in, but you realize that if you want to be happy, you have to do what you want.

Have you used your network from SVA? If so, how?
I absolutely have! A few teachers have been integral in my post-graduate life. One of whom — BFA Fine Arts faculty Jeff Wasson— I work with once a week on armor, and is essential in helping me move towards my goals, whatever they may be.

What are the benefits of attending art school in New York City?
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Period.

To read more Before and After SVA interviews, click here.

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