Kiana Lom '21
BA Studio Art
Minor in Creative Writing
Where are you originally from?
I was raised in Costa Rica but born on Long Island. I moved back to the U.S. as an adult.
Why Stony Brook?
My EOP counselor at Suffolk Community College was an alumna in social work. She made it her mission to have me become a Stony Brook student. Later that semester, I was honored with a Lifetime Learning Scholarship from the Suffolk Community College Foundation. The head of the department there, Mrs. Diaz, graduated with a PhD and was also an alumna. She had nothing but wonderful things to say about the education, and also spoke about the value I would be getting for the cost. Later that week, I went to a donor event at Peconic Landing. One of the donors I sat with during the dinner was also an alumna. And again, I had somebody of importance speaking highly of her education, her time here, and the possibilities for my future should I choose to become a part of the school. At the time, I was impressed by how many outstanding, accomplished women in my life had come to Stony Brook for a quality education. Meeting three in a short period felt like fate, it was a sign that this was meant for me too. I also thought about how strong the alumni network must be if all feel this level of loyalty to the school and I was inspired to be one of them too.
On her major:
I was a Multidisciplinary major with concentrations in Studio Art, Creative Writing and Psychology. I was interested in being an author-illustrator, but also because of my son’s developmental delays (he has since overcome them), I was interested in the power of art therapy and on how to use it to heal and/or treat children such as my son. After a couple of semesters, I applied for a URECA Summer Research grant to fund a project that consisted of illustrating the chapter plates of a story I had outlined and was writing. The Department of Art gave me a lot of support, and soon after, I was honored with this prestigious and very competitive award. After receiving strong mentorship from the head of the undergrad department and creating a strong body of work, I really felt I belonged in the Department of Art and switched my major to Studio Art with a Creative Writing Minor.
Lithography with Lorena Salcedo-Watson. This course is challenging both in getting a knack for the technique and on the physicality and strength you develop as a result of operating the press and grinding the stones. Lithography is a niche artform with a unique aesthetic in the printing world, but even more so than that, I found myself developing skills not in the syllabus as a result of taking this course. I developed perseverance, stamina, an art-work ethic, just to name a few. This course prepares you to think of yourself as a professional artist and to develop your voice.
Interests and accomplishments:
As an artist, I have been deeply interested in culture, society and travel. Most of my short stories deal with the little idiosyncrasies of different people from different places, and on how we can all still find a common place to relate to one another. Bringing worldly concepts and narrowing them down somehow allows us to be more universal. This concept of universality creates a sense of respect and equality.
My biggest accomplishment perhaps has been the gift of knowledge. Due to financial hardship, I was once homeless and a truant as a teenager. I nurtured myself with reading books and creating art during this period rather than doing other less productive vices. Growing up with a lack of resources makes you very insecure about yourself and your abilities. I realized that I was capable of more and I was thirsty for the tools that would allow me to reach my highest potential and thankfully I now have those tools. College has forever transformed me from being a benighted individual to being the person I always aspired to be.
Awards & Accolades:
My accomplishments have been many as the result of opportunities available. I have been a finalist in a SUNY-wide art competition called SUNY Performing Arts, Creation and Curation (PACC), the recipient for a URECA summer grant, I have been included in the best of SUNY Art Exhibition, I have won the distinction of the Sunwood Art competition two years in a row. My work has started to be exhibited locally at the Gallery North in their recent exhibition, “Home Far and Near,” and I have been the recipient of many scholarships. The most recent one is the Drs. Connie and Lee Koppelman Endowed Fund for Scholarships on this last Giving Day event.
Plans for post-graduation and career aspirations:
I plan on taking a gap year and then applying to an MFA program. During this year I want to concentrate on creating a strong body of work, getting my artist website going, applying for art grants and contests, and making more submissions to magazines and journals to establish a name for myself in the field. I am looking forward to working on my art and creating my stories. My ultimate goal is one of two or both, to be an author-illustrator and/or a visual artist.
Advice for future Seawolves?
I would say come prepared to study hard, develop serious research skills, take advantage of (make time for) every opportunity and the network of colleagues and professional contacts you will make will help elevate you toward your career of choice. Every department has well known names both of faculty and of students that go to conferences, events, symposiums and contests. The more involved you become in these in your field you will come to know everybody, and your reputation will precede you. I have met many students who get hired by major companies like Google, Amazon, Mayo Clinic, etc., because the human resources person asks for other like-minded student referrals, or they go and source talent at these events.