Reflection on Quarantine Art: Pt. 2

September 2, 2020

Quarantine gave the opportunity for people all over the world to practice their art. This includes students who study art at Millikin. But this doesn’t make it easy: in fact, senior Studio Art Major Nicole Casler had a lot of adjusting to do. Her most formidable problem? Having enough space.

“So I ended up taking a smaller sketchpad and going smaller for the very beginning until I managed to find a wall and with that smallness, that’s making little boxes and I started crying inside those boxes or inside those tiny lines, which was kind of like the feeling of I can’t leave my bedroom,” Casler said. “But for sculptures though, not necessarily it was more of a struggle, actually because I was working out of my garage that had my brother’s furniture because he moved back home. So there wasn’t much space until summer started to hit, where I really was able to finally take off and do things and work in an actual like space rather than, like, four foot by two foot.”

Casler worked on about ten drawings and six sculptures–seven if you count the one she didn’t like and threw away–over quarantine.

“I started making these things that were voids, in my opinion that had this empty space,” Casler said. “I wanted to build around empty space, nothing was controlling it, nothing was in it. And from there, I started doing more of my environmental studies and started making it into things a bit more. So they started looking more aquatic.”

Casler needs quite a bit of space so she can work with her current medium of choice: steam-bent wood.

“I worked really hard with [the woods], to get it to do what I want it to do without making it break,” Casler said. “Because what you have when you bend it with your hands is it turns very brittle.”

Steam-bent wood is very flexible when it is steamed, but once it dries, it can crack easily. This makes it difficult to work with in some ways because it takes deliberate concentration and a soft hand.

Her favorite sculpture is her Kingfish sculpture, that looks like a crown. 

Casler has minors in Entrepreneurship and Environmental studies. 

Studying the environment also impacts her current work. 

“When I first got out of high school, [studio art] was immediately what I wanted to do with my life,” Casler said. “And I did think about going to an art school…But I wanted a bit of a science background, which is where the environmental studies come in. And when doing that I accidentally started collecting credits for entrepreneurship. So I thought why not just add another one on, mom going in. The number one thing that I’ve always wanted to do was do interior interior design.”

She hopes to one day help make ecologically-friendly housing more affordable.

“I’m thinking more about architecture, focusing on environmental sustainability buildings that are not only environmentally friendly but also not super expensive,” Casler said. “So like the normal everyday worker can afford living in a home that actually isn’t awful for the environment that doesn’t, you know, use ridiculous amounts of energy. Use a ridiculous amount of water. Maybe you could grow plants on your roof.”

Casler is currently preparing for her senior show as she will graduate in December. She is looking on to see how to continue her work in meaningful ways in the future.

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