Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in both the CFA and Exley? Well, Maya Alicki ’24 has the answers for you. The art aficionado, biology queen, and Middletown native sat down this week to talk to The Argus about her passions both on and off campus.
Argus: Why do you think that you were chosen to be a WesCeleb?
Maya Alicki: I really don’t know. I was so surprised to be chosen. [It] caught me by surprise.
A: Can you tell us about your majors at Wesleyan and why you chose them?
MA: My two majors are biology and art studio with a concentration in architecture. In high school, I really liked science. I was really interested in biology, and I took environmental science, and classes like that really sparked my interest. So I came into Wesleyan thinking I was just going to do biology. But because of the open curriculum (shout out to that), I took more art classes that interested me. During my first semester, I took drawing, and I was like, “This is really fun.” Then I just continued seeking out more art-focused classes: My balance has been three science classes plus one fun studio class or art history class, [so] that I have something to look forward to. Not that I didn’t enjoy my [biology] classes. I just wanted the balance of making something but also having classes that I sit in a lecture and study for. That turned into me taking “Architecture I” [ARST235] and “Architecture II” [ARST336], where we built an A-frame on [Long Lane Farm]. Then I finally applied to be an art studio major and they accepted me, and now here I am working on my thesis.
A: Why did you decide on architecture as your concentration?
MA: I think that it’s very practical. I like working with my hands, and I knew that “Architecture II” builds. They have a “research, design, and build” process that I was really interested in. My dad is a carpenter and we always used to build stuff at the little kids’ Home Depot events. So I had a little bit of experience in that, but also bringing it up to full-scale things, stuff that people can occupy, I think is really cool. And you can still get creative but it’s also technical. There are technical ways of building stuff, so it’s not just willy nilly.
A: How do you see your biology major and your studio major combine? Do you think that one influences the other?
MA: I think they definitely both influence each other. Although my major isn’t environmental science, I think using biology and life sciences to influence design that is human- and nature-centered is really important, especially in our changing world. My original idea for my thesis was something biomimetic [which involves] taking something from nature and using that to influence design. I’m not 100 percent sure if that’s the direction I’m still going in, but definitely something related to some of those things. The use of sustainable materials is also interesting to me. Specifically, what happens after the fact, after things are built, and the longevity.
A: Tell us about the jewelry business that you run.
MA: It’s not really a business; it is more of a hobby. I started making jewelry when I was really little [with] those plastic beads that everybody had. Then, I started making jewelry with my mom. She’d buy little kits and we would do that together. Then, during the pandemic, everyone was bored, and I was just finding stuff to do, and I was like, “This is really fun.” I love beads. And they’re fun—they come in different colors and shapes and materials. I think one of my favorite things to work with are pearls. They come in different shapes and colors. Then, last spring was the Finite Fashion show. I worked with a couple of designers to have my jewelry be shown on the runway, which was really fun. Sometimes I do little sales. I have to figure out if I want to do the Fray one coming up. But seeing people enjoy the stuff I make on campus makes me happy. Sometimes somebody will come up to me and be like, “Oh, you make these rings?” or “You made these earrings? I really love them. My friend has one, where can I find that?” It’s super cute.
A: Where did you come up with the name for your jewelry, Unapologetically Radical?
MA: I’m gonna expose myself, but it was my finsta name. I still have the username. I just couldn’t figure out how to switch them. I don’t want my finsta to be a place where I post jewelry and art. So don’t request to follow me. My other Instagram handle just has zero in it. It just was a name [that] I came up with and I was like, “This is like quirky or whatever.” I was trying to figure out other names [for] my jewelry, but I was like, “I might as well just go with it.” Even though everyone was like, “It’s such a long name. It’s a mouthful,” or whatever.
A: You are showing jewelry in New York Fashion Week. Do you want to talk about that?
MA: Last spring, when I [modeled in] the Finite Fashion show, I worked with the outside designer that came, Cori Burns. And she was like, “I would love to have a Wesleyan designer [display] jewelry, accompanying my pieces.” And I was like, “That sounds really fun, really cool.” We talked a little bit—I was walking for her, so we talked and got close. Then, she messaged me after the fact and was like, “Hey, I’m doing stuff for New York Fashion Week.” It was supposed to be this past one, but then she messaged me in the summer and was like, “We need more time to work on designs.” So it’s gonna be the spring one in February. And she was like, “Here’s my mood board if you still are down to work [with me] even though the day has changed.” She sent me her inspiration. I’ve been working on some pieces, so I’m excited to see it come to life.
A: What’s it like being from Middletown and also going to Wesleyan?
MA: I think it’s really interesting, because a lot of people don’t know much about Middletown or aren’t super involved with it. I knew one of the [organizations] I worked on, before the group kind of dissolved, was WesNEAT (the North End Action Team), so I did want to be involved in community relations. [But] now I’ve kind of involved myself in different ways, through the arts and stuff. I think Wesleyan and Middletown should have a better connection than they do right now. But I don’t know, I like being in my hometown and seeing people from Middletown, but also from different places coming here and experiencing Middletown. And that is really cute and great.
A: How does it feel to be a senior living in a senior house in your hometown?
MA: It’s really really fun and exciting because I obviously like living on campus. So being able to separate my home home with my on-campus home [is cool]. It just makes [me] happy to know that I’ve gone from a dorm to my own house with friends I’ve made.
A: Do you have a favorite memory at Wesleyan?
MA: Honestly, it probably was walking for the Finite Fashion show. I was really hesitant to walk. It was just making me anxious because I’ve never done that before. It was fun.
A: Do you have any advice that you would give your first-year self now that you have all of the knowledge?
MA: I don’t know if I have all the knowledge. I would definitely tell myself to take it easy. I know I was definitely really stressed. But also, when I came in it was COVID and my classes were really hard. Having to log on to Zoom every day [was hard for me]. Also, just explore more classes and do more extracurriculars.
A: Do you have any advice for the people of Wesleyan?
MA: I don’t know, just [follow] your interests. Try to find people on campus who are also interested in the same things as you.
A: As your time at Wesleyan is coming to an end, what do you see post-grad?
MA: I don’t actually know what’s coming next. We will see.
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