ASCC Faculty member Maj Kalfus has had an extensive career in the fashion industry, and subsequently reentered the world of fine art, where she is noted for her portraiture, landscapes, and cartooning. Maj has also been recently featured in a collaborative program with The New Yorker interviewing individuals pursuing fulfilling second careers.
I sat down with Maj and asked her a few questions about her work.
How did you become interested in art?
MK: My father was artist, an art teacher, and a teacher. So I was exposed to art at a very early period in my life, and then I went to the High School of Art & Design [NYC] and from there to the Fashion Institute of Technology. I then went into the fashion industry and was an illustrator, and involved in other areas of fashion. I went back to college in my fifties, and finished my degrees in fine art and have been teaching painting and drawing ever since.
You are teaching a class on “freeing the line” and also sharing your work in an upcoming presentation at ASCC on January 11 called “Body & Soul.” Is there a special connection between drawing and the body? If so, what is it?
MK: To me, there is. Having started taking art instruction very young, we always did a lot of drawing. Whatever we did, we had to learn how to draw, and the body, classically, was one of the elements of how you learned to draw. I also took anatomy. When I went into fashion and illustration, line became very important. I also had a Japanese teacher, who taught Japanese brush painting which I incorporated into my drawing, and brought this sense of line into my fashion illustration. To me, they are interconnected: the body, drawing and the line; the line, drawing, and the body.
What might you say to a student unsure about taking a drawing class?
MK: I generally tell everybody that you learn to draw by learning to see. You have to see, and then connect that to your hand. It is a process of doing both of those things. I work with students in separate areas: first on line, then also on contour drawing, which is what you see. Sometimes your hand is more important, sometimes it is how you connect to your hand that is more important: drawing is a little bit of both.
Anything else we should know?
MK: I believe that everybody has something to say artistically. I always tell my students – line is like your signature—everybody signs their name a little differently. When you are drawing, everybody has a signature, everyone can make a mark, everyone can draw a line. When people say, “I can’t draw a straight line,” I always reply “I’d never ask you to draw one!”
– ASCC Executive Director