2017: That's a Wrap!

The year 2017 is coming to a close. The end of any year often yields a rather reflective mood and general contemplative mentality. It's hard not to analysis (and judge) one's productivity during the past annum. The main importance is to feel some level of success at the achievements one's accomplished, despite any experienced pitfalls.

     In saying that, this was a difficult year. It started in West Lafayette, IN, where I was only half way through the first year of an M.F.A. program at Purdue University. As mentioned in the previous blog post, I decided right around this-time last-year that I did not want to stay in Indiana for two more years to finish my Masters at Purdue. The program itself was not the problem for me, it was more to do with a lack of connection to the Midwestern culture and a lack of sense-of-community. My work relies heavily on responding to subcultures and music scenes, and where I was living in Indiana felt too straight-laced to react to. Rather, I decided to come back to Southern California. In SoCal I have a large support network of people, including my sister and my art collective, so it feels like a natural place to regroup and plan the next step.

Some of the work I made/started making during my time at Purdue University. Most of these pieces were completed either in the summertime before I left Indiana, or upon my arrival back to California in the late summer. This picture was taken during a critic around the middle of spring semester, 2017.

Studio picture of myself at work, taken by a fellow M.F.A. student.
     Before relocating to California, I visited my father and paternal family in Australia. Being around my family was very helpful to my well-being, as the year I had just experienced was so isolated. While I was traveling I was able to contextualize ideas and directions I wish to pursue in my work. One of the most impactful of these conceptions was the desire to create films and animations, in addition to my fixed figure drawings. Since the conception of these ideas, I have made one stop motion animation which I feel quite pleased about. It is by no means a flawless creation, as the process of creating it was an incredible learning experience of mostly what not to do. However, I feel that this is a direction I will revisit and expand upon in the very near future.

      *Please see last post or visit my website to view the animation I am referring to. www.emilybabette.com.
     **An artist who has been inspirational, due to his animation films in a similar charcoal drawn style, is the South African artist William Kentridge. I recommend looking up his animations, as they are quite profound.

     Furthermore, to update and expand upon my last post I would like to add updates about the outcomes of some of the projects I was working on a few months ago. Firstly,  I was working on a small series of portraits of musicians who have tragically past away. Thus, I named this series "Dearly Departed" for fairly obvious reasons. These works were presented a few times at community art walks, such as the Bixby Knolls First Friday's art walk in Long Beach, CA (As pictured below).

     In addition to the "Dearly Departed" series, my nighttime landscapes have gained some momentum.  There are artists in art history who are known to be notably interested in nighttime landscapes. For instance, James Abbott Whistler's Nocturne series of the nineteenth century relates to my nighttime scenes in the historical lineage of landscape paintings.

     Moreover, below is an artist statement used in a show called Mi Casa es Su Casa. This show was a collaborative effort between the FA4 Collective of Long Beach, California and El Comalito Collective and Cultural Center in Vallejo, California. By reading the statement, one will be able to connect how the significance of the Nighttime landscapes relates to the theme of home, identity, and place. 

      The opening reception for Mi Casa es Su Casa was such a blessed occurrence for me and three other members of the FA4 Collective who accompanied me to Vallejo, California. Our show was curated by FA4 Collective member Fransisco Palomares and was based around the theme of home, identity and place. This theme was left quite open to interpretation, as every participating artist feels differently about what the idea of "home" ignites within their individual psyche and memory.

From left to right: Edgar González, Ciana Lee, Myself, Fransisco Palomares,
Gloria Elisa Margarita Sanchez, and Abel Rodriquez.

     The weekend adventure began with a seven hour road trip from Los Angeles to Vallejo. Upon arrival to our destination, I couldn't help but reflect on our fortune to engage with an art world outside of Long Beach and Los Angeles. This idea seems trivial perhaps, but it was such a beautiful experience to connect with people solely due to our love to make and show work, and to strengthen the community through art. Our hosts for the weekend were El Comalito Collective owners and founders Edgar-Arturo Camacho-Gonz├ílez and Abel Rodriquez, a couple both gracious and courteous. This was the kind of art event that I had been longing for all year long. 

There is nothing like the feeling of a stranger buying your work.

Gloria, Fransico, myself and Ciana finishing the installion of Mi Casa es Su Casa on December 7th. Edgar was telling us how he usually installs all of the shows at El Comalito himself, so he felt uncomfortable at first by handing us the reigns. However, we all shared some wine as we worked, and it was surprising to all of us how effortless the installation process ended up being.

     Finally, the last project I will mention in this post is a mural commission I have undertook at the cafe I work for in Downtown Los Angeles. The mural is in the restroom, and encompasses the span of about fifty linear feet. I was given a speculative concept of "a desert scene," so I designed it quite independently of a concrete direction.

Before: with bare white walls.

In-progress shot, December 2017

     Unfortunately, I did not have the time in December to start and to finish the mural. Thus, completing it will be my mission upon coming home in the New Year. I am currently on my Christmas holiday in B.C., Canada, from where I am writing this post. I am very thankful for my manager for the opportunity she has given me to do a mural at her cafe. I would love to do more murals and commissions in 2018! Additionally, while on holiday, I am also completing over ten applications to various university programs around the US and the UK. My strategy to to open as many doors as I can, and then see where I am accepted/where my best fit is located. It is unknown where I will be this-time next-year, but as long as I have a productive 2018 I think I will be happy.


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