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Sophia Gao

“A Wade Through The Endless Sea”

Artist Statement

       “A Wade Through The Endless Sea” is a watercolor painting on roughly 10”x15” paper. It depicts an ambiguous long-haired blue figure whose back is turned away from the viewer. They clutch a staff in their right hand. Bright red-orange blood seeps from cracks all over their body into the sea of liquid surrounding them. The background includes a gradient of dark clouds that begins to resemble blood as the background meets the foreground. The clouds are seemingly disrupted by beams of vibrant blue light from the top right. The piece went through roughly four or five structural overhauls before the final artwork was painted.

       The piece incorporates elements and themes of two separate digital sketches. The first has a figure turn their back toward the viewer in a dark bedroom. Blood runs down from cracks on their back. This was meant to illustrate both my depression and the pain I chronically experience, which is often at its strongest in the morning. The second piece portrays a tiny hunched-over figure in an equally tiny row boat. They are surrounded by a turbulent red sea below and large dark clouds above. In addition to depression, this sketch illustrated the isolation I often felt. The sketches were combined to create a statue-esque figure surrounded by a sea of blood. Soon after, I changed the figure to be more humanoid, more reminiscent of my first sketch.

       Having established the big ideas my artwork would be of, I attempted to paint with watercolor. While testing out techniques to be used in my final artwork, I felt as though something was missing from the piece. Upon reflection, I realized that I did have people there to help me. My life was more than my depression. The staff and the beam of light were painted in to represent this new insight.

       This painting would not have been possible without the Creative Art Microgrant. It gave me a sense of security in exploring art mediums outside my comfort zone. The time spent was also an opportunity to consider and express my mental health where words would normally fail. Ultimately, however, “A Wade Through The Endless Sea” is left ambiguous for the viewer to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings.

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