Arts & Culture / Mosaic / April 24, 2008

Carving the self

Saba Akram looks for identity in her art and western culture.

Saba Akram is an economics major turned art major. Her focus is in painting, though she started with fashion design, and she plans to return to it after she graduates Knox.

Akram has always been interested in color. Some of her older works on display show a time when Akram was interested in the blend of color, materials, and “letting it flow,” she said. After finding these pieces too “decorative and paternistic” she moved onto her more recent style as seen in her larger works. The change in perspective came after Akram attended the New York trip with the college.

“Immersed in this world of galleries… and intensive drawing [classes]” Akram hit her “breakthrough point.”

This new painting style Akram describes as “intertwined claustrophobic space.” Where bodies, masses, and limbs gather and float in space. “The figures are in conflict with each other,” said Akram, representing “loss of identity.”

Akram said that part of what inspires her to paint about the loss of identity is her own cultural clash. Akram is from Pakistan and laments never studying more of her local artists. Her art and patterns are often labeled as ‘exotic’, though she admits the majority of her study is in the “western abstract expressionist realm.”

As Akram painted her work opened up new meanings and possibilities.

“Everything was discovering something,” she said.

Akram plans to attend the Art Institute of San Francisco to study fashion and marketing.

Senior Philippe Moore wants to create work that is “an experience not dictated but possible.” He explores existentialism through taking apart the self in his paintings and prints.

Moore is a major in painting and drawing, and has minors in French and musical performance.

Moore found self-portraits to be the “first convincing” art form he had worked with; he “used the self-portrait as a vehicle.” With this in mind Moore asks the question, “How can self identity exist within this space that destroys identity?” He has since played with “ideas of erasing the self.”

Moore finds that the “self is extremely political, if I feel this way another human being is likely to as well.”

“These paintings are all sorts of explorations,” he said.

Moore’s artwork is an exploration of the breakdown of the self through exploration of the “feeling of anxiety.” Anxiety in his painting is created by the tension between destruction and creation. The destruction comes from ideas of himself in relation to the space around him, where the space “reaches a critical mass, [and] the weight of everything crashes into an ultra intense void; while the creation side comes from his social and curious self.

This tension is seen in Moore’s work with the identity of his face, but an image where Moore will “strip away flesh, carve it out, cut through it,” he said.

He plays with the space in relation to the portrait in each piece. He has been working with incorporating ideas of returning to something larger than one’s self, the “sense that you must lose yourself to become something greater”.

Moore switched to printmaking because he was interested in the way it works. The “uncertainty of the final image,” the multiple layers and the ability to go back and work with the printing plate are alluring to Moore.

Moore admitted this idea of anxiety and transition in his work may be a result of this being his final year at Knox. Moore plans to receive a master’s degree in studio art, and go on to be a professor.

Klayr Valentine-Fossum


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