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Gabriella Valente


Thesis Title: Written in the Stars

As someone who struggles with anxiety, I spend a great deal of time anticipating the unknown. I become enveloped in my security blanket of familiarity, and am content to stay there. However, life involves that acceptance of change. this change can be uncomfortable. It can be especially discouraging when life does not pan out in the way that we have planned. One way that I have come to cope with expecting the unexpected is by believing that whatever is meant for me is written in the stars. if you believe that something is written in the stars, you have faith that it will be made to happen by a force that is above your control. Within the last year, I have had to come to terms with a great deal of heartbreak, the sudden loss of my grandparents ten months apart, changes in my body triggering self-esteem issues, and being abandoned by loved ones who promise they would always be there me.

This exhibition is inspired by weathering these uncomfortable changes, letting go of expectations and turning these unexpected events into something beautiful.

The collection of work in this exhibition contains celestial, galactic skyscapes which are products of my heart, mine, and soul. They represent all of the obstacles that I have endured over the years. These changes, for better or for worse, have shaped me into the person I am today. Each of the paintings is titled after a crystal with symbolic meaning tied to healing and weathering change. Throughout the past semester I had done a deep dive into my artistic style and a great deal of thinking about what inspires me, and I feel as though I have finally found my identity as an artist. Throughout my work on this exhibition, I have explored my interest in underpainting. I am fascinated by scumbling and the layering of colors and textures. While my medium for these works of art consists only of acrylic paint, my process included a tremendous variety of paint application to achieve the desired effect with brushes, sponges, precious, shower loofahs, palette knives, and my own touch. Through being so hands on with my artwork, I was able to connect with my artistic identity and embed aspects of my character into each painting. Working with paint in this way allowed me to break away from preconceived notions I had about my work and rise above these limitations their previously held me back.

The two artists who have most inspired my exhibition work are contemporary American painter Barbara Takenaga and Australian painter Cathrin Machin. Takenaga is known for swirling, abstract paintings that have been described as psychedelic and cosmic, as well as scientific, due to their highly detailed, obsessive patterning. Machin Creates glow-in-the-dark space art paintings that look just like photos taken from a telescope. From an art history perspective, I believe that this contemporary artwork comes about for several reasons. Aesthetically, there has always been an interest in portrayal of the night sky. This can be seen in the work of Van Gogh, for example, which contemporary artists are still fascinated by today. Additionally the increased interest in science stemming from the Renaissance along with various scientific advancements such as a telescope have lended to a closer view at the sky and all of its cosmic elements. This can be seen in the work of Leonardo da Vinci, for example, who created paintings of several galactic scenes during his lifetime.