Capturing the Overlooked
For my Advanced Arts Project, I worked with photography and collage because I am interested in capturing moments that are overlooked by the naked eye, and creating connections between different images to express one idea. These pieces do not make up one series, but I believe that together they show my versatility as an artist, as well as my ability to convey a distinct idea. I experimented with color and lighting to evoke fear and uncertainty, as well as concepts such as intimacy and sensuality, which can be seen in the pieces “Loose Ends” and “Purity.” Using the technique of combining several images in some of my pieces allowed me to explore the use of connectivity and manipulation in order to communicate a message that would not have been apparent on their own. For example, in the piece “Is This Really How It Ends,” I connected the light fixtures in two separate images taken in a New York subway station to show the monotony that can dominate our lives when we perpetuate specific routines.
Although my art is based on my personal experiences and beliefs, it encourages the viewers to reflect upon themselves and engage in their own journey of self-exploration. I believe that in order for a piece of art to be successful, it must spawn curiosity and conversation, whether it be out of agreement or discord. For example, in my piece “Statute of Liberty,” I critique the American prison system by obscuring the Statue of Liberty with clouds representative of Rikers Island; this topic is one that is known to cause controversy within our society and some people may find my stance unsettling. In my piece “Purity,” I explore the theme of teenage sexuality, a topic that is traditionally considered as taboo. My goal is not to create art that is merely pleasing to the eye, but art that has the potential to make people feel uncomfortable, initiating discussion and change.
Throughout this year, I noticed myself becoming less hesitant in creating, allowing myself to just make pieces without overthinking. I started to focus more on the process rather than the result, which allowed me to enjoy my artmaking more. I was also surprised by my ability to quickly develop skills in mediums that I have never used before. That being said, I consider my last Advanced Arts Project at Emma Willard to be a success.
Mellody C. '20
The Collective Human Experience
Living in a swirl overwhelmed with information competing for attention, I find the art-making process a way to slow myself down and to train myself to pay attention to details, objects, and stories that I would otherwise be oblivious to. In making art, I see, observe, think, process, select and reconstruct ideas for further communication. I believe these experiences have liberated me from following trends and fashion and allowed me to think for myself and find my own voice.
In creating artwork, I found myself inspired by the local and global contemporary and historical events. I created multiple series of work illustrating the dangers and frustration we expose ourselves to, collectively as a human race. Discussions on environmental issues, the Syrian War, universal anxiety, and many other events that concern us are all sources of inspiration for me. Yet to be an artist is to be someone who is encouraged and expected to think outside of the box, and to bear the responsibility to be the exception to the rules, and to be thought-provoking; I find power in art to make meaning of this sadness and frustration and to create impact through expressing ideas and emotions.
Driven by the contrast between the grandiosity of historical moments and the mundaneness of everyday life, I often choose materials that allow unpredictability in creating my work. Compared to traditional art media, I am more interested in using materials that are not typically made for art practice. I believe any object has the potential of becoming an art piece, whether it’s newspaper, rubbing alcohol, or plastic bottles. I like to see how the material performs when I purposefully let things get out of my control. I see my process of art making as my collaboration with the materials, allowing the materials to perform according to their characteristics. I allow the piece to speak to me and suggest changes as I make my work. Each piece, at its unfinished stage, might inspire me to change my vision of the finished piece, and that is how we carry out the process. I like to strive for control, yet at the same time allow accidents and unpredictable fortune to induce both fear and excitement. This process, I believe, mirrors the unpredictable development of human history, characterized by randomness, chaos, and fatuity.
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Evelyn C. '20
Messy and Imperfect Life
Everything influences my art in some way, yet I find my intuition responsible for major influence in some of my best work. Other times, personal emotion, trauma, or memory slowly facilitates work that expresses a suspended feeling, or a societal view. I’ve studied the face, my personal relationships, my relationship with myself, and mundane aspects of life that seem to touch upon the deeper mystery of living. I let the moment control where the piece goes, and then I use the product to understand where I was when I felt compelled to create it, yielding an explanation. I’ve had to overcome and accept various challenges this year, and my work has been a beautiful remark, reflection, and physical epitome of my resilience in my passions and in myself.
This year I have created a dynamic group of digital images, darkroom prints, paintings, drawings, videos, and mixed-media work--a body of work expressing the theme that life is at once messy and imperfect, but wordlessly beautiful, and in contrast, the imperfections of life can be inexplicably symmetrical. After creating many prints, I realized the larger theme I was subconsciously developing: my work successfully depicts the divides life presents to us, and within those divides how we must connect in different ways. Division is conceptualized, in the nature of two fronts or objects just missing each other, struggling to connect harmoniously. There is often the possibility in life of those events which “could have been.” In my creation of mundane prints with unique perspectives, I have commented on the mystery of the world and these emotional choices we must make. Throughout this exploration of the divide I have been able to come to terms with identities of mine that propose challenges and inner turmoil, identities that generate inner division--but I’ve learned division implements connection.
My work this year has helped me understand that art embodies my tangible and intangible values and dreams. My art is a coping mechanism, a social commentary, the epitome of my emotions, and a place where I can let the oceans of my soul comfortably reside. This year I finally have come to understand what it means to me to create, and I look forward to growing more with this identity. My resilience resides in my work, and my work in turn gives me wonderful, powerful, other-worldly strength.
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Lisa L. '21
I am used to leaning back and raising my chin to the discovery of trees, totem poles, and skyscrapers. Growing up in Vancouver, Sarajevo, and Beijing planted in me the seed of curiosity for human beings’ relationship with nature. Distinctly different, the three cities were fine examples of juxtapositions of nature and the “man-made.” The boundary was unclear, if not, nonexistent. The aquarium which I frequented in Vancouver sat in the verdant ocean of a forest. My family’s apartment stood on the only flat surface in Sarajevo, surrounded by endless slopes. Willows, nestling at the feet of Pekinese edifices swayed to the rhythm of majestic ripples encircling the Forbidden City.
My works appeal to the senses. Assuming the role of a visionary journalist, I document, report, and comment on the human experience of reality in the contemporary world in a universal language that is understood before and beyond words. Dr. Leonard Shlain writes in his book Art & Physics, “Observe any infant as it masters its environment. Long before speech occurs, a baby develops an association between the image of a bottle and a feeling of satisfaction… As soon as the baby connects the bottle’s image with the word ‘bottle,’ this word begins to blot out the image… the words eventually supplant the image.”
We were born with the faculties of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. These senses, however, become attenuated by our increasing distance from the wild. I am interested in exploring the potential of the remaining senses that aid our navigation in the contemporary world.
July 28th, 2019, Beijing, at around 9:00 pm, crowds and traffic poured out from dry interiors, recovering from the recent storm. Meanwhile, I was standing in a puddle, listening to ocean waves. Struck by the marine quality of sounds that automobiles made while racing down a rain-drenched street, I made my recording — the foundation of my installation, Audiovisual Illusions.
I inferred from the furrowed brows of those around me, tiptoeing between tree carcasses and making wind in the dark, that my discovery was singular, lonely and wondered if I could invite more people into this experience. The artist Katharina Grosse says it well: I want to show that it is always possible — not only for me, but for everyone — to also view and experience reality differently. Not only there where I show it. Everywhere. Always. Here. Now.
To guide my audience to the discovery of the illusion on their own, not at the expense of losing its subtlety, I decided to replace the convincing image of the street with a seascape — I translated the sound of bicycle wheels brushing lightly against a puddle as pale tides of soft textured paint; meanwhile, I rendered the roar of a motorcycle with a darker, fiercer shade. At last, there were three paintings, and a sound piece that played on the opposite wall.
The idea behind Audiovisual Illusions is to dismantle the rigid association between sight and sound, replacing it with an innovative, creative relationship. This work challenges the comfort of monotonous urban life by pairing imagery and sound from drastically different contexts. The audience explores obscurity, possibilities, and mysteries derived from the audiovisual combination that the brain does not immediately recognize. This leads the viewer to unexpected places.
Journalism’s attention for current events holds true for my own practice. My photography series called “Sets,” which includes Continental Drift (Conceptual Quarantine) and Bat I featured in this show, began as a response to the rapid spread of Covid-19 and the eerie uncertainty that ensued. While photographing “Sets,” I treated the objects like subjects, like photographing humans with personalities and inevitable motion. I was in the role of director and scenographer diligently staging my “actors”. Meanwhile, the raw colors lead the viewer into a vibrant virtual environment, the artist’s own construct, devoid of orientation and scale and unadulterated by photoshop. The originality was important because I wanted to make sure that my viewer saw exactly what I saw, the original state of the fleeting forms, the plastic bag woven into the nest, captured by my lens, with a sense of urgency and relevance. The Function of Ka was realized on the first day of the September 2019 Climate Strike.
*Due to the diverse nature of my current oeuvre, ask me questions any time. Please stay curious.
Leave a Note of Encouragement!