The Power of Make Muse and Following Your Passions

Kathryn Hornyak is a Junior at Fordham University, originally from Pittsburgh, PA, that combines her passions for art, writing, and feminism as the Print Editor for Make Muse- an online and print magazine that highlights the musings of young women, non-binary, and femme individuals on just about every subject you can imagine. Kathryn and I ranted about our shared love of Pittsburgh, how to impact youth through the arts, and how it’s ok to not have it all figured out in college.

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We both love Pittsburgh, what is it about home that you love?

Anyone can tell you that I am obsessed with Pittsburgh. I’m not a sports fan, but we have an amazing arts scene and so much good food. Besides it’s beautiful. It’s a very cinematic place.

Where are you living now and what are you studying?

I moved to New York City for college. I go to Fordham University at Lincoln Center. It’s a  surreal thing to be able to walk across campus and be next to the New York City Ballet. I’m studying New media and Digital Design, which is a very interdisciplinary major. We do marketing, computer science, graphic design, video work, journalism…a little bit of everything!

I just recently decided to declare a double major in Art History. After I studied Art History abroad in Italy the summer between freshman and sophomore year, I knew I wanted to work in museums in some capacity. Right now, I’m most interested in combining new media and museum education to help make difficult or obscure topics relevant to people’s lives. I want to change attitudes about art and who its for. I think combining technology and research can be super fruitful way to accomplish that.

Make Muse is such a cool space for women in such a smart format. What was the idea behind making it?

Make Muse is an online and (now!) print magazine for young women who care about the world, are worried about their futures, and want to have fun in the midst of global chaos, too. My friend Maura Sheedy started it as an extension of Makeupless Maura, a project where she documented spending a year without makeup on Instagram. Make Muse has grown to include writing, poetry, photography, interviews– really just about everything. Something I’m really proud of is that Make Muse has become a safe space to write about tough, uncomfortable subjects. We run a lot of personal essays that get brutally honest about sexuality or mental health or family in a way that I don’t see in other places. We also do a weekly newsletter of headlines that specifically impact women.

That is amazing. What is your involvement with Make Muse and how did that happen?

I am the Print Editor for Make Muse. I actually went to highschool with Marura, the founder. We were never super close, we ran in completely different circles. But our senior year our lives started crossing paths. We bonded over our love for publications, and would talk for hours about the direction that things were heading for media aimed at young women. We ended up going to the same college, just at different campuses (she’s at Fordham at Rose Hill in the Bronx and I’m at Fordham Lincoln Center in Manhattan). We met up over the summer in Pittsburgh and she told me about the plans to publish. She asked me to be the lead editor on the print magazine, and here we are!

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My job is to help develop and refine all of the original content that goes into the print magazine. I always loved writing, but had never worked on anything that was going to be seen by the public. It was very hectic and very exciting. We had ten original essays lined up for the first issue and I set up phones interviews with each of our writers to see what direction they wanted to take things and talk through any issues. I truly believe talking out loud fixes most problems. It was extremely rewarding to watch the pieces evolve into the final versions you’ll see in the magazine. There was a palpable energy over the summer. We were having this moment of realization that we don’t have to wait for someone above us to give us permission to do something like publish a magazine, we can do this right now for ourselves.

This was the first summer that I had an internship and worked on a startup. I’m not one of those people who started interning in high school, nor do I have a job lined up for after college, and I want people my age or younger reading this to know that that’s ok. There’s a time for everything. I’m spending the summer in the city for the first time this year and applying to more internships, so I’m just excited to see what unfolds.

Let’s talk passion and hobbies. Why museums?

My passion for museums began when I was a little girl and my grandmother would take me to the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. I distinctly remember going to the Carnegie International (a huge contemporary art show that takes place every two or three years) when I was maybe 9 or 10, and being genuinely afraid of the artwork.The galleries were cavernous and echoing with sound from the video pieces. There were some pretty scary images and 10-year-old me was both terrified and fascinated. I was really fortunate that my grandmother and mother valued the arts because as a result of being around those spaces so often, I began to get really curious about it. I wanted to learn more about art in order to make it seem more human for myself.

This past summer, I became an Education Intern at the Mattress Factory Museum in Pittsburgh. The Mattress Factory is a magical place. It’s all installation art, which means the pieces take up a whole room or sometimes a whole building. I was helping out with the Teen Summer Art Cooperative, which is a program I was involved in as a teenager. Over the course of one month, the teens get to meet with local artists and talk to them about how they started and maintained their careers.

I remember someone telling us that when people ask you what you do, you never have to tell them what makes you money, you can tell them what your passions are. You don’t have to say you’re a barista, you can say you design comic books. That changed things for me.

Being in the program and interning for it taught me that when you give teenagers time, attention, and resources, they flourish. Having adults take my ideas seriously at that age was life changing. That program showed me the impact that arts education can have on teens- it gives them the vocabulary and the confidence and to talk about the things that inspire them, whether or not they go on to become artists.

With your love for art, what power do you think art holds?

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There are two sides to this coin. The first is the moment of recognition; seeing yourself represented in something someone else created. That doesn’t have to be a painting, it could be a book or movie or a song. Having the feeling that someone who lived long before me or who comes from a completely different background feels the same way I do is very impactful. Second, are the times when a piece of art completely and utterly pulls you out of your reality and you gain a new perspective. Both are valuable, powerful experiences.

Alright Kathryn, you knew this question was coming, what does it mean for you to be powerful?

I have two answers to this question. The first is knowing yourself, and knowing yourself really well. Getting really familiar with how you react to difficult situations, your strengths and weaknesses, and knowing your limits. Knowing what you can say yes to and what you have to say no to. This is something that I’m working on all the time.

The second is that I draw so much power from surrounding myself with people that I do not have to self-edit around. I have my mother, my sister, and my two aunts who are basically second and third mothers to me. I consider them to be my best friends. Then I have my friends from school who will listen to me go off about something interesting I learned that day or let me cry and not make a fuss about it. It’s not even necessarily the most successful people in my life that empower me, it’s the people I can sit in comfortable silence with. The freedom to be your unedited self, to speak your mind and have it matter to somebody, is a huge source of power.

Make Muse:

Kathryn’s instagram: @kathryn.hornyak


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