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Student Stories: Marina Wittemann

I am Marina, 39 years old, originally from Moscow. For the past six years, I've been living and working in Saarland, Germany. Since 2013, I've dedicated myself to being a full-time artist.


Read about Stage 3 Fine Art Student Marina's learning journey below.


Marina is hosting an event during our Student Voice Festival exploring the importance of developing a unique and authentic voice in your art.  Find out more information and register your interest here.

 

What is your previous educational experiences and what drew you to OCA?


From early childhood, I was drawn to creative activities, but my path initially led me to a law degree and a decade-long career in business for financial reasons. Eventually, I pursued my passion for art, though it wasn't easy. After two years of art studies in Moscow, I continued in São Paulo and Shanghai. I realized that while self-learning is possible, a structured art education accelerates the journey of self-discovery in art.


Can you describe your OCA journey?


Studying at OCA was a breath of fresh air, especially in Shanghai where English creative resources were scarce. First, preparing and passing exams to confirm my English level was challenging in China. Then, in OCA understanding philosophical theories during the "Understanding Visual Culture" course was tough. However, I eventually relaxed, experimented, and pushed beyond course requirements. This journey has been about continuous growth and exploration.


What was the Tutor and/or Peer Support like on your course?


This is what I enjoyed the most. For example, Helen Rousseau, introduced me to Phyllida Barlow, changing my understanding of sculpture, and advised me to explore synaesthesia and Kandinsky. Helen noticed that colour was always a priority in my experiments. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had multiple synaesthesia, which explained my lifelong attraction to painting and creativity.


Another significant moment was when I missed a workshop on my research topic. When I contacted not my tutor Katie Taylor - she not only recommended resources but also met with me to discuss everything in person. This approach inspires and creates a sense of humanity and caring beyond academics.


Overall, my tutors—Diana Ali, Adam Thompson, Hayley Lock, and Michele Whiting—have been supportive and professionally challenging, which is crucial for learning. 


A special mention must go to the incredible fellow students I was lucky enough to meet. They not only support and help in confusing issues, but also mix different cultures, ages, and socio-economic backgrounds, working at higher art levels, and communicating across disciplines have expanded my understanding of the world and my reaction to it in my practice.


What does studying with OCA mean to you?


The "piece of paper" with a bachelor's degree is insignificant to me; it's the rich experiences that matter. Life is about feeling deeply and richly, and studying provides the tools to achieve this.


What's next?


My recent experiments in "research-based practice" have shown how complex philosophical theories relate to my work with materials like wood and recycled newspapers. I now aim to explore aesthetics and ethics further, possibly pursuing a master's degree.


Any advice?


Understand why you're here and what your ultimate goal is—whether it's obtaining a degree, enjoying a hobby, gaining recognition, creating a masterpiece, or changing the world. When faced with challenges, focus on this goal. Don't wait for the perfect moment; do and make it now.


 

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