Sadie Cornette Cook’s artistic growth lands her at Yale
When Sadie Cornette Cook (HS '16) submitted her portfolio to Yale, the interviewer told her that if she interviews 20 candidates and five seem incredible, only one would get a chance at Yale.
Welcome to Yale, Ms. Cook!
So how did this visual arts student beat out other Yale applicants to study photography - a subject not taught at University of North Carolina School of the Arts?
Art is art, no matter the medium. And at UNCSA they certainly teach you art.
Sadie Cornette Cook
“My classes in drawing, design and sculpture made me a far better photographer than I could ever have been otherwise,” Cook says. “Art is art, no matter the medium. And at UNCSA they certainly teach you art.”
To Will Taylor, Director of the Visual Arts program, the idea of the school producing top-notch photographers is not surprising.
“We teach a way of seeing,” Taylor says. “While we don’t teach photography, we teach design and composition. It is everything that is within a frame. What fits in a frame? How does it fit within a frame? How do you establish yourself in there? How do you set a mood or atmosphere?”
From ‘Middling’ to Exceptional
Cook grew up on a farm near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. There, her love for creating and experimenting with different forms of expression was nurtured by her mom, who is an art teacher. She learned about UNCSA’s high school Visual Arts program through her school’s art teacher. (Take a virtual tour of the Visual Arts Program.)
She recalls her interview to be accepted in the Visual Arts program:
“There were 10 other students in the room with their portfolios laid out. I asked my mom how she thought my work compared to everyone else’s. She looked around, paused, then said ‘about middling.’ This was not something I wanted to hear. But I took a deep breath and went on to speak with articulation and a genuine interest in my own and other’s work.”
Taylor recalls Cook’s interview. There was some photography, some drawings, but what stood out was that there was a lot of work to show.
“The quality of the work was not as important as her drive and motivation to articulate her passion,” he says. “She could really speak about ideas. She’s very open to information, she’s very well-read. She was a great communicator and I think all of those things helped. We can teach the technical to those who are driven or have the passion there. Our job is to break things down for them and to enable them with the skill sets they need and with the eye that they need.”
Cook excelled in her art – winning three of the five American Vision Awards in the regional competition and the Best Portfolio award and numerous other awards while studying in the two-year program. She and other students landed 69 awards, including four top awards in the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition in 2016.