Weng San Sit Navigates the Jungle

The General Studies 2011 alum on editors, curators, gallerists, and grad school
Feb 03, 2015

Weng San Sit


What have you been doing since graduating from the General Studies program?

During the first year after graduation, I did freelance gigs, photographing events and retouching and archiving for other artists. At the same time, I participated in a residency sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council: SPARC (Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide). I led a weekly photography workshop with the seniors, and also collaborated with them on a project. I also spent some time digesting all the things that I have learned during my time at ICP, which means looking up artists or reading recommended articles that had been discussed during the program. We covered so much that I will probably need many years to go through them. This fall, I began MFA studies at the California Institute of the Arts.

What impact has the experience of going through the ICP program had on you?

Although I had been taking pictures for quite awhile, I went into ICP without an art background, so the experience definitely built a very critical foundation for me. I was astonished by the huge diversity of artists and critical theories I was introduced to. The experience also provided the opportunity to vigorously experiment and push the boundaries of my own work.

Is there anything that has surprised you subsequent to graduation?

There is no doubt that there are challenges being out of school, having to find work, making art during this tough economic time, and knowing that there are probably a few thousand others who are in the same position. One pleasant surprise, however, was how much the school’s effort to prepare us for the “jungle” matters, whether you are an artist or a photojournalist. What I found really useful was the Exhibition and Portfolio Review Day, not only for the ability to get feedback from a wide range of professionals in the field but also for the semester-long process of editing, printing, and discussing the portfolio. That made a huge difference when I met up with editors, curators, and gallerists during and after the program!

What would you say to people contemplating applying to the program?

Go for it! Students from my year came from different backgrounds and are interested in developing a variety of practices. The program offers a wide spectrum of courses, so much so that most of us had to make difficult decisions when choosing classes. As long as you are willing to try out new things, you will get a lot out of the program.

How did completing the GS program prepare you for graduate-level study in photography?

While writing my statement for the MFA application, I was surprised to discover how much I had grown as an artist during the one year of the ICP program, not only in technical competency, but also in my ability to engage more clearly and deeply in social commentaries within my own work.


© Weng San Sit