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Cooper Union Senior Profiles: Adriana Cordovi

Who are you? Tell me about yourself.

My name is Adriana Amelia Cordovi and I am an artist based in New York City. I was born and raised in a small, rural town in Cuba. I come from a family of creatives. My grandfather was a dramatist, director and theater critic, my father is a painter, and my brother is a filmmaker. I wanted to be an actress for most of my childhood, which my grandfather supported by writing plays for me and allowing me to perform in his theater. My father was exiled when I was two years old, due to his criticism of Cuba’s authoritarian regime and lack of free speech. I was granted political asylum by The United States when I was eight years old, which is how I ended up here. I spent my teenage years in Miami, which I feel very fortunate for because I never felt like I lost touch with my cultural background. I floated around for a few years, trying to adjust to a new country and language, yet struggling to fit in. My dad began giving me drawing lessons in my early teens, which shifted the trajectory of my life in major ways. I had shied away from acting due to my inability to speak English well, and drawing allowed me to express myself without the limitations of spoken language. My drawings helped me enroll in an arts high school that helped me create a portfolio worthy of a full-ride scholarship to a top university. I moved to New York to attend Cooper Union when I was nineteen and have remained here ever since. New York City feels like a true home for me. I live in the East Village with my partner and our two cats, and I am very grateful and proud of the life I have created for myself.

When are you graduating?

May 24, 2023

What is your major? And why did you choose your major?

I am graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and minors in Philosophy and Literature. The flexibility within the BFA program allows me to work with multiple mediums without having to commit to one. This freedom is unique to Cooper, and it is similar to the way that I approach art-making. The combination of minors allows me to develop my literary and philosophical interests which strongly inform my art practice.

Who is someone you look up to in your field? Either today or historically?

I have a strong affinity for the practice of William Kentridge. His ability to explore filmmaking, playwriting, sculpture, puppetry, animation, and performance all through the medium of drawing is incredibly admirable. I hope to one day have an art practice as comprehensive as his.

Why did you choose Cooper Union?

The rigor within the school really caught my eye. Every person that I knew who attended the school was someone whose work, character, and focus I admired and wanted to be

more like. I wanted a program that would challenge me in every way, would deconstruct everything I thought I knew, and build it back up, and I really feel like I found that here.

What is one thing that you learned at Cooper that you didn’t expect?

Learning how to write! I have taken every writing class that Professor Brian Swann offers, and they have all changed my life for the better, especially his personal essay class. I was always hesitant when approaching writing due to my language barrier, but I have discovered a deep love in the practice that transcends my shyness. I have begun writing short plays, which I combine with my painting and sculpture education to make the sets where they will be performed. It has enriched my art practice in many ways that I am thankful for.

What inspires you?

Other artists, writers, filmmakers, etc. Anyone who has the courage and curiosity to open themselves to the mystery of life, and to use that as a tool to create, is someone that I am inspired by and feel proud of.

What are you reading, listening to, or watching?

I just finished A Girl’s Story by Annie Ernaux, and have moved on to her magnum opus, The Years. She is the first French woman to ever win a Noble Prize in Literature and the award is very much deserved. Her works came into my life at the right time, I have always appreciated reading a book and knowing that this is the precise moment for me to read this. It takes true courage and introspection to approach writing about her life in the way that she does; her words have given me the courage to do the same. I also have the collected poems of Cesar Vallejo, Attila Jozsef, and William Carlos Williams in rotation. I have a difficult time just sticking to one book at a time, I need to have multiple constantly in circulation.

I have entered a point in the semester where I have so much going on that my preferred state of being is silence, but I do have moments where I crave listening to music. I usually put on some Nick Cave or Bob Dylan; I have also been loving Joni Mitchell, Tim Buckley, and Big Thief.

The Metrograph theater in LES has been screening multiple stop-motion animation films, and I have been enjoying attending those in the evening after class. I just rewatched Eraserhead by David Lynch on the big screen, which was a surreal experience. I also watched The Wolf House for the first time, and it is one of my favorite things ever made. I may go rewatch it because it was just that good.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully working a job that allows me to travel and connect with people from different backgrounds in ways that are genuine and fulfilling. While I will always have a personal

art practice, I hope to pursue other endeavors that enrich me in different ways. I have become very invested in the possibility of one day being the director of an archive, library, or institution that cares for the protection, distribution, and access of important cultural documents. I will most likely be working in a role related to that, obtaining knowledge that will be helpful to one day know how to run it well.

What are you passionate about? And what do you do in your free time to refresh yourself?

Outside of creative or intellectual endeavors, I enjoy going on extended walks. While I love New York and its walkability, it does not offer meandering routes where you get lost in thought, because the city is designed as a grid, and you constantly have to be on the lookout. Anytime I get a few days off, I take the green line up to Cold Spring and go hiking in the Hudson Highlands. I am taking a month off after I graduate to participate in the St. Andrews pilgrimage across the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye, which has been a dream of mine for a long time.

What project are you working on now?

I am currently in the process of writing the script for a stop-motion animation short film. It follows the journey of a young girl detaching from her mother and transforming into a dog. I hold the story very dear to my heart, as it is autobiographical in many ways. I hope to turn it into a play one day.

Some examples of Adriana's work below:

Nacimiento, Vida, Muerte - Sculpture

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