Darby Jack Gustafson

Art and Art History (BFA) '21

What would you say was the most surprising thing you learned at Columbia? 

It wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it was appreciated in a dire situation. Columbia’s program is set up to allow wiggle room for the students to explore a few different majors before landing on the right one. Personally, I was part of three different majors before I found one that I was comfortable in. 

What experiences or courses at Columbia do you feel have been most beneficial? 

All of my art history classes and studio classes that were heavy on art history topics have really shaped me in a lot of ways—classes such as Dr. Debra Parr’s “Image and Object: Post Punk” and Adam Brooks’ “New Genres” class along with many more. Having a knowledge of art history, specifically contemporary art history, has given me a lot of inspiration for my own work as well as context for where we all lie on the art history timeline.  

What are your plans for after graduation?  

That’s a really great question. I’m not entirely sure. I would love to start my own gallery in the near future. I would also like to finish a large series of drawings that I’m working on at the moment. They have become a lot more time consuming than I had initially anticipated, but that’s ok. I like how they look.  

Do you have any advice for current students?  

You should be friends with people you like and then figure out ways you can combine your forces to make bigger things. Also, support the art and events that your friends and faculty are creating themselves. Looking at your own work for too long can get boring. Looking at your friend’s work never gets old.  

If you were going to sum up your experience at Columbia in one sentence, what would you say?  

I was able to make a lot of bad art.