By Katie Webb
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Rarely can a person delve into the inner workings of a stranger’s mind, unless you’re a bartender or have a psychology degree. But gazing around Kat Deiner’s exhibit at FORM gallery, it’s as if you’ve entered the confines of an artist’s mind.
Deiner, a painting and art history double major, masked the walls with newsprint drawing paper, serving as her blank canvas. The windows are obscured with newspaper, as is the ceiling. The space has been transformed into an intimate exposé of Deiner’s own psyche.
The gallery space was already booked a few weeks prior to Deiner knowing what she would display. Her concept came to her while speaking with Professor Lee, a professor of painting.
“I think I had to stop thinking about an exact [theme]. I had to just start drawing. So it’s not really a theme with images, but just thoughts,” said Deiner.
After papering the walls, Deiner gave herself twenty-four hours to fill the room with sketches. Whatever crossed her mind in the moment manifested on the wall.
“I really wanted to do something with drawing because I feel like it never gets done enough. I also ended up choosing materials that usually people hate working with or they’re not as featured in actual shows, graphite and Conte crayon,” said Deiner.
She began working at 2 p.m. on Sunday evening. Staying up through the night, she allowed herself a two-hour rest and finished the work by 4 p.m. on Monday.
Deiner then stood before her expansive creation covered in charcoal smudges. A statuesque figure herself, Deiner’s sketches have an imposing, looming presence over viewers.
“I wanted to play with scale so I have the large hand holding the regular [sized] body, and then different parts of the body creating other parts [of another figure],” said Deiner.
The figures are abstractions of her own emotional state from one minute to the next. A massive figure shown from the back occupies the center of the main wall. Uneven shoulders, slightly hunched with tension, portray the anxiety that coursed through the artist as she pursued this massive undertaking. A zipper runs down the back, grooves stitched into the skin. Crumpled papers rupture through the figure’s fractured skull. Perhaps as evolutions of Deiner’s overwhelmed state came to light, her ideas erupted out of her, unable to remain inside any longer.
The relentless pressure provided a seemingly endless source of raw inspiration. One corner features a figure crawling on the ground. The image shifts from one stance to a lower attitude, movement conveying the figure’s defeated nature.
On the opposing side of the corner, a figure rests, one of the few serene characters in the room. The dormant figure’s bed is an enlarged hand, a use of scale that may reflect the artist herself: A few fellow artists aided Deiner in creating the space, giving her the chance to close her eyes momentarily. Perhaps the slumbering subject is the
embodiment of Deiner’s gratitude toward her comrades for lending a hand in the process.Though, her work is rarely so literal — each figure is thoughtfully sketched, then intricately layered, bleeding into other forms.
Inspired by Pablo Picasso, Deiner’s work is reminiscent of his distortions. Though the objects and figures are disproportionately scaled and unnatural in appearance, the essence of what is being reproduced is still intact.
The most intriguing question that arises whilst viewing the exhibit would have to be: Are the characters conceptualized self-portraits, or free form representations of fleeting feelings?
“It’s a self portrait in the way that it’s what I’m thinking and feeling, but the characters don’t necessarily have to be me. If I’m drawing a figure that’s angry I might exaggerate certain limbs to give it that feeling. So it’s not really my form anymore, but what I am feeling,” said Deiner.
Vulnerability and complexity travel through each graphite mark. Deiner’s work was shown on Nov. 11–15. For those who could not attend the event, the artist is still a junior, so one can only assume her senior show will have a concept equally as engaging.