Spotlight: Reeta Marjatta Leinonen

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1. Where are you from?
Finland

2. What brought you to being an art major?
From when I was five years old I declared I want to be an artist. Then when came the time to choose my college, I noticed nothing else interested me. I had no choice, so to speak.

rheeta13. What do you want to do with your degree?
I want to practice as an artist, and have a graduate degree abroad.

4. What are a few books that you’d recommend reading?
Reading anything at all is always a good thing, but I have enjoyed reading for example The Stranger by Albert Camus, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and The Trial by Franz Kafka.

5. Tell us something about yourself that we wouldn’t know or guess about you.
I have tried almost every dance you can imagine for 5 years, from samba to tango, from hip hop to african, and not a single one kept me interested.

rheeta 26. What is your favorite spot on campus?
The lobby of Phelps. Have you seen the chairs? They are amazing!! Like from a castle!

7. Who’s your favorite professor and why?
I have to say Martyka. He challenges me like no other, and annoys me endlessly. By doing that he gets me all riled up so that I will get back at him with my work!

8. Who are your role models?
I have to tell you that I don’t have one. I get inspired by many people, but I don’t have anyone in general that I look up to and think: “Ooh, I wanna be like that someday.” I’m just trying to become myself.

9. What is your favorite album/ lyrics/ band?
I like all types of music, but to say a song with superb lyrics i love, is definitely A Ballad Of a Thin Man by Bob Dylan. The absurdity of the song is in a nutshell what I think everybody experiences sometimes in life. I also enjoy immensely classical music, everybody should listen to Ravel’s piano concerto in G major and Rachmaninov’s piano concerto no. 2 in C minor.

10. Predict your future.
In ten years I hope I have my graduates degree from a good school, have had more than a few group and solo exhibitions, maybe not yet knocking on the door of the success as I’m just 31, but living abroad and working with my art.

11. If you were giving someone a campus tour where would you take them?
I would show them the feral squirrels and the beautiful little garden thingie we have next to McLaurin. And of course my spot at the 2nd floor studio.

12. What are your favorite websites?
I like to read jokes so finnish joke sites as riemurasia.net, and then the finnish sites for news as iltalehti.fi and facebook fails are also always entertaining.

13. Tell us about a great experience.
What to tell. When I was still in upper secondary school I interviewed a Finnish female painter at her studio and it influenced me greatly. She, Kristiina Uusitalo, had just that year gotten a prize for being the Finnish artist of the year, studied in America when she was my age, had a family and a succesfull career and selling paintings for 50.000 even in such a small country as Finland. That meeting gave me conviction that what I’m not trying to do, is not impossible.

14. What has surprised you about Winthrop?
I’m surprised at the size. My own art school is divided in two building and we hold maybe just a bit over 100 students. The main schools bigger, but we never see them as they are in a different city.

rheet315. What has been your greatest challenge?
Some cultural differences on top of the language. For example in finnish language we don’t have a word “please” so I had to constantly remind myself of that so I wouldn’t seem too rude. And the small talk, I can’t do that, I’m always direct and personal when talking and that’s a finnish thing too.

16. What will you miss about Winthrop after graduation?
The teachers, my peers and the inspiring atmosphere. I absolutely love being around brilliant, motivated people, they will make you that much better!

17. What advice do you have for incoming freshman?
Plan ahead and even if things don’t go according to that plan, be forgiving towards yourself. Flexibility is a big plus!

18. If you could write a letter to your younger self what would it say?
Chill out and concentrate. Don’t talk, do.

19. Tell us about your experience in an internship, volunteer, a research project or co-op.
Um, I don’t think I have one to tell about.

20. Best place in Rock Hill to grab a bite to eat.
I don’t know, art students don’t eat, especially if they don’t have a car to get off campus.

21. Who are your artistic influence?
Sooo, many. When I was younger I thought Degas had a dreamlike beauty to his work. Now I’m amazed by Maya Lin and her way of treating the space around her, Richard Serra and Francis Bacon, just to name a few.

22. If you were at a dinner party and could invite five people from all time, dead or alive, who would you invite?
This is a hard one. I think I would pick brilliant minds as Virginia Woolf, Immanuel Kant, Maya Lin, Franz Kafka and Buddha. There would be no guarantees about smooth pleasant conversation though, it could be really awkward!

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