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With Figure Me Out, young artists introspect

by Keith Barber

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If art represents a way of working through our collective thoughts and emotions, Lena Jones and Anastassiya Popova have discovered the best way to channel that seemingly ininite energy source. Jones, a native of Kropotkin, Russia, recently moved into a new place and been forced to cope with living alone for the irst time.

“I’ve been having to face living by myself in isolation, so this is kind of like in a way focusing on that,” she said. “It’s kind of about being a female and feeling vulnerable, but at the same I’m kind of poking fun at feminism in some way.”

Six of Jones’ and Popova’s pieces are currently on display in the Figure Me Out exhibit at 5IVE & 40RTY gallery in Winston-Salem. The show runs through Feb. 6.

A native of Kazakhstan, Popova said she views her artwork as “ an exploration of my reality, a transformation of self within — my intent.” The reward comes from the artistic journey in Popova’s experience.

“Some never exactly know a kind of outcome they are going to reach in a painting when irst putting down few uneasy brushstrokes on canvas,” Popova, a recent Salem College graduate, said. “I choose to be one of these. My work has become an exploration a full spontaneous experiment.”

Jones, a UNCG senior, created her oil-on-canvas selfportrait by irst snapping her own photo while posing nude on the cold tile loor of her new apartment.

“It’s just hard dealing with being alone sometimes,” Jones said. “You’ll go to bars and surround yourself with people, but sometimes you get lost in that. Then one day, you end up on the loor thinking, ‘What am I doing to myself?’” Jones used the photo to create a sketch and that sketch eventually transformed into a 4-foot by 4-foot oil painting. Exploration of the female form appears to be the one constant in “Figure Me Out” for both Jones and Popova.

For her untitled self-portrait, Popova worked in three mediums — acrylic paint, charcoal and chalk. Like Jones, Popova worked from a photograph. She then manipulated the photo in Photoshop before printing it out on several pieces of paper to enlarge it to the same dimensions as the inished product. To tile the pieces back together, Popova used a grid, which is still clearly seen in the work. Popova transferred the Photoshop image to printmaking paper and added watercolor, charcoal and a few other mediums to create a haunting image.

“Perhaps there is this message of like a barrier between myself and the viewer,” she said. “When I was doing that initially, that’s what came through my mind. If you stand back you can barely see it, but when you come closer, it’s there.”

Jones’ lithography prints are yet another example of her multi-faceted approach to artistic expression. Jones’ untitled work comes from a photograph taken of a friend at a coffee shop, she said. The lithography process gives the drawing a cartoon-like effect, accentuating the more unattractive features of the female form.

Jones encouraged Popova to look very closely at her photo of a model perched on a stool to ind hidden colors. Popova heeded her friend’s advice. The result: the large untitled oil igural work that uses color in a surprising way.

“The body, in my opinion, tends to absorb as well as relect the colors of its surroundings, creating this seemingly simple, but yet complex unit of tonal shifts,” Jones said. “I ind this quite useful in providing ambiguity and interest within a simple composition.”

Jones said she prefers to work fast but Popova prefers a more measured pace in her creative endeavors. Ultimately both Jones and Popova have arrived at a inished product that is sure to impress art lovers in the Triad.

“There isn’t a recipe of how to do get to a place of pleased results,” Popova said. “For the most part its a long creative battle with many decisions.”

wanna go? 5IVE & 40RTY Gallery, 541-A Trade St., Winston-Salem, NC; 336.724.2474. The show runs through Feb. 6.

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