Personal and powerful

May 14, 2018 | Arts & Culture


I grew up with the story of Baba Yaga – an old witch who lives deep in the forest in a little log cabin perched on a chicken’s leg. If you didn’t behave properly, she would come out of the woods and eat you. I remember being terrified by that story as a child, but over the years it has become a sort of comfort to me.

That story, and the blankets my great-grandmother made for my brother and I, are part of a four-foot-square painting for the final project in my painting class. Baba Yaga’s hut is tucked into a scraggly forest in the background, a figure in the foreground is shrouded in the creamy yellow, blues and pinks of my blanket, and a second figure shrouded in my brother’s blanket is crouched along a river, either fishing out or releasing birds downstream.

There's a lot of personal symbolism woven into that piece, but another piece I have in the Fine Art Grad Show is about something much larger than myself. It's a triptych, a drawing across three panels, about sexual violence against women. It’s about creating art that is socially engaged. The work explores consent and invites people to place stickers that say “yes” or “no” directly on the drawings. I hope the triptych will be completely covered, and that by the end of the grad show you won't be able to see the drawings anymore.

Never did I think I would make art that I would invite people to destroy. Never did I think I would make art that I would destroy myself. Never did I think I would do performance art, speak in front of people, introduce my own work or critique the work of others. We’ve all grown so much, and I’m looking forward to seeing our grad show in the Mitchell Gallery – how it’s curated and how everything works together.

I hope lots of students and faculty members come see the show too. I’ve been inviting all of my friends in different programs, and the people I volunteer with at SAMU and peer support. When my friends are studying for finals, I’m talking about critiques and deadlines. This is such a great opportunity for people across disciplines to learn about each other.

–Taiessa, 2nd year student, Fine Art 

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