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Alumni Spotlight: Christopher Paul

A Q&A with McGovern College of the Arts Alum, Christopher Paul.

Q: What was the year and degree you received from the University of Houston’s McGovern College of the Arts? 

A: The degree I was working towards was a Bachelor of Arts with a focus in sculpture in the School of Art.  

Q: Where has your [arts] career taken you since you entered the McGovern College? 

A: Since completing my sophomore year at UH, I have been accepted into the Foundation Art and Design Diploma at University of Arts London, Central Saint Martins campus in London, England. I am currently looking for sponsors to aid and support this part of my educational journey. 

Q: Is there one thing that has surprised you about a career in the arts that you didn’t expect? 

A: There are too many surprises to narrow it down to just one, but I’d say the top two things that surprised me the most about my career is getting an offer from Central Saint Martins. It’s been my dream since I was in high school to attend this university given its magnitude. And with alumni like Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, Hussien Chalayan, and even actor Tom Hardy, I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the 138 international and UK students out of over 40,000  + global applicants to be selected to grace its halls as some of the creative industries top game changers and leaders. But more than anything, it is a testament to my talent  and that has given me the upmost confidence given the hectic and uncertain atmosphere of the pandemic.  Secondly, and lastly, the most challenging surprise is the cost to attend this highly competitive school for the arts. Because this is an international school there are zero scholarships or grants available to fund my attendance, so I’ve resorted to finding alternative methods, such as starting a GoFundMe and seeking a sponsorship(s) to secure my place in the course.   

Q: What accomplishments in your career do you feel most proud of? 

A:  I’d have to say one of my biggest accomplishments other than getting into this school, would be the level of consciousness I’ve acquired in regard to my African American cultural identity and how it plays a crucial role within my creative work.  

I used to be ashamed to be Black. This is not one singular feeling, but a sentiment en mass, which has permeated throughout the Black American community. These truths are ones that I dissect in my own work so I can understand the root and relationship Black people have with these feelings.  

It has been an uncomfortable journey and the professors I’ve studied with in the School of Art over the past year have been exceptionally sensitive and receptive to it, which has given me the time and courage I needed to prepare to delve into my subject matter mentally and emotionally. This has led me to create seminal pieces that were included in the portfolio I submitted to Central Saint Martins.  

Q: Are there specific skills or things you learned at the McGovern College of the Arts that you find valuable in your career now? What are they? 

A:  Skill set wise, I’d say I have an even stronger understanding of attacking form and structure when dealing with 3D Mediums of any variety. And since I apply these mediums to the body either as singular and standalone objects that the body interacts with as wearables or as literal additive wearable forms, there is a good amount of planning of how materials will attach or interact with the body. So, I’d say planning and studying mediums thoroughly is a big skill set that I’m appreciative to have been able to fully articulate at UH. The instructors I had, like Tiffany Angel and Angel Oloshove, have pushed me to find unconventional ways to experiment when working in this way.  

Q: Has there been any press coverage that you would like to share? If so, list links in your answer with any helpful descriptions. 

A: This is the first press coverage I’ve received, but in addition to this article there will be another article coming out by the University of the Arts London that you can look for on my press tab on my website and Instagram @ChristopherPaulStudio   

Q: What is coming up for you in the future that we should watch for? 

A: What you can expect from me in the future that you should watch for is a fashion collection toward the end of May that you can find on my website and social media platforms. For the project I plan on working with the African American community here in Houston to highlight the artisanal skill set of the Black community and give representation to Houston as a whole. When my placement at Central Saint Martins is secured, the collection will be showcased in an online graduate exhibition and, if Covid regulations are relaxed, it will be exhibited at the Lethaby Gallery in London. 

Q: What advice would you have for incoming students who are focusing on a career in the arts? 

A:  My advice for incoming students who are focusing on a career in the arts would be to: 

  1. Never say “I wonder”—it’s sprinkled with doubt. Always Act! 
  2. Focus on the process, not the outcome. The outcome can always be changed, but your process is always the most exciting. 
  3. Always collaborate with other students on other courses if time permits you outside of class.
  4. Always push yourself to be uncomfortable with a project. If you aren’t feeling uncomfortable you aren’t challenging yourselftherefore you are not growing as an artist.  

Quote: The Katherine McGovern School of the Arts has given me the tools to explore myself introspectively, holistically, and omnisciently as a young Black artist/designer. What I’ll remember most were the interactions I had day-to-day with my professors, which were about more than just simple curriculum. They taught me more than just joining pieces of found objects together.  They taught me to find connections, explore, and discover new ways of creative and philosophical trajectories in my own practice through their own artistic process.