Plaster + Wood
These works exist somewhere between the physical and digital world. They started as 1-to-1 replications of wood found at the beach, and as they were cast and documented, they were abstracted further and further from the original object. Now, they exist in a state of limbo, part real and rooted in the physical world, part abstract, a figment of the internet; They are something “else”.
Silicone, Plaster, Coconut, Rope, Human hair, Lichen, Enamel, Asphalt, Gold leaf.
“Before you worry about the beauty of your body, worry about the health of your body.” Amit Kalantri
Throughout the semester at home, no one illuminating idea came to me. Instead of constricting this flow of ideas, I chose to let my hands wander with my mind and create sketches and pieces that range in multiple kinds of art mediums. That is why even though I did not consciously create a “series,” I have chosen to group pieces together into series.
NOSTALGIA IS NOW
pen on paper, charcoal frotage on paper, red chalk frotage on paper, linocut print edition
What was usually handy and satisfying to me was pen to paper. With this, the options for what I drew were quite limitless, even though it was so simple at the same time. I spent much of the time sketching my surroundings, as seen in both the drawing of a living room and drawing of a stove. The living room is mine at home, and a place of comfort and centrality not only now, during the pandemic, but also previously in my life. This drawing captures both nostalgia AND the present, something that I didn’t realize was possible to have together in one piece until now.
To build on these simple pen drawings, I created prints, and experimented with frotage by rubbing charcoal on paper over the plates for the prints, creating a warm, fuzzy element that feels very different than just line drawings.
SIMPLE AND COMPLEX AT PLAY
pen, sharpie and watercolor on paper
To expand on pen to paper, I added watercolor. With watercolor, I first created simple floral images that were simply just pleasing to make and look at after. From there, I created a kind of doodle with watercolor spheres, pen, and sharpies. This image was honestly inspired by how my mind felt at the time. I felt as if the chaotic yet cohesive image represented something less tangible, which is an outlier from the rest of my pieces that are very representative of more tangible things, items, or spaces.
FOR WHEN I SEE MY FRIENDS AGAIN
8×4 ft wood hand painted and coated with epoxy resin
This table I made almost felt silly to include, as it is just a collage of pop culture, Bowdoin, and Maine elements. Then I decided the time and work that went into creating each section as well as the processes of creating a design, hand painting, and coating this table wasn’t to be undermined even though it was a project intended to be just for fun and to look forward to a time when we are back at Bowdoin with friends.
A NIGHT OUT
Digital Drawings, 21x30in.
This work was an exploration of logo and symbolism, in digital conversation with iteration and mass production. The current state of the world has changed our culinary experience, advantaging businesses with safe methods of delivery built into their model. As food is integral the greater culture of society, the pandemic has changed a key part of our human experience. This series speaks to this new reality as logos we’re used to as options become the dominating depiction of our food culture. Stylization mimics screen printing as a nod toward the Warhol era of pop art, with digitalization being a modern take in our now entirely digital way of life.
THE CORONA PORTRAIT
Oil on Canvas
The independent studio work in this class has really helped me to identify that what interests me most as an artist is collage–putting things together that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. Throughout the last few weeks, I’ve been playing with this idea through working on paper and video collages. For this final piece, I moved back towards painting and explored how I could document COVID-19 in painting. I call this “THE CORONA PORTRAIT” because as we are forced to stay inside, we have to figure out how to interact with the outside world, including nature, in new ways. The painting uses invented reality to bring plants indoors, with lily pads on on the carpet or grasses and weeds growing inside.
ink on found fabrics, natural dyes
This work—part photograph, part quilt, part print—explores the boundaries between craft and art. The act of creation is part of this piece’s soul and purpose; hand-dying, cutting and sewing each tile became a meditative practice of creation, division, and re-combination. Sewing mimicked the iterative and mindless aspects of printmaking (inking, stamping, inking, stamping). I was inspired by nighttime neighborhood walks and dark residential streets that become dark patterns of lighted windows after sundown. Their light both beckons and forebodes, reminding us both that there are others within and that we are necessarily without. The quilt became a symbol for a kind of mythic New England domesticity that is exotic to me and feels very much like a kind of costume to try on, character to playact.
As this class is Art, Science, and the Environment, I found it fitting that I could use my own art to explore new dimensions of my environmentally-based science. For the past few years, I’ve been doing research on a population of Leach’s Storm Petrels on Bowdoin’s Kent Island. While I understand the necessity for objective, data-based science, I am often frustrated with the relatively dry, emotionless way many scientists discuss the living things they work with. I wanted to express the beauty I find in my research subjects, as well as the habitats they live in. I think art, especially this sort of careful, observation-based art, shows and requires the deep care and reverence that I want to see more in the scientific community.
Because my work is in many ways illustrative, it has a bit more of an explicit purpose than some other work I’ve done. Despite this, I wanted to make sure that my drawings can hold their own as individual works, not just scientific illustrations. To do this, I had to keep in mind the same rules of composition, design, and general aesthetic appeal, that I’ve considered in my studio art practice for years.
It is probably obvious to you all that these pieces are very much a continuation of the pen and ink drawing I did while we were still at Bowdoin, both in style and subject matter. A lot of my interest in both my art and science focuses on my enjoyment of the many small details of the natural world. These can be as lively as the burrowing birds themselves, or as innocuous as the tiny tangle of leaves that make up the moss on a stump. I’ve really enjoyed trying to capture a the near-magical essence of a small patch of ground. Some, like my field of fireweed and goldenrod, are bursting with energy, bees flying, flowers pointed towards the sun. Others showcase the more quiet complexity of the fungi, plants, and insects that also make their homes near the petrel burrows.
To give a taste for what this work looks like in its more scientific contexts, I’ve included screenshots of the figures in my honors project’s methods section, as well as under the acknowledgements, where I’ve decided to put my field drawing.
Giant stairs, the series 2020
“Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong, and laughter never ends.”-Unknown
What exactly is home? Is it a place, is it a feeling, a memory perhaps…During this series, I explored a place that I call home: The Giant Stairs trail in Bailey Island. I have been going to this place since I got to Bowdoin, it is a place that has brought me my happiest and saddest memories. During this pandemic, I grasped for this feeling of “home” and I was able to call this place, my constant. As I stared at the waves hitting the rocks time and time again, I will always be grateful to this place for making me feel like the world around me was ceaseless even when it wasn’t.
The process for this series was inspired by layered artwork. I used charcoal on watercolor paper as my “skeleton” and then used watercolor, Photoshop, Photoshop Mix, and photos of Giant Stairs as my surface treatment. Each composition is made of image layers that range between 5-10 different images. Each piece, hopes to find a balance between loose charcoal drawing and realistic elements.
Materials: Charcoal on watercolor paper, watercolor, Photoshop, Photoshop Mix, and Adobe Spark.
Michelle Behshid, Home Sweet Home
This piece represents a journal of uncertainty during the current pandemic and finding resilience within the surrounding flora. Members of my family who were present during the painting process found the images to emote darkness or a sense of burden while I found comfort and strength.
The figure is not suffocating or weighed down, but is given enough room to breath. The figure is not strictly in front of or behind the environment, but is firmly wrapped and almost emerging. The plant life is not delicate as they have dark colors and sharp points, but it still has a flow and a sort of elegance that brings peace to my mind.
Progress pictures are included as an ode to the highly experimental nature of my design process that was largely guided by my day to day experiences. Depicted plant life was found through local exploration in my area. The succulents are an adaptable species while the black elephant ear requires abundant nutrients and cannot tolerate dramatic changes in it’s environment.
For my final project, I have chosen to do a series of pencil and watercolor drawings, both as a way to catalogue my daily thoughts, and to remain engaged with my surroundings. The ensemble is titled A View. Dimensions are 8.5 x 11″.
The act of drawing is the translation from the eye to the hand, the conjugation of past and present, a process which blurs memory with reality and imbues nature with sentiment. These images are snippets of my daily life, and record my search to seek meaning in the mundane rituals of life under quarantine. I am equally invested in investigating what I am seeing and what is being left out—words erased from books, musings on a stranger’s grave, a watch that ceases to tell time. By doing so, I hope to communicate the fine line between personal narrative and universal experience. Using graphite and watercolor, I also ponder on the relationship between exterior and interior, the solitude of introspection, and the deliberate removal of human presence. I have an impetus to document life as it appears to me, and this poetry of daily life is thus at once fleeting and eternal.