On Thursday, Feb. 13, students and faculty sat down in the darkened Gund Gallery Foundation Theater to hear Mitra Fabian ’96 give a presentation about the works she has created, from those just after she graduated from Kenyon to her current works. Last semester, her work was displayed in Gund Gallery as part of the Alumnae: 50 Years exhibition.
Fabian’s main style and mediums have varied greatly over the years, but one constant in her artistic approach is the mixing of organic and synthetic materials. Using these materials, Fabian comments on environmental issues, highlighting the artificial nature of our daily lives, such as by her creation of fake yards. This trajectory of her work was inspired by her time spent studying abroad in Australia.
“What I witnessed there really changed my art trajectory,” she said. “Just seeing how other artists were working and being totally wowed by the natural world there which was unlike anything I had ever seen before.” She particularly explores this idea in her earlier works, with a distinct juxtaposition created by the sharp and soft aspects of her pieces.
Fabian often used abstract materials for her projects, one of which includes Scotch tape. With the tape, she created bulbous figures standing in for people in completely artificial scenes. One of her biggest works that features this technique is “Room for Recovery,” which used an entire room and featured several different scenes with figures that also seemed in some places seemed to emerge from the walls. This the last of her “Scotch tape phase,” as she became more concerned about her environmental footprint and decided to focus on using materials that did not create as much waste.
From that point on, she used materials that were left over from local industries in the area surrounding her studio in California, experimenting with balloons by creating plaster casts from them. As her style evolved, Fabian also started creating bigger and bigger pieces, culminating in works made from miles of leftover window lines that resembled toxic spills. Around that time, Fabian claimed she was “more concentrating on ‘what can I find that isn’t new consumption’ that still fits the paradigm of what I was trying to express.” She even went so far as to describe herself as a crow obsessed with finding the “shiny things.”
Her current work uses leftover electric components such as resistors, capacitors and diodes. Fabian began by experimenting with large quantities used in drawings that could be hung. Later, she managed to use them in a three-dimensional manner by creating ceramics and using the electric pieces to adorn the work.
Through her presentation, Fabian highlights how one’s style can shift throughout the passage of time, but still her universal theme remains the same: raising awareness for environmental issues through the juxtaposing mixture of natural and artificial.