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Adventures and Metamorphoses

Joelle Cicak

Joelle Cicak ’16

From Paleolithic cave paintings and ancient cultures to boundary-breaking modern art, Joelle Cicak ’16 finds inspiration across disciplines and centuries. Here, she discusses how she learned to bring her intellectual interests to her art, the importance of education and the joys of creative freedom.


Art & art history (studio-art concentration).

Clubs and organizations:

Eta Sigma Phi (social chair), Archeology Club (vice president), Arts Collective (treasurer), Alpha Lambda Delta, Norman M. Eberly English Writing Center (tutor), Latin Club (teacher, grades K-2).


J. David Wright First Year Prize in Latin and Dean’s List.

On choosing Dickinson:

I originally came to Dickinson because we have a wonderful classical-studies program. Although I later decided to pursue art, I still enjoy taking courses in Latin and in Greek and Roman cultures. I’m happy to be able to study both [the classics and art], and the classics have a huge influence on my art.

Favorite book:

The Metamorphoses by Ovid.

Favorite movie:

It’s a tie between O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Everything Is Illuminated.

Favorite class:

I took Sculpture Ceramics, taught by [Charles A. Dana Professor of Art] Barbara Diduk, the spring semester of my freshman year; it was one of the most challenging courses I have taken at Dickinson so far. The projects were all very open-ended, and we had to build on the ideas of each one and carry them through the next project. I loved this freedom, and I grew more as an artist through this one course than I had in years [of previous instruction]. Through this class, I learned something very important—that art is an intellectual activity. I had never really thought about art in this way. This realization was why I decided to become a studio-art major.

On studying abroad:

This summer, I studied plein air drawing and painting in Toulouse, France. The course was incredible; we [also] took trips to museums around the area. The prehistoric cave paintings in Niaux were amazing. I couldn’t believe I was actually in the presence of some of the earliest known examples of art.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Chicken fajitas at the KOVE.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …

… Ovid.

In a perfect world …

… art and classics would not be first on the chopping block for high-school curricula, and education as a whole would not be treated as a gambling chip for politicians.

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Published January 7, 2015