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StoriesRebecca Schnopp ’16

Pain, Pleasure, and Process

Rebecca, who was awarded the Stephen D. Paine Scholarship by the Boston Art Dealers Association, creates sculptures that touch on themes of pain, pleasure, and obsessive behavior.

banana with pins in it in front of white background

Rebecca Schnopp won the 2016 Stephen D. Paine Scholarship from the Boston Art Dealers Association in her senior year of the BFA Fine Arts program at the College of Art and Design. Established in 1999 by the Boston Art Dealers Association, The Stephen D. Paine Scholarship is designed to support students who are entering their final year in studio art programs at colleges in the city of Boston. As young artists conclude their undergraduate studies, the Boston Art Dealers Association provides an extension of assistance in order to support students’ commitment to the making of art.

It is a rigorous jury process and comes with both a scholarship award, as well as an exhibition at the New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University.

Rebecca is a dedicated, motivated and very thoughtful artist producing incredible work that touches on pain, pleasure, S&M, repetitive behaviors and meditative processes. She creates sculptures using fruit, cacti, and other natural and man-made objects that are then manipulated, "de-spined" or "re-spined" and somehow directed through the repetitive actions of pinning and stitching.

female student adding small pins to grapes


How did you hear about the Stephen D. Paine Scholarship?

Associate Professor Matthew Cherry, the Chair of the Fine Arts Department, had mentioned the opportunity during Junior Studio class in the spring semester.

What work did you submit to the Boston Art Dealers Association?

My submissions included a total of nine pieces, all sculpture altered with found objects, either organic or metallic in nature. The first three were an apple, banana and orange, all embellished with thousands of dressmaker pins. The fourth and fifth pieces were apples juxtaposed with cactus spines. One apple with the spines protruding from its skin at every half inch and the other with the spines jutting out from a bite taken from it. The sixth piece was an apple with 20, four inch nails hammered into it's surface. The seventh was a cactus with its spines removed and replaced with round pearl-headed pins. The eighth piece was a cactus with various sewing instruments inserted into it. The ninth and final piece was a pin cushion with cactus spines inserted into it.

banana with pins in it in front of white background

Would you speak more broadly about your work and the themes you examine?

The overall themes I tend to work with are pain, pleasure, obsessive behaviors, sexuality and death. Everything I create relies heavily on its process, therefore, the passage of time is a large component as well.

The body of work I submitted focuses on my interest in the use of meditative processes as a means of breaking free of the anxieties that plague us as individuals. In this case, my compulsion of seeking closure through body-focused repetitive behavior enables me to endure the use of copious amounts of repetition to enter into the state of flow. The banana for example, involved the insertion of 3,000 dressmaker pins, adding up to a total of 4 hours worth of work. As time passes the pieces become petrified, leaving behind a new version of its original self. I then leave these new forms open to interpretation, making the process of creating them the primary focus.

How has your work evolved during your undergraduate experience?

Creation, for me, began as something that I wanted to do, but has grown into something I feel compelled to do for my own well-being. I have also grown to appreciate the process of making and it is now a large focus within my work.

apple with pins in it in front of white back drop


Do you have any advice for new students in the Fine Arts department?

You are not an artist; you are a student of the arts. Recognize the impermanence of your current standing in life, and do not fear it. Take as many risks as you can and with these risks expect failure and hope for success. Create work that you wake up thinking about and obsess over. Create work that evokes a conversation worth having, and have that conversation with as many people as you can. You have four years, and an audience at your fingertips, take advantage of it.

Do you have any plans for life after Lesley?

It is my goal to work within the administrative department of an arts affiliated establishment. As for continuing my art processes, I plan to keep creating and growing as an individual through my work.