The paintbrush swipes against the blank canvas, thousands of vibrant colors exploding from its bristles. As she paints, a whole world unfolds in front of her. A whole journey follows her every move as she slowly adds piece after piece to her puzzle of a painting. Naomi Lief, a senior at Northwestern, has done several interesting and unique things within her four years of college that make her stand out from the rest. From traveling abroad, to things she has made for local businesses, Lief has nearly done it all. She is the painter behind the canvas of her own story at NW.
Lief is a graphic design major with a minor in art. This, of course, exhibits how much she loves all kinds of art. In fact, Lief is not only involved in visual art, as one typically assumes, but she is also involved in choir and orchestra. One of her favorite memories from college thus far has been from choir. “I remember singing in giant cathedrals,” Lief said when explaining the choir’s tour to Denmark in 2022. “I even brought my viola and was able to play that wherever we went too.”
Going to Denmark lit a spark in Lief’s heart to travel. From there, she ended up studying abroad in Florence, Italy. “I experienced so much education, art and culture,” she said. “I even took an advanced figure oil painting class that I learned a lot from.” Lief intends to showcase her skills and travels through her senior art showcase set to take place in April. “I’m planning on making two to three oil paintings inspired by my skills learned in Italy,” she explained. “I want to take what I saw in Italy and represent how they can be found in Northwest Iowa.”
Other than oil painting, Lief described her favorite form of art as being all other types of painting. One of her biggest projects yet has been an art mural she did for a local coffee shop, The Fruited Plain. “That was my first mural at my favorite place where I work as a barista,” explained Lief. “It is the biggest canvas I have ever painted on, and it is still there.” She also did a mural in the basement of one of NW’s buildings, leaving her mark on the campus.
Other than her job as a barista, Lief holds many positions. One of these is her job as a graphic designer for Orange City Arts. She also does freelance work on the side. Her favorite job, however, was an internship she did in London where she “got to work with musicians on making advertisement videos.”
Out of all the things Lief has on her plate, she also enjoys theater and being in Northwest Iowa’s Symphony Youth Orchestra, otherwise known as NISYO. She also expressed her love for ceramics, which she found after taking a class with Professor Van Wyk. “I’ve never done ceramics before,” she said. “It is creative and unique, and there are no stakes to be perfect at it since I’m newer to it.”
As Lief ends her time at NW, she expressed that she is “excited to be here for one more semester, but I am also ready to move on.” She expressed how she is ready for this semester to be her last and to start a new adventure. However, she also explained just how hard it can be to move on from something you love. “Starting last semester was rough,” she said. “But now I am ready.” A new journey awaiting her, no matter where Lief ends up, it can be certain that she will be standing there ready with a paintbrush in hand.