Student Artist Feature: Ingrid Sant ‘21

For a lot of people, their artistic endeavors end with the handprint turkeys and paper-plate masks of elementary school art classes. Ingrid Sant ‘21, however, has been going to museums and making art for as long as she can remember— and she has no intention of stopping anytime soon. The Echo sat down with Sant to discuss her childhood, her art, and her inspirations. 

Sant hails from Venice Beach, CA where she has lived her entire life in the same house. A major in environmental policy with a minor in studio art, she credits her family for encouraging her art. 

“I’m very lucky in that my family is very artistic,” Sant said in an interview with the Echo. “My dad is an architect and my mom worked in museums for a long time, so its always been a part of my life even before I understood how unique that was. My family has always made a point to visit museums and stuff when we were traveling and I also went to a Waldorf school which has a pretty strong focus on visual art as a part of your education. I was lucky in that I didn’t have to discover art, it was given to me.”

Waldorf schools focus on a holistic approach to education, emphasizing the arts and creativity as an integral part of each student’s development. Sant, who went to a Waldorf school through the 8th grade, claims that her unique education piqued her interest in the arts; however, it also caused her quite a shock when she transferred to a more “typical” high school.

“I started hearing people say ‘oh, I can’t draw’ which I’d never heard before because you had to do it at my old school,” Sant recounted. “So that was an eye opening moment for me because I hadn’t met people before who said they couldn’t draw. I also don’t think that’s true, I think everyone can draw. But I think that’s when I started to realize that my experience [with art] wasn’t like everyone else’s.”

Sant’s high school experience gave her a newfound appreciation for the arts and motivated her to take AP Studio Art her junior and senior year, which she described as really challenging “but worth it.”

“When I took AP Art, that’s when I realized how important art was to me. The academics at my school were really hard and it was so important to have that creative outlet. It forces you to use your brain in a completely different way than in any other disciplines.” 

It was in her AP Art class that Sant first began to explore the connection between environmentalism and art that eventually led her to the environmental studies and Studio Art departments at Colby. For her AP studio art Concentration, a series of 12 pieces meant to explore one theme or topic, Sant focused on her friends and family members’ relationships with the environment around them. According to Sant, this theme has been an undercurrent in her art for most of her life. 

“In some ways, without even knowing it, I’ve always focused my art around interactions between humans and the natural environment, specifically on the ecosystems I grew up in and learned so much from as a kid,” Sant said of the inspiration for her artwork. “Being from a big city, I was really lucky in that I came to Maine for the summers and I was always the kid who was up in the trees or in the tidepools. I really appreciated the visual nature of the environment, so I’ve always found inspiration in the things I see around me.” 

Tidepools in particular are a recurring source of inspiration for Sant.

“I’ve gotten really into watercolor because watercolor is kind of a natural art form. Specifically, I love painting tidepools with watercolor because tidepools are underwater and so its really cool because without me having to intervene much it ends up looking quite a bit like the [tidepool]. It’s also awesome because I can’t really control it, so whatever happens just happens naturally.

For Sant, these images of nature aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, or fun for her to make. Instead, they are powerful tools in spreading environmentalist messages to those who might otherwise not be listening. 

“[Environmentalism and art] is a connection I’ve always wanted to make, but I wasn’t sure how those would come together. In coming to Colby, I’ve realized that it actually makes a lot more sense than I thought it did,” Sant said, reflecting on her college journey. “Most people respond pretty strongly to images, so when talking about climate change, people resonate so much more deeply with an image than they ever will to statistics and writing. Art is something that can communicate with anyone regardless of where they’re from or what their politics are. It’s universal.”

To see more of Sant’s artwork, you can follow her on Instagram at @ingrids.arts or check out her website at insant21.wixsite.com.