Student Feature: “Architecture for everyone”
Courtney Klee is a sophomore studying architecture at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning who has a passion for visual arts and designing architecture that is inclusive of all abilities. She spoke to with Rabab Jafri, U-M Arts & Culture intern, about where she gets her inspiration from and what drives her to keep creating, inside and outside the classroom.
RJ: What inspires you to create art?
Klee: Growing up I’ve always been an artist. Ever since I was two and three my parents would put out boxes or egg cartons to throw away and I would take them and make sculptures and use them for whatever I wanted to. They had to start hiding them all because I kept doing that… and I’ve always been concerned about how my creativity could benefit the world and do something greater than just creating sculptures or paintings.
RJ: Was there a specific experience that made you know that you wanted to study architecture?
Klee: In high school while I was making art I was also volunteering at a therapeutic equestrian center; I helped disabled kids learn how to ride horses. There was a mom there who found out that I was very into design and so she asked me to make a wheelchair cover for her daughter’s wheelchair because her head would rub against it and it was rubbing off her hair. And so after I made those head covers I knew that I wanted to do some kind of design. That’s when I strayed away from fine art—while I still love painting and have an appreciation for art history, I gravitated towards architecture because I wanted some way to better peoples’ lives through design.
RJ: In your opinion, how can architecture “better peoples’” lives through design”?
Klee: I have a fascination with how people move throughout buildings and how they respond to spaces. And so I wanted to help create positive experiences for people and make their days easier by designing spaces. And within architecture I’m really interested in inclusive design. I’m interested in having a mindset when I design that buildings are not just for able-bodied people, but for people of all physical capabilities and mental capabilities.
RJ: You said that you still like to paint. Is this something that you do in addition to your architecture studies, or separately?
Klee: I find that even though I’m studying architecture it’s really connected to art and the art that I make because art has always been a part of me—I can never separate it the two. I feel that when I’m painting I feel like I’m really connected to how the line is used, which is really connected to the designs I make in architecture. It’s really helped me understand how people respond to different designs and different effects within their artwork.
RJ: What have you been working on recently?
Klee: I decided to do a 100 day challenge on Instagram because I found myself becoming really hypercritical of the work I was making—I stopped painting because I usually like painting things that take a couple of months and have depth and thought into it. But I decided to create to keep me happy and keep that creative side going while I was doing drafting work, which got kind of repetitive. But I found I got an overwhelmingly positive response from friends who follow me and after day 70 I stopped posting as frequently because I decided to do Artist’s Bazaar in Detroit and try to sell my work. And so that 100 day challenge lead me to find a different painting style and learn a different way to express my voice through painting.”