Master of Visual Arts student
Bachelor of Visual Arts
He has always loved drawing and painting, says Tony Guo who came to AUT to study a Bachelor of Visual Arts and is currently completing a Master of Visual Arts.
“After high school, I wanted to follow my passion for drawing and painting, explore my artistic capabilities and ultimately have a clearer idea of where I situate in the contemporary art world. I chose AUT because not only are there abundant resources in terms of studio space, workshops and other forms of support, I also felt that the AUT visual arts degree is a safe space to grow as an artist.”
It's a decision he hasn’t regretted and he has thoroughly enjoyed his time at AUT.
“The lecturers always take the nurturing and encouraging approach instead of criticising. The studio culture is also lovely. I met some of my best friends by sharing studios with like-minded art practitioners.”
Finding new creative challenges
After completing his Bachelor of Visual Arts in 2020, Tony decided he wasn’t quite finished with studying and decided to remain at AUT for postgraduate study, supported by a master’s degree research scholarship.
“I think the higher you progress your studies in an art school, the more you get to challenge things that you truly care about through an academic lens. In other words, I knew that I would have more autonomy to construct my own research and art practice.”
He admits that choosing a research topic for his Master of Visual Arts was a little daunting at first.
“Two of my courses at the start of my master’s degree helped me gravitate towards the universal existential question – who am I? To put it simply, my project questions how absurd narratives in representational painting give stage to an allegory that reflects a lived racialised queer experience.
“There are conflicting sentiments that juxtapose between humour and discomfort, beauty and grotesqueness, whimsicality and violence. My research aims to find a middle-space that is not confined by binary ways of thinking. Coming from a deeply personal narrative, I wish to offer this project to other queer bodies, to empathise the shared experience of disorientation, paradox and marginalisation.”
Tony’s research is supervised by Associate Professor Fiona Amundsen and Jeena Shin, and he says he is also grateful for the support from Dr Ingrid Boberg.
A thriving community of artists
He would highly recommend AUT’s visual arts programmes, Tony says.
“There are plenty of resources and support to help you express the things you truly care about, plus AUT has great connections with the wider art community in Aotearoa. It’s nice that studios at AUT open till late so I can still have access after working in my part-time job. There are also plenty of scholarships, and I’m thankful that there are some free mental health support services if you’re going through difficult times.
“For third-year Bachelor of Visual Arts students and all Master of Visual Arts students, there’s an annual event called Talk Week. External curators and artists are invited to give students an extensive critique on their works, which is so helpful. We’re also in the loop to receive updates of exhibitions, residencies, workshops etc.”
Expecting to finish his Master of Visual Arts at the end of the year, Tony hopes to focus on his art in the future.
“My goal is to paint full-time, but it’s not possible right now for me in this economy. I’m very lucky that my supervisor offered me a part-time lecturer position, teaching in the Bachelor of Visual Arts. While my painting practice continues, I’m applying for exhibitions and residencies overseas. I’ve also entered a number of art awards, and was in the finalist exhibition of the New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award 2021.”