People as Muse - 'Forms and Faces' exhibition, Sophia Baraschi-Ehrlich '16 and Morgan Gruer '16: The two student artists find inspiration in human faces and bodies

Posted by Blair Warren

'Forms and Faces', an exhibition that took place in the Case Gallery from February 1 to 10, featured works by Sophia Baraschi-Ehrlich '16 and Morgan Gruer '16. The two student artists experimented with color and contour in their depictions of the human body and visage. When put together in one exhibition, their works had a natural fluidity while still being characteristic of their own personal styles.

 "I've developed a different type of painting style here than I had before, with more broken, straight out of the tube colors that are intense and in random places. I really like doing that now and I want to do it all the time," said Baraschi-Ehrlich.

Gruer agrees with Baraschi-Ehrlich when it comes to the innovative, freeing use of color.

Gruer added, "I don't always use the traditional color of a specific body, yet the color seems to belong there. Each body is so different. Even if you draw or paint the same model, it always turns out differently and you always learn something new."

Inspiration for these two student artists is found in the work of impressionists through their emphasis on light and color. They agree that their styles are not representative of this art period, yet they follow the impressionist idea of depiction not based on precision of reality but rather on essence, form and color - what can be noticed beneath the surface.

Baraschi-Ehrlich explained, "There's always something behind a face. With a painting, the painter is the one who interprets the personality or emotion of the person. It's like you have to create movement in one still image."

The way that a person's disposition and mood is reflected on his/her face is the inspiration behind both of their works. To Baraschi-Ehrlich and Gruer, it is not solely about capturing the person's features. It is instead about capturing their stresses, happiness, thoughts and feelings.

"Since both of our focuses are on the human body, people pretty directly inspire us. I sketch a lot of people, even if it isn't these dramatic paintings, like when I'm at home or on the subway. I always have my sketchbook and I'm always drawing people under my sunglasses. I focus on facial expressions and body language a lot. People just fascinate me," said Gruer.

Their works seem to emulate their words through the use of color and curve, giving life to the people they depict. When asked if they have any favorites, they hesitated. Thinking about it, they realized they do not have any favorites and would not want to.

Gruer explained, "An artist is so critical of his/her work. There are things I like and dislike in every piece. I may like one the most at the time, but it can easily change as soon as I make something new. I think this is good. I want to keep making more and never get stuck on something I like, because then I would never be satisfied. Nothing would live up to it."

Ensuring that creativity is central to both of their lives, Baraschi-Ehrlich and Gruer will continue creating art, exploring and expanding their skills.

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