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Grinnell Artists: Bea Herce-Hagiwara


Jessica Kunzman

“Figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B, having a goal of a final product but not knowing how to make it physically appear in the world and the process of getting there is so rewarding.”

For Bea Herce-Hagiwara 18, the “process of getting there” is what shapes her academic career. She is a double major, but the marriage of her disciplines, computer science and studio art, is not an obvious one.

The products of the two subjects are different — code versus art — but in Herce-Hagiwara’s mind, they pose similar challenges.

“I think the reason that both art and computer science feel very comfortable to me is because that’s the way I operate. I’ve always liked puzzles.”

During her first semester, Herce-Hagiwara found that she “really missed taking art classes.” In her second semester, she took intro to studio art. Through that class, Herce-Hagiwara found a new path to explore: sculpture. After completing her first course, she knew this was an experience she would want to repeat each semester. With that, she decided she may as well major in it.

One of Herce-Hagiwara’s primary media is sculpture. Her strongest connection to art comes from “seeing the process behind it.” She references many long nights spent in Bucksbaum, ending rewardingly in a creation. Herce-Hagiwara described her creative process, setting aside time on a task and worrying about nothing but that task, as meditative.

“I think that attempting to make art gives you this whole new way of looking at and appreciating art,” Herce-Hagiwara said. “The how of things coming together and being made, not just the ideas, but the actual ingenuity of the processes is really fascinating to me.”

Her favorite sculpture project was inspired by historical costuming. She created large hoop skirts, welding the metal frame with spikes so that the spikes would pierce through the fabric. Described as, “Mad Max esque,” the sculpture came together as Herce-Hagiwara diligently completed the metalworking and sewing.

“I’m a very methodical thinker when it comes to making things, so that to me is what gets me the most excited for art,” she said.

Along with studio art, Herce-Hagiwara runs a small business centered around knitting and crochet crafts. She calls it a “teeny, tiny business.”

Herce-Hagiwara rediscovered her passion for knitting, a skill she acquired long before she can remember, in her second year at Grinnell.

“With an abundance of yarn and an abundance of free time, I just started making everything.”

To keep her knitting engaging, Herce-Hagiwara began to create her own unique patterns. It occurred to Herce-Hagiwara that her hobby could become a small business, and Procraftinator was born. On her website, Herce-Hagiwara sells patterns and recruits experienced knitters to test new patterns.

Procraftinator hosts some moderate success. Herce-Hagiwara sees it as a way to make some occasional money while finding a way to make her free time real and more active.

For Herce-Hagiwara, her sculptures and her crafts belong in two different categories. Her knitting is not yet art. For it to become art, it needs “something really conceptual behind the knitting” or to be “more structural or sculptural.” She plans to explore these ideas this year.

Her crafts belong more as an extension of computer science. She sees knitting and crochet “as methodical, calculative processes.” She likes to have a final product, whether it’s computer code or craft.

“If you’re thinking about taking an art class, take the intro art course. It is work, but it is rewarding and fascinating.”

She is not the only computer science and studio art double major and encourages other students to consider combining the two. She endorses the upcoming crafts club on campus and plans to participate.

As a fourth year, Herce-Hagiwara is looking for opportunities to pursue her passions after Grinnell. She is applying for software engineering positions, with the hope of transitioning to a job that would use more of her creativity and art skills. Herce-Hagiwara’s ultimate goal is to merge art and computer science in her career.

In the far future, Herce-Hagiwara plans to become an old artist. Ideally, she would be “knitting room sized things,” using arm-sized knitting needles.

Herce-Hagiwara, a double major in studio art and computer science, enjoys working in both knitting and sculpture mediums.
Photos by Helena Gruensteidl

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