Art and music and Aliisa, oh my! A profile of Aliisa Rantanen
EVERYONE KNOWS THE type: someone who has an amazing talent, but who chooses to stay quiet about it. He/she/it doesn't seek to stand in the spotlight, but could easily be there.
Still don't quite understand what I am talking about? Let me present junior Aliisa Rantanen, a living example.
One of the first things people notice is the odd spelling of her first name.
“I love my name, but unfortunately every other girl born within two years of me is named ‘Alyssa,' ‘Alicia,' or some variation,” Aliisa wrote in an English essay on her origins.
“This means that most people end up calling me ‘Alyssa.' ‘Alyssa' is a fine name, but it's not mine. So I added in another ‘i,' hoping that people would say my name like it's supposed to be said, like ‘Aleesa.' This hasn't really worked, but I like the way it looks, and it stuck. Besides, in Finland, that's how it is spelled.”
Her last name, Rantanen (with emphasis on the Ran, please!), also isn't very common. Her family hails from Finland. Rantanen has a dual-citizenship, a fact that she really likes. While she herself cannot speak Finnish, she is able to understand it when it is spoken to her.
“I like it,” Rantanen says about being Finnish. “I don't think about being Finnish or really distinguish myself as Finnish, but it's nice to have that uniqueness.”
Her close family consists of her younger sister, Petra, who goes to Countryside Elementary School, her mother, Ann Marin, and her father, Esa Rantanen. Pets include a variety of fish that live in … well, a fish tank in the living room.
Rantanen was born in Marquette, Mich. Her family then moved to Florida, where they stayed for three years, and then Pennsylvania for five years. They finally moved to Champaign just in time for her to start the third grade at Dr. Howard Elementary School.
When asked which was her favorite out of all the places she has lived, she answers, “Champaign, because I definitely have closer friendships and I like the location, and I like the school.”
In last year's edition of the Unique literary publication, you might have been extremely impressed by the picture on the inside cover depicting a multitude of swirls and figures inside a thought bubble coming from an extraordinarily detailed brain.
Or you might have thought that the concept for last year's “iPlay” shirts for the girls soccer team was pretty cool.
Or perhaps you've noticed the forest green Tolkien Club shirts featuring the ears of the different races of Middle Earth.
Aliisa Rantanen, of course.
“I can't remember when I started drawing,” she says. “I've just always liked it.”
In her spare time, Rantanen enjoys reading magazines such as Vogue and studying the pictures of the clothes. Sometimes she is also inspired to design her own, and draws dresses from different angles. She also prints out pictures of various actors, actresses, and models, and draws them with great attention to detail and shading.
She plans to take her art to the next level and is considering studying either industrial or graphic design in college.
“Aliisa has been a loyal member of Art Club since she was a subbie,” art teacher Lisa Evans says. “She has shown her sketchbook drawings to me (and others) from time to time, and I've been very impressed. She has a wonderful sense of form and value. All of her art shows creativity, maturity and craftsmanship. She's always pleasant to have in Art Club with lots of good ideas.”
But to call Aliisa Rantanen one-dimensional would be a lie. In addition to art, she is an extremely talented musician. She has played piano since she was 3 years old, and currently takes lessons from Uni graduate Pamela Machala's mother, Susan Teicher.
“I really enjoy it,” Rantanen says about playing. “For the most part, it's relaxing. I like to sit at the piano and make music, because it's so different from English, or math. Of course, I don't like to practice, just like most other kids.”
On top of that, she started playing the violin when she was in fourth grade, since it was offered at Dr. Howard. She decided that she would like to play in an orchestra and took private lessons with Eileen Gomez for two years. She has played violin in the Uni orchestra for her entire time here.
“I like playing, she says. “I'm not serious about it, but I enjoy orchestra. I'm happy with where I am, regarding violin.”
In her spare time, Rantanen also enjoys reading, watching movies, baking, swimming (she has been on Uni's swim team since her freshman year), surfing the Internet, and figure skating.
“I took [skating] lessons from when I was 5 until two years ago. I would love to continue, but I don't have the time,” she says regretfully.
She also makes her own desktop layouts and icons when she can't find ones that she likes online.
One of her favorite things to do is to spend time with her friends, whether it involves watching movies, cooking (and making a mess in the kitchen), or just sitting around talking about various parts of their lives.
Aliisa Rantanen is most certainly a girl to get to know. While she may not be the loudest person at Uni, her art and personality speak volumes on their own.
With all of her drawings and designs — in Unique, on school T-shirts, even in this year's prom — Rantanen has definitely made her mark.
— Gargoyle audio slideshow: May 10, 2007, Gargoyle audio slideshow: Aliisa discusses her artwork
ALIISA AT A GLANCE
- Multimedia: Watch and listen to this audio slideshow as Aliisa displays and discusses some of her favorite artwork.
- Favorite color: undecided
- Favorite food: chocolate/pancakes
- Art inspiration: deviantart.com, Vogue, life
- Favorite subject: history
- Favorite word: ennui
- Favorite sport: swimming/figure skating
- Windows vs Macs?: MACS!