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Visual Art

Robin Yeh ‘20: Dimensions of Summer Through Art

Project Date:
Project Date: Summer 2020

A visual arts series based on my experience during the difference stages of 2020 through different media.

About the Project

The Benenson Award has allowed me to use a variety of media in response to different phases of my summer across North Carolina and New York. My project stratified layers of my quarantine experience. From Durham’s stay-at-home order and quarantining with my roommates in the midst of Tiger King, DIY cocktails, and graduating from college, to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and returning to my parents in Cuomo’s strict lockdown as the state’s coronavirus cases declined. I experimented with lights and acrylic sheets, water-based acrylic paints, collaging with weekly The New Yorker magazines, and sketch markers alongside my traditional oil paints.

“Tipsy Kitty”

“Tipsy Kitty” is a bar sign-styled piece using electroluminescent wire on a 24X48” sheet of acrylic. I designed a line drawing of an upside down martini glass dripping onto a Maneki-neko silhouette. The Maneki-neko cat is believed to bring good luck, and my idea for this sculpture came at the beginning of quarantine when we were all naive and optimistic about the severity of the pandemic and just having fun finishing up the semester.

“Bored in the House and I’m in the House Bored” is my 30X40” oil painting suggesting my friend laying in bed, bored. I was inspired by Alex Prager’s photos of Julia Garner titled “Modern Living.” I wanted the painting to feature choppy, disjointed body parts representing how I felt when I moved back home under a strict stay-at-home order. I wanted to convey feelings of dissociation and hopelessness.

“Sorry” and “Yum” are collages made from my mom’s art magazine collection from the 1980’s and 1990’s, old catalogs, and clippings from my 6-month New Yorker trial subscription this year. They were more of a stream-of-consciousness and reacting to the headlines, articles, and pictures I was flipping through.

“Quarantine Doodles” is a mini series conceptualizing my daydreams. I used bright colors and markers to make these illustrations. I found that I resonated with this cartoon-y style the most and had the most fun making these pieces.

Lastly, “Things That Make Me Happy 1” is an acrylic painting done in a style inspired by Teddi Parker. Inexperienced in acrylic paint, this was my attempt at quick-drying painting. I worked in quick layers and painted things that made me happy. I’m planning to continue this series with the next painting featuring a bottle of whiskey next to an old fashioned.

Reflecting on Art Amidst Covid-19

Support from the Benenson allowed me explore outside of my comfort zone and experiment with media that I normally don’t have the liberty of trying. I was able to try new things on my “art bucket list,” like illustrations and light sculptures. I think the pandemic and quarantine has helped me come closer to finding the styles and materials that resonate with me the most. Being able to practice different media and new skills have helped me improve as an artist.