Lots of children are doodlers, but Matthew Cintron ’11 was just a little more focused than that.
“I was the only kid who was yelled at in art class for drawing,” recalled Cintron, now a senior Fine Arts major at Rider, of his grammar-school days. “I wouldn’t even listen long enough to hear the teacher’s directions.”
As it turned out, what may have looked like indifference to instruction was actually a strong interest in art for Cintron, who will receive his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Rider’s Undergraduate Commencement on Friday, May 13.
Before enrolling at Rider, Cintron tightened his craft at the Princeton Science Academy under the tutelage of Paul Mordetsky, who, he says, “got me working in ways I hadn’t thought of before.” Cintron recalled that his own parents realized his talent, but the influence of Mordetsky, an accomplished painter in his own right, was vital to his development.
“With his classes, I got to a fine-arts level of technique,” Cintron said.
When it was time to choose a Fine Arts program, the West Windsor, N.J., resident didn’t need to cast his view too far. He was attracted to Rider, not only for the strength of its art program, but for the geographic advantages to be had, too.
“I wanted to stay close to home, because I liked the program, but I also wanted to keep my job teaching martial arts,” he said.
On Rider’s Lawrenceville campus, Cintron developed under the tutelage of professors like Deborah Rosenthal, who recently sponsored his Senior Honors Thesis Exhibition in the Rider University Art Gallery.
“He’s worked hard, and he’s an extraordinary Rider student,” said Rosenthal, who has taught in the Fine Arts department since 1989. “He’s the only senior who’s done Senior Honors Thesis this year, and I’m very proud of the work he’s done. He is a real product of our Art Studio program.”
Cintron said that the works in the April exhibit, a collection of 33 charcoal sketches, oil paintings and ink illustrations, traced his artistic growth through his drawing, such as the progression of his plane and lines, to his painting.
Though he is clearly grateful for his studio experiences, Cintron was also moved by a study tour trip he took to China during spring break this year, not only for the rare international experience it provided, but for the challenges it posed to him as an artist. Student on the trip were asked to compile a sketch journal, and while many of them shot photos they later used as the basis for their sketches, Cintron did his the old fashioned way – not that he had a choice.
“My camera wasn’t working right, so I couldn’t take the same amount of pictures, but I still felt compelled to do as many sketches as possible,” he said, mentioning subjects such as Tiananmen Square, The Great Wall and the Forbidden City. “I really wanted to capture everything, and I was working from the landmarks as I saw them. They shot a lot, but I got some great sketches.”
The malfunctioning camera also forced Cintron to draw more instinctively and efficiently, he says.
“It was great to work from life. It’s ideal, but I don’t do it as much as I’d like,” he explained. “It also forced me to work quickly. I faced indecisions, because when your group is moving from place to place, you have to figure out how to get your necessary lines down. But I was able to figure out just what was essential.”
Nearly 20 of Cintron’s China sketches were later exhibited in the Bart Luedeke Center, on the walls outside the Cavalla Room, this spring. Months after his return, he remains awed by what he saw, whether it was channeled it through charcoal or not.
“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “It’s incredible how much can be packed into one week. It felt like a whole semester. You can see three world famous landmarks in a single day.”
Cintron, who would like to pursue illustration in graduate school, can appreciate the value of experiencing as much as possible. He is taking a similar approach to his career, building his base of knowledge by taking a class in 3D animation – “It’s scary, but challenging, and I think it’s very useful to learn more about it now” – and would like to try his hand at game design and development. He’s also got a keen interest in developing graphic novels.
“As an artist, it’s important to see things from as many ways as possible,” he said.