Sydney Reaper is a visual artist and assistant curator living and working in Brunswick, Maine. She studies at Bowdoin College, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Arts, Art History, and English literature. She was raised by families of sailors in Long Island, Rhode Island, and Bermuda and finds comfort in a life lived not tethered to one place. She is an assistant to the curator of modern and contemporary works of art and co-director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Her research focuses on female artists of the avant-garde and Abstract Expressionism movements. She interacts with works of varying media in the museum’s collection and in her visual arts courses and is interested in confrontations of traditional artistic conventions through artist’s materials, processes, and subject matter.
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Sydney received a traditional artistic training–primarily concerned with the effects of realism–at Bowdoin College, and from her studies at Studio Arts College International in Florence, Italy. She is concerned with the mastery of drawing, and with painterly techniques rooted in a deep appreciation for art history. Her recent work aims to present a contemporary perspective by exploring various mediums and using her own photography as a reference. Working mostly in charcoal on a range of surfaces, her work seeks refuge in states of fluctuation. Using an industrial but disintegrating medium, Sydney aims to capture elements of her urban and oceanside upbringings and the concrete and watery worlds she inhabits. Her work overlaps industrial and natural elements, two and three-dimensional representation, and eternal and temporal subject matter to create a sense of both tension and flow that mimics her artistic process.
What defines a composition? In this body of work, Sydney Reaper’s expressionist process seeks to explore the possibilities of composition and orientation. Using charcoal on panel and paper, Reaper reimagines her photography of the swirling of a broken wave, a winding coastline, and a cityscape as bases to reexamine orientation—rotating and transforming works before and after the fact to see how these drawings can be an opportunity for viewers to find familiar forms. Looking at the works, I try to imagine the photograph Reaper originally captured, how the brushed-on charcoal expresses the calm intensity of the ocean’s tumult, how the strikes of charcoal invigorate a bush’s life, how a blended space can become salty air. Reaper’s works all balance between influences of industrial and organic, urban and open, lasting and ephemeral. Her works seek “refuge in fluctuation,” both in their organic process of creation and in the viewers’ eyes; reading the dynamics of loose composition and traditional drawing styles, viewers are able to both recognize and lose themselves within the forms.