Fine arts senior Natalie Saez painted her interpretation of art therapy in 11 portraits. Her work is displayed in the downtown Phoenix Step Gallery.
In her artist statement, Saez said, “The act or even very idea of bringing sensitive information to light causes people to become avoidant and retreat behind walls of comfort, hiding their true thoughts and feelings. And that is simply not a way to live.”
Saez entitled her honors thesis exhibit “Full Disclosure” to encompass the transformative process of art therapy. Her work revolves around subjects burdened with sorrow and how art can rejuvenate the soul.
Her artist statement once again declared, “Art therapy and the mental stages a person undergoes while producing artwork is a core concept behind my portraiture.”
Saez’s inspiration stems from her work at an orphanage in Mexico, and her admiration for the way the children reacted before and after doing art. Aspects of their drawings have been incorporated into the portraits in her gallery.
The first three pieces show an individual with their back to the viewer. “Something Harmonious” is the name of her first painting. This subject’s head bows in the frame, his shoulders are visibly sunken and clouds distort the view of his profile. The piece carries a strong message to the viewer and sets a somber tone for further viewing.
The next piece shows a young woman, her back to the audience, and a tension heavy set in her shoulders. The title, “Astronomically Inclined,” lends credence to the stars and nebulas painted around her head. The painting is well-crafted, and seems to lead the audience to understand that this woman is lost to the stars, to a universe where her problems are non-existent.
The next two pieces in her gallery stand out from the rest. “Vibrant Haze” features a woman standing in a doorway, her profile distinct in the glow that extends from her chest and up to the edge of the painting. Half of her rests in darkness, but this is the first painting where the individual looks upward. The switch between the heavy sadness in the first three pieces imbues this work with its own emotional glow. The viewer glimpses hope on a canvas.
The strong lines direct the viewer to the face of the individual. “Vibrant Haze” could be a contender for Saez’s strongest piece in her collection.
“Dissociation,” the next piece, features the woman from the previous painting, but echoes of her face surround her profile as she peers out of a window. The work is bright and dark, and brings a psychological perspective into the gallery. It seems to display the internal workings of art therapy — how an individual must deal with or confront their problems.
“Full Disclosure” will be at downtown Phoenix’s Step Gallery until Feb. 13. The closing reception will take place at the gallery on Feb. 13 at 5 p.m.
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