Soraya Ferdman ’18 has always been an artist at heart. From a young age, she has enjoyed exploring the vibrancy of color and knew that her artistic interests were perhaps a little unorthodox. “I didn’t really want to play with dolls when I was little. I only wanted dolls to dip their hair in paint,” Ferdman said with a laugh.
This childlike wonder and creativity is still within her and she maintains an innocent perspective on her artwork. “A child doesn’t fill in a coloring book because someone will want it,” she said, “Art is a simple pleasure.” Much of her work is rooted in youthfulness and light-hearted tones.
She loves to incorporate humor into art, as it is an entrypoint into further questioning. “Art is important and serious, but I prefer mine be more lighthearted,” Ferdman said, “my ideas in art drift toward humor and the lighter side of struggle.” She noted that since much of art is two dimensional, it can be challenging to convey complex sentiments, but laughter is never an issue.
Ferdman utilizes art as both a way to alleviate stress and an activity that allows her curiosity to grow. When painting, she allows her mind to wander and speak directly to her paintbrush. “I paint for myself. I start with a piece of paper. Each color, each line begs the question of the next line.”
Her passion for knowledge is cultivated in her love of history. “I absolutely love looking at the world. Each time I close a book, I look at the world differently. I have a little more knowledge.” She was initially attracted to Brown through the University’s “simpler love of learning.”
Ferdman combines her passion for history and her love of art as the art director for the Brown Political Review. Her favorite illustration for the magazine was of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. She drew him out with splashes of color and then added computer screens around him with the names of various social media. One millennial was asking the senator about filters, as the illustration connected to an article regarding Booker’s expertise in making social media more dynamic in campaigns.
Yet, Ferdman’s favorite piece reflects the more serious side of her personality. “Not Laughing” showcases two comedians, Chris Rock and a man portraying a black face. “The contrast points to changes in culture, driven by changes in humor,” Ferdman said. As a history concentrator, she is interested in the ways and means of shifting cultural norms. “Instead of looking at laws, I like to look at changes in people--what they read, what they laugh at. It’s a more interesting approach to history.”
It is with this anthropological lens that allows Ferdman to explore her other creative outlet--poetry. Her writing takes a more introspective look into cultural changes, particularly regarding unreciprocated love, body expectations and anxiety. Ferdman endlessly questions and poetry provides her the perfect medium to think. “With poetry, I can articulate precisely with words,”she said, “I want writing to sound like a conversation.”
She added that she enjoys the specificity of writing and the way in which it enables her to draw upon her own shifting ideas. Although, her art still remains her most important creative outlet, as it gives her more control. “I enjoy the fact that art has other types of control. Visuals are more powerful, symbolic. They stay in people’s memories longer,” Ferdman said.
Yet, her creativity is only one side of her personality. “Being an artist is only brought to the forefront occasionally,” she said. Her passion for art is never lost though, and she continues to merge this hobby with her love of knowledge. “Art is like coloring your world. The world is more fun when you have more to think about.”