Gabrielle Miceli

 

For a long time, I’ve grappled with the legitimacy of abstraction. I found that it was neither encouraged nor discouraged by the professors I encountered in my undergraduate career. It existed in this foggy in-between that I was never inclined to venture into. One day, while reviewing my work, my boss asked me, “Have you ever thought about why these abstract forms keep appearing in your work?” I never gave them a second thought. They were just sprinkles added to the figurative cake I was producing for my professors, nothing of significance. But her question forced me to look at them; look at their origins, look at the events that occurred around their creation, look at why they began to appear. I started to look inward and claw myself outward. Anxiety, imperfection, imposter syndrome—the myriad vines tangled together that I fought so hard to ignore in myself—were only unraveled with one thing: the translation of life through abstraction. What I found was that the process of creating these abstract forms was a response to my trauma and mental health challenges. It is through the meditative repetition of these forms and printmaking techniques that I have been able to process my thoughts and make sense of them, and make peace with them. Abstraction is the nutrition I needed to make the vines of my inner mind unravel, and printmaking is the vessel that articulates that unraveling. How these forms came to have so much importance to me, coupled with my inability to find similar forms in woodcut prints throughout history, was beyond me. So, I took it upon myself to crawl into that fog and capture this project as a way to challenge the historical absence of abstraction in chiaroscuro woodcuts. As I began to unravel this choking vine within myself, I was consistently challenged by how to successfully translate my abstract shapes through the planks of wood to which I had surrendered my inner world. My trepidation was married with excitement throughout this process, as I applied my hand and my mind to the creation of these shapes and the manifestation of my mind-vine into the physical world.

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