Downtown Portland, Maine is not usually considered an ideal place to camp. Loretta Park '11 and her fellow sculpture installation artists at the Portland Art Walk last Friday night, however, seemed to consider it just that.

Their piece, entitled "Salt Water Camp" and presented by the Colman Burke Gallery, consisted of a rickety, worn-in tent propped up by sticks and surrounded by piles of wilting grass, wire chickens, antique salt and pepper shakers, and a rusty, beat-up bike wheel. Enclosed in the window space of Port City Music Hall, the group's first professional show was attracting quite a crowd.

"I wasn't sure how everything was going to come together," Park said, "but I believed in us."

Unbeknownst to the audience, however, this faith was long in coming—Park has not always been a fan of fine art.

"When I first got to Bowdoin, I told myself, the thing I will never major in is visual arts," she said. "There is no future!"

Little did she know that this seemingly fruitless area of study would someday become her academic focus. Initially pre-med and thinking of declaring a biology major, Park soon came to terms with the fact that a medical career was not for her.

"I realized that I really don't like science! Every time I would go to lab I would get a nervous stomachache, and I said, 'This cannot happen!' So I told my parents second semester of sophomore year that I wouldn't be Pre-Med because it was making my life miserable," said Park.

A major in visual arts became appealing when she found herself enjoying what others found taxing.

"Everyone in my Sculpture I class was getting really frustrated with the homework, saying 'Oh, I think I'm going to take this pass/fail,'" explained Park. "I think this class is awesome. It's the only class in which I don't stress out."

Park soon swapped the chemistry books for art supplies and a new academic path began.

The opportunity to participate in "Salt Water Camp" arose one year after Park's science-art switch. While taking Sculpture II with Lecturer in Art John Bisbee, Park recalls the professor's enthusiasm to start an artist-in-residence program.

"He came into class one day and said, 'We're going to make an artists' colony' and we were like, 'Yeah right,'" recalled Park. "Then two weeks later he came in and said, 'I have a place.'"

With a location secured, Park and the 14 other artists, both former Bowdoin students and non-alumni, geared up for a summer in Gouldsboro, Maine where they lived on a farm and created individual work that they then combined into two group projects. Park is the only current student that participated.

"You had to look at the stuff around you, try to make a project and be mindful of what others were doing. It was kind of stressful," said Park.

Park chose to dye small twigs different colors and patterns (a preferred technique) and then use them to represent a campfire in "Salt Water Camp." Her time at the farm also enabled her to watch inspiring artists and gain perspective on her professional future.

"John Bisbee had his studio there, and I have so much respect for him," she said. "To be independent and do what you want and still make a living for yourself— that's what I want to do, too."

For Park, such a goal may not be far away; in addition to "Salt Water Camp," her work will be featured in Friday's Brunswick Art Walk and she is enrolled in a visual arts senior seminar this fall. Her initial art aversion also seems to have transformed into a rewarding passion.

"Art makes me happy," she expressed. "I can see the process and I like building it up. I get to create something that's beautiful."

With such an optimistic attitude, she can be bound only for success.