A major component for completion of the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Visual Arts at UC Berkeley Extension is to develop a portfolio of work suitable for application to a Masters of Fine Arts program. I’ve been developing this portfolio for over a year and studying at UCBX for over three years. Yesterday I presented my portfolio to a committee of professors from the art department at UC Berkeley Extension. The reviewers looked at my photographed portfolio packet, my artist statement, and all the pieces installed in one of the classrooms. Additionally they interviewed me about the work, my processes, my inspirations, and my future plans. The most surprising aspect was the feeling of excitement that I had talking about it. This has all been such a marvelous adventure – both getting to this point and exciting options for further study and work. I’m thrilled to say that I passed the review!
Here are some highlights from my portfolio. See all portfolio images at my website.
I am a fiber artist using the unique qualities of hand-printed imagery on fabric to represent both the fragility and preciousness of the natural world. The imagery used sometimes represents the human body, such as the heart or pelvis, and sometimes it is abstracted from cellular and other biological forms to convey the idea that humans and other living beings are all very similar and dependent on each other.
As I worked to find my voice as an artist, I learned that my most authentic work comes from my own life experiences, including those as a nurse and a person concerned with protecting the environment. I used the bioethical precept primum non nocere (first do no harm) as a starting point for my current series, Life Forms. The first piece, The World Needs More, shows printed images of the pelvis that are degraded and unclear, and the additional collage materials are ominous; the upside down heart and the Latin text show us that something is wrong. Usually nature gets it right, but not always. Damage can occur resulting in mutations. This piece suggested further pieces using imagery of the circle of life and interconnectedness, death and renewal.
Just as nature uses replication to change things or to generate new life, printmaking is a way to replicate and alter images. I print the images onto whole cloth or pieces of fabric with silkscreen or linocut to create a unique fabric that can be further manipulated by cutting it up and combining it in a variety of ways. Printmaking also provides the opportunity to make multiples of the same images that can be used within a single piece or across work in a series.
Beyond the images, the meaning of my work is deeply intertwined with quiltmaking. I have a strong connection to quilt making going back to my childhood when I learned handcrafts such as sewing and knitting at my mother’s knee. Each piece in Life Forms either incorporates the layering and stitching seen in quilts, or references it in some way. As an active member of the local and international art quilt community, I have been exploring ways to help redefine the quilt as a relevant contemporary art form in the 21st century.
All photography by Sabila Savage.