Danielle H. Friedman ’09 is having a colorful experience

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As artist Danielle H. Friedman ’09 can tell you, the materials at hand can play just as large a role in the creative process as talent does. This fall, Friedman is taking that relationship one step further, and actually getting the chance to create the materials she is then using to create her art.

Friedman is currently working with GAPKA Handmade Oil Colours in Mexico City, where she is learning how to make oil paint. The philosophy of GAPKA is that oil paint should be pure, consisting of only the finest quality pigment and oil, and that the painter can then have a strong and natural base to use and manipulate in whichever manner they prefer.  

“With GAPKA I am doing culture specific color research through the investigation of new pigments that are inspired by my visual experience in Mexico,” Friedman told BrandeisNOW. “One of the main projects I am presently engaged in is developing a series of neon oil paints that have a direct connection to my own palette.”


Friedman is in Mexico on a Mortimer Hays-Brandeis Traveling Fellowship. Each year the program, which provides support to recent college graduates in the visual and fine arts, supplies $19,000 in travel and living expenses to individuals who want to pursue an artistic project or course of study outside the continental United States, Alaska or Hawaii. The fellowships are funded by the Mortimer and Sara Hays Endowment at Brandeis. 


Following her time in Mexico City, Friedman will then travel to Guadalajara where she will live and paint among other young contemporary artists. “There is a distinctive arts culture in Guadalajara that is continually evolving and culturally cohesive,” Friedman said. “I plan to immerse myself in this culture of young artists and become a part of the dynamic and rich art scene.”

Friedman will be in Mexico until July, but she is already benefiting from living and working there. It is a special opportunity to be so directly connected with my material and be able to learn about the oil paint making process in such a hands-on manner,” Friedman said. “Additionally, Mexico City provides an atmosphere that feeds my imagination and intellect. The city is full of creative energy, masses of people, color, music and beautiful food.”

Friedman says she would strongly encourage other Brandeis students to apply to the Mortimer Hays-Brandeis program. “The fellowship is an amazing opportunity for artists to explore their interests and develop their abilities in a different part of the world,” she said. “The generous grant allows for an open and self-propelled journey that can change the way an artist sees, thinks and works. It is an extraordinary opportunity for the Brandeis student who loves adventure, a creative pursuit of knowledge, and the chance to excel in whichever area of the arts she or he is dedicated to.”

The other two Mortimer Hays-Brandeis fellows for 2009 are Hanna Baumann, a 2008 graduate of Columbia University, who is working on a documentary photography project that focuses on the relationship that Israeli and Palestinian farmers have to the land they work, and
Kyle Meyer, a 2009 City College of New York/CUNY graduate, who traveled to Swaziland to photograph and interview factory workers infected with HIV/AIDS.

For more on the Mortimer-Hays Brandeis Fellowship, visit the program’s Web site.
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