“It’s hard to predict the shape your professional career may take. The connections and knowledge you gain while in school may be instrumental in your future endeavors.”
Staten Island native Maya Shikhman ’01 was attracted to MMC’s proximity to the City’s major art institutions and to the intimacy afforded by small class sizes. As a Studio Art major and Art History minor, Shikhman has been well served in her professional and personal pursuits by the variety of courses she took in photography, digital art, and history of modern art at MMC.
While birdwatching in southwest Florida, she developed an interest in photographing and documenting the natural world, and that interest quickly expanded from birds to other fauna and flora in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. “I enjoy taking birding trips to chase rare species and hiking in Staten Island parks to experience the growing biodiversity in our local urban environment,” she says.
Shikhman also documents her sightings in online databases, knowing her citizen data will benefit the scientific community. For the past several years, Shikhman has recorded the insect biodiversity on Staten Island and in Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania. Her primary focus on moths and butterflies has led her to attend numerous seminars across New England, and her growing expertise earned her a month-long solo photography show this summer at the Kettle Creek Environmental Education center in Pennsylvania. The show, titled Insects of the Poconos, highlighted the biodiversity of the local entomological world. “I love sharing my appreciation of nature and insects with others, helping people to discover a completely new macro world,” says Shikhman. “I couldn’t think of a better way to combine my photographic and educational interests.”