Rachel Bases

Motion and Change

Expression has come as means of coping with change. I express my internal turmoil as forms of paint and charcoal, smudged with my fingers across a page. I aim to convey this through loose, gestural lines and brushwork, and mix mediums to best express how I am feeling and what is happening in the world, or in my world. I aim to create content that evokes metaphorical movement and change that one experiences in life.

In my Studio Art Thesis, my ambition was to translate the idea of change and movement, in the physical, emotional, and psychological forms, to the physical two-dimensional space. I aimed to convey this through usage of gestural-type lines, facial expressions, and the overall integration of figuration and abstraction. While my main medium has been charcoal, I have found the addition of color can add to the dynamic nature of an image. To better understand and explore motion, I began working with the figure through the physicality of dance. I soon discovered the energy evoked by dancers conveys feelings I experience when I draw and– in this union– I felt a sense of being my most authentic self.  

I have been influenced by artists such as William Kentridge and animation artist, Glen Keane. I admire Kentridge’s and Keane’s works because they are able to convey a sense of emotion through movement, and that is something particularly special. Specifically, I admire Keane’s sense of emotional control in his motion animation. His incorporation of the story behind the movements add to the work on a new level. I strive to incorporate this type of bold energy into my own work. 

In my Thesis, I have explored emotional change through figurative motion with charcoal and paint. As I progressed, I incorporated layering and collaging to create images. To me, working with the human form is magical.  Accentuating the balance between highly rendered and loosely gestural marks is something that is particularly compelling. Conveying the idea of motion through this balance of medium, marks and color, has been my key artistic exploration, as seen in my Figurative Motion Series

I work roughly and gesturally, and aim to convey this through integration of figuration and expressive line, often portraying an active figure. This allows me to reflect the most authentic form of myself: the internal state of my emotions, portrayed externally through my art. My purpose in my dynamic mark-making is to create physical manifestations of the metaphoric concepts of movement and change.

My work changed most recently as the state of the world changed during this world pandemic and quarantine. Loss and confusion was everywhere. For me and so many, everything was changing. With illness and death in the world and my community on the rise, it pushed me to drive my beautiful graceful dancers into non-static bursts of change and movement, a sense of chaos, spiraling, and at times, ghostly. The constant media updates inspired my incorporation of Covid-19 newspaper texts, in conjunction with my figure work (as seen in my COVID-19 Series). In a way, I feel so much has come together through this final portion of my thesis, and I look forward to the path it propels me toward in my future artistic practice.