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Youth Insights

Spring 2021
With Andrea Carlson

These YI Artists worked with artist Andrea Carlson to examine notions of time, representation, and landscape. Students focused on drawing and created storyboards, comics, and drawings that consider land, space, and time. Inspired by Carlson's practice of confronting the erasure of Indigenous cultures, students learned about settler-colonialism. In response to what they learned, students created 2D works about fractured landscapes, calling attention to the exploitation of land, resources, and people.


This artwork depicts the idea of Eternal return, which is a belief or theory that all that has happened in the past will happen again in the future in the form of a loop-- as in, history always repeats itself. Using a variety of mediums ranging from watercolor paint to oil-based markers, I depict this concept through an abstract painting of an untraditional landscape. Starting with the paint, I covered the paper with a light wash of multiple colors. I then layered on each aspect of the painting, including the figures, buildings, and motifs done with micron pen. Lastly, I accentuated these details with marker for a lasting pop of color. The rise of humanity and it's empires cause destruction to the earth, but under the theory of eternal return, the earth will one day regain control and revert back to it's original incarnation as an endless ocean. Just as the first living beings came from a splurge of cells, the universe will restart once more and humanity will inevitably return in a different configuration.


Within this project I had wanted to convey the idea that humans want to gain control over things that seemingly aren't possible, such as nature itself.  It is true that people can buy land and technically gain control over everything within it, however, in this piece, I wanted to show the idea that humans want more than what they have and that they want to extend the boundaries of what they can control. Therefore, this piece conveys the idea that as time goes by, humans themselves have made an effort to cross the boundaries of what they can control by becoming the different parts of nature themselves. This is shown through the multiple hands within the piece, which represent the humans, as objects in nature such as trees and logs.  


I was inspired by my favorite video game called genshin impact.  In one of the stories, it speaks about the god of wind and his friend who had fallen in battle. To honor his friend, the god took on the form of said friend. This makes me think about how time erases everything and this god is the last remnant of this person. The space around him also changed from a battlefield, with his dying friend, to a peaceful city. I used colored pencils as my medium.


I am inspired by the idea of using art as a language, a way to tell a story without the simplicity of words. I wanted to tell the story of how a landscape changes over time, particularly the gradual industrialization that many landscapes have gone through over time. I wanted to find a concept out of a subject matter that has typically been portrayed in a very literal manner and I really enjoyed making something that felt so dimensional, despite being made with paint, a two dimensional medium. To do this, I had to leave behind many preconceived ideas of what a landscape is and what it should look like, which was difficult, but I was ultimately able to create something that I had never seen before in art.


A constant in my art is to tell the story of the human condition, not especially bound by humans. This usually takes the form of taking note of something's purpose in the grand scheme of the universe, something humans worry about a lot. It isn't meant to make humans and their emotions pathetic, while that device can be used- rather, it should empower us with ideas on where we want to go.  It is a paradox: I show something gaining it's place in the universe, so you can do the same, like telling stories about something gaining it's place in the universe. I think digital art is personally a stronger, more efficient medium for capturing that. While it may seem like cheating, with all the brushes, the unrestricted color wheel, and of course, the undo button, it really shines forward how there isn't exactly such a thing as cheating in art. This artwork, specifically, I feel speaks to the idea of Time and Space through my general concept of storytelling through art. There is a tree, that has grown so massive, that it seems outside of time, overwhelming it's space that it will always be bound to, the forest. Things may have changed as this tree matured, but nothing will keep it down. The planes seen to the right, are meant to represent that threat of change. They are modeled after planes from the world war eras, to drive home how dangerous they are. But it can be gathered, by the scale of the tree, that it's roots keep it from being pushed over. It practically beckons the planes, as if to say, that the planes should be afraid.


My creative work which consists of vibrant watercolors is a reflection of my domestic space and the ongoing environmental issues beyond my bedroom walls. Since the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, my time in isolation has inspired me to create art that brings a sense of familiarity to its viewers. Thus, my initial thought was to display space through documenting areas of my bedroom. I made the conscious decision to place these drawings in the center of my canvas because historically colonial powers have excluded and misrepresented marginalized groups on maps. As an Indigenous Mexican American, I yearned to be represented in my art. Other symbols such as hands and faces are dispersed throughout my canvas to give signs of human life and represent the idea that society exploits and manipulates its surroundings. Moreover, time is represented through irreversible damages to the environment and the accumulation of entities over time.


My piece focuses on the fact that despite time always being "given" to us, it is actually taking from us. We are always so caught up with the idea of time and never having enough that we begin to watch life pass us by. It's like we're trapped in a jar thinking of things we could've done or regretted not doing with nothing in the jar but time. This piece was inspired by those around me who are always stressed out because there is "never enough time." Seeing others in this state of mind made me realize that time is very suffocating and not even real since it is man made. My art went through a lot of changes due to the feeling that everything I tried was terrible. I experimented with oil pastels, and acrylic paint but ended up using watercolors because it looked best.  


Living in New York, my life is filled with the eye-catching scenery of tall buildings and never-ending construction, while new buildings seem to pop up every day. In my piece, I wanted to depict what it would be like for animals to view a peaceful and natural setting without skyscrapers and everything that comes with city life, similar to the way that a person would view a display at a museum. This idea came from thinking about how different the experiences of an animal living in the city is compared to how I live my life everyday, and thinking of how to convey time being still in an art piece. I tried to draw attention to the living creatures in my piece by making the natural background box-like and simple, with playful flowers, mountains, and an abstractly shaped sun using colored pencil, gouache and acrylic paint. I also incorporated some newspaper and marker into the sides of my piece. As an artist, mixed media pieces are exciting and inspire me because working with multiple mediums allows me to slowly build up color and depth. To me, this piece is a taste of real nature for those who may be missing that in their own lives.


I chose to depict how humans use and abuse nature like it’s an unlimited resource. I wanted to bring attention to how humans are wasting so many resources which means that we’re running out of time before we run out of them. The hourglass is meant to symbolize the aspect of time and it's significant because in an ordinary hourglass, once the sand completely runs out, there is no more and it’s the end. I was going for a similar concept but instead of sand, I chose to depict nature. The process of actually getting to the final work was challenging because I originally had a hard time coming up with an idea. At first, I wanted to depict a skyline and the evolution of a city skyline and I wanted to somehow incorporate a tree branch. I later ended up choosing an hourglass because it combined time and space.


The intent of my art is to provide an image about the way time sucks us in, traps us, and condones us to a certain route. The hourglass is meant to represent society keeping us in, not letting us break through the social construct of time. In my background, I included newspaper clippings to represent the passage of time. All of this ties together to represent space because it's really just an area we're occupying for a temporary time, and everything ties back to it.


The City that never sleeps had fallen into a deep and dark nightmare, time stopped, the city was a desert, its classic streets abandoned without tourists without locals, The fast life of New Yorkers stopped at the sound of a click, but inside from each department all of them dealing with their demons.


Cityscapes have always fascinated me. From the reflection of the sun to the variations in glass, metal, and concrete, the shape of a city is what truly creates meaning within a space. It is what we create and build, and how we live in it, that brings to light the consciousness of a space. Through my art I seek to alter that space we are all familiar with, and transform the rigidity of cities into fluid shapes full of color. The sharp contrast between the vibrant structures and the dark background reveals the human desire to create, even within obscurity. The thick layers of acrylic paint highlight the turbulence of change, as pieces of what had been before hide beneath the surface. Within any urban space, change is constant, yet remnants of what a city looked like previously continue to live within the consciousness of the people living, and also leave physical traces. The build-up of acrylic paint, and the roughness of the texture point to the lasting impact of rapid changes in a space, and the constant reinvention found in cities.


I wanted to explore the different stories that a landscape can tell by using a collection of different elements to create a static piece that represented fluid quantities, such as time and space. My piece explores the creation of memories, and the relationship between the solidity of the past and the uncertainty of the future, and the strange similarities that connect them to each other and place them on a singular timeline. I aimed to juxtapose the feelings of looking back and the feelings of looking forward, from the left side of the artwork to the right, accordingly, and mixing warm and cold shades with sharp and flowing figures all throughout. This artwork aims to portray the feeling of being lost and searching, of nostalgia and hopefulness that arises from the passing of time, captured in the form of a landscape.


Upon being tasked with depicting time, space, and land in an unconventional sense, I found myself in conversation with colonization. I started to identify domestication and colonization in most every aspect of contemporary life, originating in the foundations of “American” society. I knew that I wanted to make an eclectic piece exploiting land, that both illuminated life and shadowed death. I was inspired by a trip I took to Woodstock, enchanted by the body of trees I awoke to from my window and charming story tapestries that hung in my room. My piece represents industrious change and I wish for it to embody land and nature. It encompasses many parts of society and their relationship in imploring the natural world.


This artwork shows Mother Earth laying on the ground, dying and her green grass hair is becoming brown. In the background is a beautiful forest, but the further your eye moves through the piece, the more damaged and ruined the forest gets until there are no trees left and all that stands is a factory, polluting the air. For this piece, I wanted to use landscape to tell a story of time. I wanted to convey that if we keep exploiting the earth in the way that we do, this could be our future. I also wanted to represent the earth as a figure so that people connect with it more, and think about, what if this were how we treated a human being, a life. In this piece you can see how the earth is being damaged literally, through the land, but you can also see how the life of the earth is being snuffed out, through the figure.


Using elements from the ocean and traditional art supplies, I wanted to create a naturalistic landscape using an abstract approach. Usually, the ocean is dominated by rich, dark blue hues. I used a palette knife, acrylic paint, and paint pens to express how I viewed sea life and my relationship to the ocean. I used a lot of orange tones to portray a different dimension to how natural life and bodies of water can be interpreted. This painting serves as an example to how vibrant environments can be even if humans do not dominate it. I wanted to show the variety of life under the sea through creatures, plants, and other living organisms.


“Time is like a river made up of the events which happen, and a violent stream; for as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away too.” 

Time is a river. It slips between your fingers, overflowing with baggage of the past and fantasy of the future. So then maybe it is more brutal than a river, less forgiving. Maybe time is an ocean, whose tides push and pull us between the past and the present. Whose tides pull us apart. To me, time feels like standing in this ocean, trapped between walls of space.  Trapped between the walls that are thick with layers of history, but are faded and worn, stripped of the truth. I’m not sure where one might find themself if they were to escape. 

(Quote from Marcus Aurelius)


Earth's landscape has a horizon line and perspective. Trees and buildings are grounded by the Earth's terrain. When you look up, you see sky, sometimes with clouds. The sun illuminates our landscape. But what if there are other landscapes? Ones with purple polka dots and stripes, with bodies that are not human. A landscape that would be bizarre to humans, but typical to other beings. My piece is an attempt to acknowledge that normal is a relative term. I constructed two landscapes: Earth's landscape and another theoretical world's landscape. Both landscapes are contained in the letter "i." The dot on the "i" is shared between both worlds to recognize that while there may be dramatic differences between our landscapes, perhaps there are characteristics which are shared. While creating this piece, I pushed my artistic boundaries, and I hope that my piece can help others do the same.


When given the prompt of time/space in an abstract form, I was immediately drawn to the idea of a tree. Trees live for hundreds of years and each of their internal rings has a fascinating story to tell. By drawing a tree stump using pencil, I was able to produce an old, sad atmosphere. However, the incorporation of the colorful flowers on the ground seem to celebrate the tree’s life and stories. This idea inspired the title, "A Celebration Of Time." I wanted the flowers to contrast the tree stump in more ways than one. I did this by using colorful paints, which changed the color scheme, medium, and depth of the piece.


I wanted to use changes to a natural environment to show the cyclical nature of time. Physical changes to a natural environment, whether seasonal or affected by human interaction, are visible indicators of the passage of time. In my piece, I attempted to show the phases and moments of transition landscapes undergo all at once, instead of at the subtle progression these variations normally occur. I wanted to create a single moment where changes that have happened and will happen occur all at once and the history, the present, and the future of an environment exist as one. This freeze frame of intertwining change makes the place unrecognizable for the viewer, it could be any space, any time. 

With every incision on the sheet of paper I altered the way the page would be perceived by the viewer, without the addition of other materials. I view the past, present and future as isolated, separate blocks of time that only have relation to each other in the form of imagination or memory. The paper holds each cut like a memory. These cuts allow a passageway for light to shine from behind the page through past the surface, conveying linear time. We accept changes to an environment because they are reliable but gradual, we can recognize and connect them to times we’ve experienced in those periods of change. 


I've never been one to lay down and look at the stars. I have lived in the city my whole life, where starlight is too weak to penetrate the cloud of pollution we’ve built around ourselves. I only see the moon, which is strong and close enough to be observed rising and falling, waning and waxing. In this painting, I imagined a world where I could not only see the moon, but was orbiting it. The moon is shown to be split in half, giving us a view of nature sustaining the life that we have tragically taken for granted. Rediscovering our respect for nature is the first step in restoring our planet. I believe this respect can be found in appreciation for life and the natural entities that make it possible. I hope to be a person who lays down, looks at the moon and whatever traces of stars I can distinguish, and is grateful.


I based this drawing on the antique, realistic landscape oil paintings I have often seen in museums. They capture the detail of the horizon incredibly, accurately illustrating the beauty of the natural world. When adding the clock in the corner, as a replacement for the sun, my goal was to make it look like someone had drawn over the picture. As if the piece was created a long time ago and someone had gone over it with a sharpie, editing and adjusting the way it is perceived. I used a different style to highlight the contrast between the landscape and the melting clock, and the way a small, diverging image can completely change the meaning behind a piece. The clock also emphasizes the idea that we are running out of time, especially in reference to restoring the natural environment.


When I walk down the street, I am always curious about the stories inside the buildings I see. There is a continuous history in these still objects. For 'Decomposition,' I wondered how I could visualize the passing of time. Stitching fit with this concept as it felt continuous yet incomplete. I wanted to further this by using repurposed materials, such as plastic and cardboard I found at home. The format and the composition of the piece play with multiple perspectives and scale, placing the viewers both inside and outside of the scene. Throughout the process, I found myself changing the angle and placement of different pieces in order to achieve this effect. My hope in choosing repurposed materials is to connect to the imbalance between the lifespan of nature compared to the built and produced environment.


The way I chose to depict space throughout my artwork is through the technologies we surround ourselves with.  For time, I wanted it to depict the way we have no time for any conversation such as chats and gossip like we used to before Covid-19. For example, we as students nowadays have no time to spend with family because for the entire day we have to stay in the technology. Classes virtually, after-school virtually, homework online no more on paper and for our free time as usual, we are also using technology. We do this day and night, but we fail to see the routine and what we've become. The only entity that knows what we've become are the technologies we use in our daily lives.  If one day they were to be given personality traits, they'll tell us of what we've become and it will freak us out. Also, humans think that in this universe we are the only entities in existence and that no one pays attention to our actions and what we do, but never wonder if we are ever being watched in this universe. That we don't even wonder if maybe our creations that we've created like the technologies are those who watch and notice what we are doing to our lives. Like part of the change this pandemic has brought to our lives is to change how we manage and conduct our day-to-day lives.


My project was inspired by the love I have for my country house, which has been my residence since the pandemic began. When I was given the prompt “time and space” I analyzed the space I was currently in and thought about the timeline it has endured. I recalled how my grandpa bought this house in the late 1960’s, my mom inherited it about seven years ago, and how I have been visiting since I was born. In order to translate this into art, I made a collage of different memories and objects I associate with my house. The mini memories are all in boxes outlined by the white paper that form an abstractified version of the house’s shape. I used many materials and colors to show how the memories I have made here were all unique and each has a story to be told.


What happens when time is alone? When does the sun go up and when do the snowflakes fall
Moments meshing together, with no end or beginning.
Time is fleeting, but no one is falling
Colors are swirling, darkness is too
The sun and the moon meet together,
they can now to coexist with each other
The stars become shy around the blue sky, they try to stay away Yet they just can't pull away,
dancing forever,
amongst one another,
Where did everyone go, how did nobody know?
Nobody gets left behind, when time is alone.



A 30-second online art project:
Amelia Winger-Bearskin, Sky/World Death/World

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