Students tell stories through Vitality art
Vitality, according to Merriam-Webster, is a lively or energetic quality or the power to continue living. At BRAVE’s Vitality Art Show, that definition was displayed in 34 art pieces over a variety of mediums.
For senior Hannah Raper, vitality was a ginkgo leaf pressed on paper via a copper mold, resilient in the face of anguish. The ginkgo tree was chosen for a piece titled “Tethered,” because it was among the few living remnants of Hiroshima, the city targeted by a nuclear bomb near the end of World War II, Raper said.
Playing with the idea that everything is connected, Raper put a tree rising away from the ginkgo as though it has a broad network of roots.
“I went through a period in my life where I was very depressed, considering taking my life, but never did because I always thought about how it would affect other people,” Raper said.
When Raper came to Western, she said she intended to be an environmental science major. After receiving a concussion she couldn’t remember the math or science necessary to go on. Raper said she questioned even being at Western.
Deciding to stay, Raper eventually found her passion for art and met her husband.
Senior Jasmine Escalante’s vitality was confessing her true emotions to others through art. Her piece projects a video, “The National Flower of the Philippines,” onto a yellow curtain. The video details her family’s history.
Escalante’s father was deported to the Philippines two years prior, she said. Much of her work circles around how she and her family cope with his departure, she said.
Her art piece acts as a confessional outlet, voicing emotions usually kept bottled.
“The more I talk about it, the more I understand it and the more I understand the situation,” Escalante said.
Inner emotions were also reflected in “Diagnosed,” another piece by Raper that encompasses her feelings toward being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder about a year and a half ago. The piece is a silhouette of her imprinted in black on hand-made, red paper.
She faces sideways and her head opens up in a flurry of cogs, lines and shapes billowing in a cloud above her.
“I was thinking about gears and all of these things—how my brain works, how it’s really hard to function sometimes when my brain is going in forty-bajillion different directions,” Raper said.
The piece is hung on the wall by an ordinary clothes hanger. Many people dismiss anxiety as something that can be easily taken off like a piece of clothing, she said.
Her aim was to visualize what’s really going on inside her, Raper said. She might look fine on the outside to some but really she could be on the edge of a mental breakdown, Raper said.
“Really it’s not a piece of clothing, it’s something I handle every day,” Raper said.
Sharing the wall with “Diagnosed” was “Dimension,” a black and white drawing by Lori Baca featuring an assortment of images reflecting her vitalities.
A bird flies, wings stretched, across the bottom of the piece. Above it stands a tree in front of a mountain in the distance, the pinnacle of which drips a tear into an outstretched hand.
At the top corner of the piece is a cross at which a human gazes from the other side.
Vitality is exemplified by sources of life, Baca said, one of which being her faith.
“I look to the cross and that gives me life, that gives me hope,” she said.
Baca believes that hope is one of the strongest drivers to live.
“If we didn’t have hope, then what is there to live for?”
Each element of Baca’s piece represents a source of life. The bird in her piece represents her ability to flourish in free expression. Three more fly across her forearm as tattoos.
The exhibition has closed until its next annual opening, however, the director of the Counseling Center, Shari Robinson, hopes a handful of the pieces could appear on the walls of the Counseling Center, she said.