As soon as you walk into the Find Your Footing gallery exhibition, you are trying to find your own. Neda Kerendian, the artist, is straightforward with her goal: to look at the same basic form of this blurry hectic life, but to realize the need to stop and look around.
When asked why she’s an artist, Neda says that, “It’s what I’m most passionate about. I wake up every morning and go to the studio, and paint, and see what things do — how things interact. It’s what I enjoy the most. At the core of it, art is what I’m happiest doing. When I’m making works, paintings, installations… the act of making things with my hands is when I feel the most giddy. When I can make my ideas tangible… it’s the most amazing thing. I think everyone should feel that way. That they can wake up and do the thing that makes them happy. Something that brings them ease, versus doing that causes stress.”
You feel almost like you’re in a dream, a colorfully peaceful dream, when you’re looking at her paintings. She’s created a journey for viewers to follow — down the rabbit hole in a sense — starting with her larger canvases, into her wall of panels, Mixed Media collage, and then you find yourself floating in a daze until you go into her last exhibit, where light installations make you feel like you’re actually standing in one of her paintings.
When asked how she chose her subject matter, Kerendian reminisces over her childhood, “growing up on the 11th floor of a building with a busy street corner.” Her work is an attempt to recreate the blur that is the day-to-day in a busy city, and how the same scene never truly looks the same. She discusses this existence saying, “When you’re living in a city, you end up spending a lot of time in a car… I’m trying to capture this blur, this being lost within the mess of things, and not really being able to comprehend it.”
When you look at the pieces in her gallery, for a moment you feel lost. But it isn’t a “lost” that makes one feel alone, but one that forces you to take a second, take a breath, and take in the beauty. In her work, it is clear that she’s trying to embrace the beauty of imperfection, trying to work through her paint like one works through emotion. Every painting, though it might start with the same form, looks completely unique, and makes the viewer question their own emotional standpoint when looking at familiar scenes.
She want people to take away a certain positive energy from her work, “I hope that I can create a positive impact. Everyone’s stressed — it’s midterms. I hope people can take a break from the movement, from their crazy fast paced lives where we barely take a second to breathe. I hope that people can come to my gallery, and spend time with this stuff, and really take a look. I’m [not necessarily] looking for my audience to walk away with a certain idea, with a changed mind about something. I’m just hoping that people leave my gallery feeling better, more relaxed, and hopefully not as stressed out. Just enjoy walking within it — that’s what the whole city-thing is about. Is struggling with that calmness, and not getting carried away into the bustle. I guess that’s asking a lot, for people to not be stressed, but I hope I can help people check in.”
When I was walking through her gallery, I felt a similar feeling as I did walking through L’Orangerie in Paris, where Claude Monet’s Waterlilies are on display. He had a similar purpose with his paintings, to capture the same scene from different perspectives. I’m not trying to compare her to Monet; I’m merely relaying the purpose and gravity of her work that makes one feel in awe of her ability to capture all the raw and poetic emotion of a single instant.
She blushes when I tell her this, and brushes me off. Her explanation for the basis of her work is that she’s able, “to explore the motion of a city in a way that wouldn’t be possible with just one painting.” Where in truth, I think she’s doing more. She’s making us question what we see, from an emotional and artistic standpoint. She is bridging the gap between painting and sculpture, and allowing each viewer to have an individual experience of her city street corner.
Neda Kerendian is a second year transfer in Warren College, Studio Art Major with a Minor in Media. Her exhibit is open until tomorrow, January 29, 12pm-5pm, at the Kamill Gallery in Mandeville.