By Lilly Ward
As is the case with many artists, personal experience often serves as the primary foundation for works of art. Artists often mine their lived experiences for unique unexplored concepts. For seniors Micheala Moran and Angela Siwarski, their experiences of their upbringings provides a source of inspiration that remains evergreen.
"Ink and Earth" by Micheala Moran
In visual arts major Micheala Moran’s senior solo exhibition, nearly everything comes from the Earth. From the ink that she uses to the branches, leaves and dirt that reside in the space of the gallery, all the materials are biodegradable and natural.
“Everything that is here will return to the ground,” said Moran.
Moran’s work draws inspiration from her love of nature which has persisted since childhood, as well as concern for the fate of the natural world amid growing environmental concerns. Her work of art, “Home,” a small sort of shelter composed of branches, twine and soil sourced from the artist’s hometown conceptualizes the connection she feels with the Earth.
“I kind of had this really weird relationship with bringing land from my house,” said Moran. “I kind of personified the dirt and the grass in a way.”
As the grass died, the deterioration of the small parcel of land made Moran reflect on the gradual loss of her childhood.
Moran’s largest work in the gallery also demonstrates her commitment to using organic materials, as well as natural processes. Rather than using a sewing machine to piece together “Impressions,” a work made of canvas, and cotton muslin sheets, Moran sewed the cloth by hand. In the fabric she included prints inspired by memories from throughout her life.
“These memories and these moments did make me who I am,” said Moran.
“Tradition Redefined” by Angela Siwarski
Inspired by traditional Polish textiles, the work of senior visual arts major Angela Siwarski centers on unifying modernity and heritage. Fabric takes unexpected forms as delicate strips of fabric are suspended from the ceiling with chicken wire, and bright floral patterned cloth is folded on canvases.
In the corner of the gallery, a chair made by Siwarski sits unobtrusively in the corner with a handmade pillow with purple flowers.
“I wanted it to look kind of like it’s your grandma’s house,” explained Siwarski.
In “Tradition Refined,” Siwarski makes a convincing argument for the recognition of traditional textiles as an art form as well as craft. A recent trend within the arts is the reconsideration of textiles through a contemporary lens.
Well known artists such as MiKyoung Lee, Faith Ringgold and El Anatsui all employ the use of textiles in their artwork.
Siwarski uses a range of mixed media to capture the texture of fabric, such as plaster and acrylic paint. To modernize the familiar textiles, she takes them out of their everyday context while paying homage to their role in tradition and cultural heritage. The patterns in her art stem from trips to Poland to visit her family and admiring the different textiles in their homes.
Although she was originally interested in the tradition of realist oil paintings as a freshman, Siwarski began to take inspiration from the abstract expressionist movement of the 1950s in her junior year. She became fascinated with portraying texture on canvas. However, she wanted to make art that was personal to her own cultural experiences.
“I wanted to show how cultural fabric is important and how it’s a major part of anyone's background,” said Siwarski.