Thursday, May 9, 2013

From the Streets to a Canvas: An Alum Talks about the Origins of His Art

Seth Apter (GSAS '85) came to the city in 1983, and it changed his life. In this guest blog post, Seth tells us about how his time at NYU almost three decades ago still influences his art today.

Growing up in Connecticut, I spent many weekends visiting New York City with my family. And I grew to love the city - enough so that I knew I wanted to live there someday. But these early visits paled in comparison to the life altering experiences that began to unfold when that day actually arrived.

It was in 1983 that I moved to NYC to attend NYU. I had entered a Master’s program in Psychology through the Graduate School of Arts and Science. As thrilled as I was to further my education and get one step closer to a career as a Psychologist, I was even more excited to have finally made it to New York.

The entire city, including the Village, was very different back in the early 80s than at present. It was much more gritty and much less Disney. The city was filled with crime, drugs, abandoned buildings, graffiti, and neighborhoods that you wouldn’t go to in the day – let alone after dark. But there was also a feeling of endless possibilities, a sense of unfolding creativity, and an openness to exploration that filled the air.

In my time at NYU, my focus was split between studying and playing. I spent a lot of time exploring all that the city had to offer. And I didn’t know it then, but I was absorbing and storing all the creativity that surrounded me. After I got my Master’s degree from NYU in 1985, I continued my studies at CUNY and received my PhD in Psychology. It is now almost exactly 30 years later and I am currently a Psychologist in my own private practice.

But all that creative energy that I had experienced after moving to NYC was also pushing forth and demanding to be acknowledged. After dabbling in a variety of artistic endeavors, I took up the visual arts in 2000. What started off as a hobby has now become a career. I am an exhibited and published artist, art workshop instructor, and author of the book “The Pulse of Mixed Media: Secrets and Passions of 100 Artists Revealed”, with a second book due to be released in January 2014.

While there are many different inspirations for my artwork, I believe that there is a direct connection to life in NYC circa the early 1980s. I am a mixed media artist and incorporate found objects that I pick up from the streets of the city in much of my work. There is often a distressed element to the surface of my art and I try to bring in a sense of history to what I create. I truly believe that it was my experiences in NYC while a student at NYU that set the tone for the choices I have made in art, and in life, ever since.

You can learn more about Seth and his artwork at

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