Incoming 2019 Pt. One

POSTED ON: August 24, 2019

Orientation kicks off this week. Every year we ask a few of the newest Cooper Union students to give us a bit of background about themselves: where they are from, why they pursue art, architecture or engineering, why they chose to do so at The Cooper Union, and what they were up to during the summer. In part one of the 2019 Incoming edition, meet Kai Jenrette, Elizabeth Sardes, and Kevin Jin. [See part two and part three of this three-part series.]

Kai JenretteKai Jenrette
Baltimore, MD via Atlanta, GA & Salt Lake City, UT

Art has always been a part of my life in many forms and has been a recurring mode of processing information for me for as long as I can remember. Despite this large interest in art, I never really had a substantial art education until later in high school and was eager to be in an environment where I could develop creatively with support. From the moment I stepped into my first critique and got to see a community of folks working together to help each other's visions come together, I knew an art education was something I needed and would thrive in. 

As the college process approached last year, I already had teachers and faculty at my high school recommend studying at Cooper. The tight-knit community of hardworking students with access to all of New York City seemed perfect for me. Cooper offered everything I wanted and more. I saw a place where I would be able to indulge in the tools and resources offered to me to produce the work I wanted to make. Every student seemed independent and braced with a strong sense of self and purpose and I knew it was a place I needed to be to push myself as an artist.

I’m excited to see how I can use every resource to my advantage at Cooper. I have the privilege of being able to pick at the faculty’s brains, grow with other talented students, make work in great facilities, and learn through experience in the city of New York. There are so many opportunities to grow technically and creatively as an artist and person that I'm thrilled about. 

During this past summer, since May, I’ve acted as the resident artist and intern for Press Press, a publishing initiative based out of Baltimore and Los Angeles focused on deepening the understanding of identity. With the opportunity to make whatever work I wanted to with them, I decided to focus on the black community of Baltimore and how growing up in such a city with resilient and hardworking folks impacted me. The work took me a lot of places, but I ended up presenting and creating a 30-page book featuring prose, photographs, and sculpture analyzing everything from Baltimore’s political climate to our odd quirks and slang. I had the opportunity to present the work I did at a gallery opening where sculpture and installation work from the project were on view. It was a great opportunity to hold the community that grounded me in the light and get support from others on work that was completely my own.

Elizabeth SardesElizabeth Sardes
Franklin Square, NY via Queens

At school, I always enjoyed learning science, every facet of it. Each piece gave me a better understanding of us, the universe, and our place within it. As a part of this immensely beautiful planet, I find it to be my duty to help better the lives of those on it and to preserve the life of our celestial home. This led, in part, to my decision to study engineering. My high school physics teacher was also a substantial motivating factor in my choice. She showed me that I could make my way through anything, no matter how impossible it may seem in that moment. With the courage I gained from her guidance and the duty I feel to protect this planet, I am motivated to study engineering. 

My decision to study engineering at Cooper, however, was wholly because of my experiences in their Summer STEM Program. After participating, I truly fell in love with Cooper and everything they stand for. The people I met were genuinely passionate about what they do, and they had the same drive for success that I've always had. I know that Cooper is the right choice for me, and now, knowing that they chose me too is exceptionally fulfilling. 

During my time at The Cooper Union, I'm looking forward to working toward my goals while enjoying the ride. I will most definitely continue my longstanding work with the LGBT community during my stay at The Cooper Union and beyond. To have the ability to meet new likeminded people and to learn from their experiences is something I can't wait to have.

Over the summer, I spent my time traveling and working in a law office. I enjoyed an incredible trip to Southern Italy, where I was able to reconnect with my family and relax a bit. I also was lucky to explore New York State's beauty over in Lake George and Hunter Mountain.  Overall, I've had a fantastic summer, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for me!

Kevin JinKevin Jin
Saratoga, CA via Reno, NV

I have always marveled at The Starry Night atmosphere, the fluidity as illustrated through swirling stars and the warmth as painted within the lights of the rural buildings. With music and math, I’ve learned that the environment lies within the balance of organization and improvisation, whether through the correlation coefficient in statistics or the defined chord progressions in jazz. While improvisation incites ideas, organization evolves such ideas into systems that contribute to a final product, uniting people with natural surroundings, transcending history, and evolving cultures. With architecture, I attempt to grasp a moment’s ephemerality by layering distant dreams and past experiences to enrich the present. Architecture is what instills a sense of anticipation, a north star for the sails of curiosity and ambition to assist in the direction of humanity. 

I chose Cooper because it holds the human condition and tradition as a foundation for architecture, even as the means whereby we conduct ourselves have exponentially progressed through technology and philosophy. Moreover, Cooper’s profound treatment of education as a social act encourages diverse community engagement and tightens relationships across disciplines, especially when immersed in a location as prolific as New York City. 

At Cooper, I’m excited to build a deep portfolio of ideas, pushing boundaries of a collective critical thinking. I aspire not only to discover new ways of integrating architecture, but also to discover how architecture impacts the environment. I look forward to becoming part of a community developing the limitless potential of what architecture and the future can be. 

As for the summer, I spent the first three weeks in China, first traveling to Changchun and later visiting Beijing and Shanghai. After overcoming my jet lag from the flight back, I kindled an interest in data science by binging online courses, taking breaks by hitting the gym and practicing piano. 

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.