Brandeis students are once again proving their talent with the fine arts. The 2021 “Home and Abroad” exhibition is now on display in the Goldman-Schwartz art studio building, featuring many different students from Brandeis, including award winners and those who participated in the Siena study abroad program. The informal exhibition will be available until Oct. 3. Three featured artists spoke to The Brandeis Hoot about their works on display.
Aileen Cahill ’23 had never done an arts class where she produced paintings prior to this summer. “I am primarily an art historian, I’m not a studio art major,” she said. Cahill went to Siena with the Brandeis study abroad program. While she was there, she completed four paintings in less than six weeks—a very quick turn around, especially for one who is unfamiliar with the painting world. Stil, Cahill enjoyed her time, saying she really valued the skills she learned. “It doesn’t matter how many times you read in a book [about oil painting]… it’s completely different to be feeling it in your hands at that moment, to be manipulating that medium. It was a huge learning experience for me, and I’m really blown away by how much I didn’t know about painting. It allows me to look at art in a different way as an art historian.” Her favorite piece that she created was a landscape painting of her favorite views from Siena. “I knew that I wanted to come out with a painting that was a memorial to my time in Siena; it was more important to me to include things that were meaningful, than to have a beautiful painting that could be of any city.” This is the first time Cahill has displayed work, and she is excited to see her paintings in the exhibition.
Anya Shire-Plumb ’22, on the other hand, is no stranger to art and displaying work. This is the second time she’s been featured in the “Home and Abroad” exhibition, as she studied in Siena in 2019. This year, projects that she made after taking an Arts New England class using the Remis Grant are on display. “I’m more of a figurative painter; I’m usually more drawn towards the figure and the body, but this class was a landscape class, so that was something different for me,” said Shire-Plumb. She has a few pieces on display, including a large composite piece that is technically unfinished. “I think I wanted to include something in the show,” she said about the large piece. “I don’t think it would’ve made sense to include the two studies without showing what the studies were for.” Her favorite works are the two “studies,” areas of the big composite piece that she practiced before painting on the large canvas. These paintings were inspired by an area near her aunt’s house in England. She is particularly drawn to her “acidic” study, as it is done with “acidic” colors like red and purple. She really liked the way the shadowing came out in that piece and enjoyed getting to use colors that might seem uncommon in nature, as well as the way she manipulated the oil to create very “flowy” brush strokes.
Vicente Cayuela Aliaga
Vicente Cayuela Aliaga ’22 hopes to show the connections between humans and nature in his multimedia pieces on display in this exhibition. Though he comes from a photography background, after taking a sculpture class at Brandeis he was inspired to create three-dimensional works of art. He is using plaster casts to make commentary about climate urgency. “I finally found a philosophical subject that I know I can explore through art,” he said. “I’m interested in the philosophical concepts of the artwork more than anything else.” His process involves making a rubber mold of a subject, separating that mold in specific body parts, making modifications to fit his artistic vision and then finding ways to stage the parts in nature. He kept his subjects a secret, saying that he didn’t want to put a name to the bodies, so that way everyone could try to find themselves in the art. The displayed prints of his pieces are submerged in water or in a tree, showing the connection to nature. He’s really interested in exploring this connection, and is even doing so in his thesis. “I’m excited because I feel like it’s a very poignant topic to be discussing right now, especially climate urgency, and the role of humans to nature. I tried to find something that connects me—and hopefully other people can connect with that desire. We are part of nature, not separate from it.”