NYU Abu Dhabi Teaches the Art of Relationship-Building

A strong bond with her adviser gave this NYU Abu Dhabi art student the confidence to pursue her passion

NYU Abu Dhabi professor John Farrow and student Am Silruk in their respective workplaces

 

NYU’s international diversity affords you the opportunity to build meaningful, lifelong relationships with people from every corner of the world. While this might make you think of the classmates and peers you’ll meet, the bonds you form with professors and advisers can be just as impactful. Am Silruk, a rising junior at NYU Abu Dhabi who is double-majoring in Art and Art History and Film and New Media, has experienced this impact firsthand. She connected with her adviser, Jonny Farrow, a visual arts and interactive media professor, before she arrived at NYU Abu Dhabi. In the two-plus years since, they have built a strong bond based on mutual respect and honesty. Even though Am has never had a class with Professor Farrow, she can’t think of anyone she’d rather go to for support, guidance, and some good old-fashioned conversation.

AM: I feel lucky that I have you as an adviser. We are all from so many different places around the world, so it’s not just students who have to be open-minded. Professors do as well. I feel like you get the fact that we’re all social animals who are learning from each other.

PROFESSOR FARROW: I do, and I love it. It’s so exciting to hear from incoming students because I never know whom I’m going to meet. They’re these young people who are hungry to learn and so excited. Welcoming them to NYU Abu Dhabi and helping them address the concerns they might have coming in is very rewarding.

AM: It meant a lot to have you guide me through my first steps coming into college. I remember learning online that you’re a sculptor like me and that you also teach sound art. I thought you seemed like such a cool professor. Now I feel even luckier because we don’t just talk about classes but about life and the world.

PROFESSOR FARROW: I’m certainly not going to solve everyone’s problems, but I try to make sure students know they can talk to me about anything. Every student needs someone at the University whom they feel they can go to for guidance and who will help them move the right way and get to the right place. Most of our exchanges have been me pepping you up. That’s why I’m here, and I love doing it.

NYU Abu Dhabi professor John Farrow speaking with a group of students.

PROFESSOR FARROW: I always try to be honest with my students about their work. My goal is to help them think through what they’re doing in an earnest way.

AM: We’ve had some really powerful conversations about my art that still influence me every day. Those talks, combined with the chance NYU Abu Dhabi has given me to learn about art through politics and history, have changed my perspective and approach to art. I realize that I’m not just making art for myself. I have the privilege of being in a position to talk for others who can’t speak for themselves, and I feel like I’m obliged to take advantage of that.

PROFESSOR FARROW: I’m so happy to hear you’ve had that experience. I remember that it took me a while to start seeing across classes and putting together a bigger picture of how the world is when I was an undergrad. I know you and I have talked about picking classes that interest you, because following those interests and letting them feed into what you eventually want to do is such a satisfying process.

AM: Especially as an art student. It’s so important for me to learn about the topics I’m interested in and to throw myself out there to explore and experiment. The full-time studio access we have at NYU Abu Dhabi has allowed me to do that. I’m not the type of person who can follow instructions all the time. (laughs)

PROFESSOR FARROW: (laughs) Spoken like a true artist.

AM: If I was forced to make art about one thing and one thing only, I would get so frustrated. I love how much freedom I have here to do what I’m passionate about.