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Artist Spotlight: Vada Arndt

A student working on art work.
Vada Arndt works on one of her pieces at the Rialto. Credit: Harlie Mast

Among the artistic community at USF, one senior captivates the campus with her free spirit, unbridled creativity and an unwavering dedication to her art. Allow us to introduce you to Vada Arndt, an Art and Design major whose love for authenticity and pushing artistic boundaries makes her an inspiring figure on campus.

An involved student at USF, Vada is an Resident Assistant and Vice President of SGA. She has a love for music, coffee shops, reading and spending time with her friends. When she’s not taking naps or enjoying the wonders of nature, you can find her nestled away on the fourth floor of the Rialto in what’s known affectionately as “Vada’s Studio.” This treasure trove is thoughtfully cluttered with both unfinished and finished art. The ever-evolving mosaic is where Vada spends countless hours cultivating her artwork.

“I’m inspired by this space a lot,” Vada says. “Being around everyone, doing different things. Just being around such passion is super inspiring and helps me to create more art.”

Vada’s art journey began as early as kindergarten, where she would spend her days in after school art programs igniting an ever evolving passion. For Vada, art is a means to explore the contours of her past and reveal the landscape for her future. Her preferred mediums are charcoal and oil paints through which she weaves in her experiences and memories to depict visual narratives.

“What my art portrays I think is different depending on the stage in my life. Right now I’m 20 something, about to graduate college, and the stresses of life are impending," Vada says with a chuckle. "So I think it’s the perfect time to reflect on the things I’ve done in the past and the things that have shaped me and put me where I am today.”

Art student showcasing painting of a house.
Vada showcasing some of her favorite work in her studio. Credit: Harlie Mast.

Vada describes her art as “changing, thoughtful; reflective," as her family plays a huge role in the stories her art tells.

“My family is one of the focal points of my reflections right now," Vada reflects. "I experienced a lot of hard things when I was growing up and I want to use my art to address those things and get it out there in hopes to eventually move past it and accept it through my art. Making something beautiful from my past, to help me accept it also to hopefully bring a sense of reliability and intimacy and familiarity to my art.”

One of the defining features of Vada’s artwork is her affinity for the color blue. Whether it’s the tranquil azure of a clear sky or the moody cobalt of an ocean at dusk, blue finds its way into her creations, lending them a sense of nostalgia and contemplation.

“Obviously blue is supposed to evoke something, for me blue is everywhere. It’s in the cold winter months and I’ve noticed I like to paint the winter time more," Vada says. "I’ve got these old paintings and in my mind if it’s gonna be any color, it’s gonna be blue because it’s a vintage old polaroid and I wanna do monochrome. I think blue is so universal it can be the sky or the ocean. It can be snow or a shadow. I think it’s so diverse and in everything”

Vada’s art isn’t limited to just the canvas; it’s an extension of her entire persona and speaks volumes to her authenticity.

“As someone who’s nonbinary, fashion and how I present it is important to me and it changes day by day," Vada shares. "Each day the vibe I’m going for changes and that's what I love about clothes. One day I can present androgynous, another day I’m wearing a dress and heels because I’m feeling very in tune with my femininity.”

For Vada, art is a means to explore the contours of her past and reveal the landscape for her future. Credit: Harlie Mast

Looking to the future, she has an exciting project in the works: screen printing on clay artwork, a fusion of two artistic mediums that promise to be both innovative and captivating.

“One of my future projects is going to be a wooden sculpture that I will screen print and paint," Vada says. "I love the idea of screen printing on things. Non paper substrate things… Everything I’m going to work on in the future is hopefully going to be very large. I just love how imposing it is and I love taking up space”

As her artistic journey continues to inspire, Vada leaves readers with some words of wisdom

“If art is something that truly inspires you, art is everywhere. Art is in everything everyone does and it’s the buildings you see, the billboards, its music, it’s the furniture you sit on, it’s everything. So what you’re doing will make an impact in one way or another, and I think you should do something do because you love it. It’s as simple as that."

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