Art in the Brain – – Loma Beat | Candle Made Easy

Ask any art student what they do after college and you’re sure to get a multitude of answers. Traveling, graduating from high school, moving to New York, starving, being poor – none of these are surprising answers.

Isabella Huljev, a fourth-year fine arts student at Point Loma Nazarene University, will graduate this spring. “God, it’s scary. It’s good to know that many creatives are in the same boat as me… no one really knows what to do or where to go,” Huljev said.

Her older art exhibition, titled Liability, was recently shown at the Keller Art Gallery and features four works dealing with mental illness. One of their pieces was a TV screen showing static and a large video playing on the wall behind showing their daily activities. It was meant to depict the phenomenon of derealization that Huljev thought she was experiencing alone.

“You feel detached from yourself and like you’re watching your life on a movie screen. I’ve had people reach out to me and they’re like, ‘Oh my god, I could never describe how that made me feel and that described it perfectly,'” Huljev said.

Huljev spent a month studying abroad in Florence, Italy, just before COVID-19 sent everyone home. She describes this period as the peak of her battle with mental illness.

“I’m still a bit embarrassed because I’m studying[ing] Going abroad is supposed to be fun and the time of your life and I’ve had the worst, but it humbled me and showed me how bad I could actually be before I needed help. So in that sense it was good, I had to hit a bottom I think to get better,” said Huljev.

After finding help in a summer therapy program, Huljev said she was able to put distance between herself and her illness by detaching enough to take a new perspective and turn it into meaningful work.

“One of my classmates does her show based on a sleep disorder she has, and as soon as I heard her say ‘disorder,’ I was like, ‘Oh, I have disorders, too,’ and then I realized that mental health is such a big one Part of my life,” said Huljev.

By reflecting the issue of mental health in her work, Huljev strives to make people feel seen.

“I think overall, making people feel like they’re not alone and that struggling with mental health is no different,” Huljev said.

One of the ways she does this is by making her work accountable.

A self-proclaimed “movie guy,” Huljev loves finding Easter eggs hidden in movies. She enjoys finding the way she relates to a film and digging deep to find that little piece in a film that speaks to her.

“I always wanted to be able to do this for others. I feel that work that is not open to the public is boring in my opinion. If I see art and I can’t find a part of myself in it, it’s not interesting to me, so I don’t want to be that person. I want to be someone people can reach out to and identify with,” Huljev said.

After the opening of her exhibition “Liability” in the Keller Gallery, a second-year student of the PLNU went to Huljev. “She said, ‘I could relate to everything I was struggling with [with] since I was little, thank you’, and that made it kind of worthwhile. If people can relate to that, then I’m doing something right,” Huljev said.

“How do we make pieces and artwork that are so personal, yet so incredibly universal?” asked Gianna Tesone, a Minneapolis-based abstract painter and 2020 PLNU alumna.

Like Huljev, Tesone displayed her work in her senior art show at the Keller Gallery, entitled Selah. Tesone asks questions about the human condition and loves to explore neuroscience topics in her work.

“We all fight [and] All of our struggles look different, but what purpose do we all serve? To be seen and to feel heard and loved. I think that speaks a lot to art making,” Tesone said, “why that is [hypothetical] Work makes me feel something I can’t put into words?”

“I don’t need to know exactly what it is, but I know it was something beyond my understanding and my ability to put into words. I think that speaks to that need and desire to feel seen and understood. That’s definitely at the forefront of my creation,” Tesone said.

Tesone completed her bachelor’s degree in fine arts with some of the same professors that Huljev studied with. While she has learned much from PLNU’s art department, as a growing artist she has also learned to develop her own systems and techniques.

“Sometimes I had to put things, my writings, certain sketches, drawings on the wall right in front of me so I could visually see how my brain is working and thinking. It was a really cool process. That’s a big part of ideation — starting really messy, then starting to refine the details, and then connecting more from there,” Tesone said.

Huljev’s creative process is mostly internal.

“I think a lot; I’m a very confident person, or I try to be, and that just drives my creativity. Sometimes I keep a journal just to get my thoughts out. I think especially for the show I just had last semester, I sat down and started doodling and thinking about things that came to my mind,” Huljev said.

One of the pieces Huljev created but never really included in her exhibition was a sculpture of two ghostly figures attached to each other by strings, one running away from the other. This piece started out as a doodle from the psychology of attachment theory.

Tesone has begun to focus more on neuropsychological ideas in her art. “I’m really working on this idea of ​​neuroexpressionism, a way of taking the whole cognitive, neuropsychic, or neurobiological, or just [taking the idea of] ‘How is creativity processed by the brain?’ into abstract art,” Tesone said.

Originally interested in neuroscience because of her own concussions, Tesone found that understanding the brain and how it works ignited something in her. She notes that this love of neuroscience “comes from personal experience and just wanting to know more about why and how things work, it’s unraveling every day and I’m learning more and more… it’s an ongoing discovery,” Tesone said.

As a sprinter on the PLNU Track and Field Team from 2016-2020, Tesone learned mental tenacity and endurance. She said these were traits that would stay with her forever and would correlate with her life as an artist.

“If that doesn’t work, try a different approach. If you speak for both an art practice and an athletic career, you may need to optimize your diet. On the track, you may need to tweak your training or strength exercises if you’re not getting the results you want. Keep up. Do not stop. Do not give up. Use your critical thinking. Really understand why something is not working and find another solution. It has had a tremendous impact on my artistic process,” said Tesone.

A confident artistic voice takes time to develop, but confidence can look different for everyone. “I mean, I have imposter syndrome. I never think I’m a real artist or good enough, I just do what I do,” Huljev said.

Still, Huljev has found a lot of passion working on film sets and hopes to work in set design after graduating. “No matter what happens, it’s going to be a lot of work every day, but when I leave the set I almost feel reassured. When I drive home I think ‘Yes, that’s where I want to be,'” Huljev said.

Tesone is at her most passionate when creating work based on her present moment. Making time to walk, have conversations, and work in the studio helps Tesone to socialize and feel inspired. Tesone makes art that is deeply connected to her “why,” and she’s not afraid to showcase that part of herself to her audience.

“I don’t want everyone to associate with my art. There are some pieces that I don’t want certain people to understand. If everyone understood and loved it, then I don’t think it would be great art. It’s not intended for everyone. There are some pieces [where] I want it to upset you if that’s a reaction that needs to happen. Every artist wants to create a work that someone connects with, but if you don’t believe in it yourself, like if you don’t do it for yourself first, if it doesn’t come from the core of who you are, then how is anyone supposed to do it get in contact? I’ve really started to understand what my voice is as an artist, what my originality is as a creative, and that comes from personal experience,” Tesone said.

Ask any art student what they do after graduation, and you’re sure to hear an answer that demonstrates their bravery, authenticity, and vulnerability.

“I’m not necessarily afraid of it, but I know it’s going to be a lot harder to find a job and earn an income than someone who’s in nursing or in business, but that’s the life I have I chose and I’m fine with that because I’d rather do art and film than in an office because that’s just not me,” Huljev said.

“Yes, we fight. It’s expensive to make art, but if you think outside the box, if you really find your own ways to make it work, then I don’t think you’ll be living in any shortage. I think that was a mindset that was cultivated out of fear of what art might do,” Tesone said.

Two years after graduating, Tesone continues to develop artistically, athletically and philosophically.

“I’m an artist, what can’t I do?” Teson said.

More information about Isabella Juljev can be found on her website, and Instagram, @isabellajuljev_art

To follow Gianna Tesone’s work, visit her website, www.giannatesone.comand Instagram, @giantatesone

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