The Renegade Rip

COLUMN: Local art can be a breath of fresh air

Martin Chang, Opinions and Features editor

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It’s always about a month before the semester ends that the stresses of school seem to pile up, and wherever you can find something to help you get through it is a blessing.  I found that something right here on campus.

Adel Shafik, a graphic arts professor at Bakersfield College, had a collection of pieces at the art gallery in the library, and he said his work is “a combination of images from NASA, personal observation and imagination.” He means for his work to “deal with color, texture and light in space.” When I walked into the gallery to kill some time, I was tired and stressed after a long day of working on The Rip. Then I saw Shafik’s work and the smooth colors stood out to me and I really began to look at his pieces and forget my stress.

Shafik wisely used the encaustic medium for work. Encaustic uses a mix of pigment, beeswax and tree sap resin to create a natural, organic feeling. Shafik really lets the medium speak for itself. His piece “Landscape 2012” was the first piece I saw. There’s not a lot to the piece. It’s two strokes of purple, with some blue sandwiched in between and some orange on the bottom. Yet, in its simplicity is where the beauty of the piece lies. The strokes of color give enough of an idea of a landscape, but at the same time you can see the natural ingredients used in encaustic flow over each other and the way the colors mix makes it feel real. I was reminded of sand, the ocean and the sky looking at his pieces.

The way Shafik uses encaustic makes the medium feel a bit uncontrollable. The orange splashes in “Landscape 2012,” the way the shades of purple mix and overlap in “Portrait of Space 2,” the colors in those pieces sing out because Shafik let it sing. He doesn’t seem worried about perfection. He just lets the texture and colors happen.  “Sunrise, 2012” is my favorite piece he showed at the gallery. His careful texture work on the sky and the hills gives the piece a vibrant feeling.

The effect of his work gave me some quiet and some peace. For the moments I was studying his pieces, I wasn’t worried about my deadlines or my other classes. I was just enjoying some art.

Seeing Shafik’s pieces was not a life-changing event for me, yet I was thankful for the gift it brought me. I didn’t need to see a masterpiece or hear a mind-expanding song; I just needed something soothing to relax me a little. Shafik provided that with his portraits of nature, and I’m glad BC gave him a venue to show his work.

I encourage students here to just take a walk in the gallery when you have time. It only takes a few minutes and you may find something you like.

You don’t have to be an art major to appreciate art. Whether you admire the craft of a piece, or simply find things like Cameron Brain’s giant statues of angry cherries funny, it is worth taking a few minutes to maybe forget your problems and learn something about yourself.

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COLUMN: Local art can be a breath of fresh air