Drawing Redefined

Stanford University


Drawing as an art has existed since the beginning of human existence. Using the age old media of charcoal and paper, challenge the definition of "drawing", "portraits", "landscapes" and other traditional labels.

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The following select pieces were done as part of my Studio Art minor at Stanford University, and illustrate my explorations in redefining "drawing."

What is "drawing"?

Diane Arbus is a piece that challenges the labels that define and limit our concept of art - "drawing", "print", "collage" for example. A traditional drawing typically entails strokes, but in this case, the portrait of the famous photographer is formed by drawing clusters of pixels like a magnified newsprint. By staggering the subject's face rather than simply depicting it as is, the drawing becomes not an immitation of print, but rather a drawing that illustrates the versatility of the medium.

Diane Arbus. Charcoal on paper. 24" x 24".

Drawing as a Verb

Taking inspiration from artist Jim Dine, who drew larger-than-life charcoal drawings on walls, this excercise focuses on "drawing" as a verb.

The studio was set up so that students stood facing the walls of the room, each with their own large paper measuring 6 foot tall by 4 foot wide. Like a regular life-drawing class, the students were asked to draw several timed portraits using the person to the left of them as their model, except everyone was drawing and moving at the same time.

The scale of the drawing, urgeny created by the time constraint, and constant movements of the subject as well as artists, heightened the intensity of drawing, creating an intimacy between the artist, the charcoal, and the paper. Drawing was no longer a noun, a deliverable. The complexity of the process - from the eye's perception, to the mind's interpretation, to the entire body's execution- required the artists to be fully immersed. The resulting artifact can be seen as a snapshot of the artist's mind and body, as much as it is of the subject being drawn.

Large scale life drawing. Charcoal on paper. 6' x 4'.

Redefining "Map"

The brief for this excercise was to create a map of the Stanford campus. Traditionally, "map" is an objective reference that represented the literal physical landscape of a place, including identifiable markers and established roads. In this drawing, the map is purely subjective. Standing on the Stanford campus near the Student Union, I illustrate the cross-section views of the landscape as seen at my knee, waist, and eye levels. The straight lines highlight my lines of sight standing at significant points on campus. The result is a drawing whose organic lines draw reference topography maps, but in fact captures the unique physical experience of the campus seen through my perspective, and the landscape as it relates to me as an individual.

Mapping the Stanford Campus at Knee, Waist, and Eye Level. Charcoal on Paper. 36" x 90."

Mapping the Body

This series of mixed-media drawings explore the theme of mapping the body. Taking inspiration from traditional Chinese acupuncture diagrams, these outline drawings superimpose internal acupuncture points onto the human body, marked by metal pins protruding from the charcoal portraits of the subjects in action. Red thread connecting the pins create links between different parts of the composition, suggesting a relationship between different parts of the body, between subject and objects, and amongst different subjects.

The unexpected juxtapositions in the drawings - the subjects' external outlines layered wtih the internal pressure points, the two dimensional drawings punctured by three dimensional elements, and accupuncture diagrams depicted in context of the subject's environment - create a dynamism in the drawings that heightens the viewers' curiosity about the human body and human relationships.

Ballerina. Charcoal on paper, foam core, pins, thread. 36" x 27" (left: front; right: angle).
Kennedy. Charcoal on paper, foam core, pins, thread. 27" x 36" (top: front; bottom: angle).
Soldiers. Charcoal on paper, foam core, pins, thread. 27" x 36" (top: front; bottom: angle).