PHOTOS + STORY BY ISABELLE EDWARDS
“I’m extremely passionate about shapes,” Sydney says, absentmindedly running her fingers across the screen of her iPad. “If I don’t use a pure circle or triangle or line, and abstract it in some way, then the piece of art that I create doesn’t feel right.” We are sitting in Prince Lab, in Barus and Holley, a place where Sydney frequently comes to draw despite it being the workplace of engineers. As she speaks, her hands whirl, and the geometric rings adorning her fingers create shapes in the space in front of her.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Sydney grew up dancing ballet, even spending some time with a pre-professional ballet company. It was the dance form’s emphasis on body movement, technique, and form, which fostered her initial interest in creating abstract art. Ballet made her conscious of the ways in which she could create fresh emotive material- different from her early work with representational drawing.
Now, Sydney translates how she is feeling at any given moment into works of digital art. By combining bright colors and organic shapes to create abstracted images, she produces work that is left open to interpretation. Her passion to create stems from a desire to depict things as they feel as opposed to how they physically look. “I see an object or think about an idea, and [then] see [whether] I can make it unique or abstract through different forms or shapes.”
Primarily using her iPad and a stylus pen, Sydney feels that digital media is the most organic way for her to translate her thoughts and feelings into art almost as soon as they strike her. Much of her work is inspired by Brooklyn, and the beauty of the city streets and diverse population often find their way into her art. Some of that urban intuition also guides her process. Asked how she knows when a piece of work is done, Sydney explains,”I think it’s when I feel I’ve fully put everything into the piece of art and that there’s nothing more that I can possibly add.” This assuredness is embodied by her flitting shapes and gamboling lines of color. Sydney may not be physically dancing, but her movement is still there.
Will you tell me about yourself your work and artwork?
So my name is Sydney, I’m from New York. Brooklyn, specifically; I love Brooklyn, like with a passion. So my work, I consider my work to be very…abstract and colorful and I can’t really describe my work in one word per say, it’s more like what I feel and then what I feel is translated into the shapes I draw and what I design on paper. So I don’t really have a specific style of work but it’s more of just what I’m feeling and how that can affect what I draw and what I create.
When did you start making art?
I started making art when I was very young. My Dad is very passionate about art and he would paint when I was growing up. And also my uncle went to Pratt architecture school so he’d teach me how to draw buildings. I’d try to draw buildings and they didn’t come out that great (laughs), but I’d try. I guess also my Mom used to take me to art classes when I was growing up. Pratt is really close to where I live so I used to take drawing classes and painting classes. Really just dabbling around in stuff.
What is your creative process? Walk me through the process of one of your works and how you go about going from mind to the physical.
So, hm…how I go from the mind to the physical [creation of something]. I guess, usually, when I see something I’m inspired by the form of objects and it’s less about…how do I describe this?…exactly physically describing an object. Most of my work is extremely abstract. So like, when I see something I just think of how I can use, specifically shapes, - I’m very passionate about shapes - and also just like, form, to make it abstract and not so literal. So that would be my process…to see an object, or think about an idea, and see how I can make it unique or abstract through different forms or shapes.
What do you hope to achieve with your art? Is there any specific reason why you create? Is there a bigger reason why you create?
Honestly, I guess drawing and painting and just creating art and dancing…I feel like I’ve always had this other side to me. I’m also into biology and so for me art is just…and also dance as well…a lot of my art is inspired by ballet as well. I grew up dancing ballet and was also in a pre-professional ballet company. So just seeing form figures and stuff, that’s just inspired me to create abstract art. I wouldn’t say that I really have a reason for why I create art, it’s more of a form of expression for me. And, if I can create a work of art that can inspire anyone in any way then that’s just really meaningful to me. It’s less about making it for a particular reason and more of just, sort of, creating something, producing something and maybe eliciting a certain response or emotion in someone. My work is very colorful and bright and, again, not so literal, more of like, what I’m feeling, and I just transfer that to my computer or iPad.
How do you know when a work for you is completed or finished? Especially since it’s so based in feelings and colors and shapes.
That’s very interesting. When a piece of work is done….I think it’s when I feel I’ve fully put everything into the piece of art work and there’s nothing else that I can possibly add to make it that much more better or that much more…that kind of effected in another way. When a work of art is done for me it’s more of feeling like it’s complete. Like this is it. I can’t add another stroke or another color to this art work, it’s just like done. And when I feel good about it is when I think this art work is done for me.
Do you have any big projects in mind or do you work with a project in mind or do you just do what comes to you? Planned or whenever it strikes you type thing?
It’s a whenever-it-strikes-me type thing, but recently, over the past two years I’ve gotten really interested in the design field. I’m a part of a Brown and RISD Design for American team, so I guess in that way it’s been really interesting for me to apply my creative thinking process to real life problems and solving things on campus and stuff. I don’t really have a big project that I’m working on but it’s more of just potentially going into a design field or maybe even a bio tech design field, and using my creative thinking and also my design process in that way.
Is there anything that you feel like you want to add?
Two things: well, I honestly love Brooklyn so much and I have these two pieces of art work…I produce a lot of art that sort of is related to Brooklyn and the culture and stuff. I love Brooklyn a lot because it’s very diverse. Just being around a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of different…people who think different ways….And living in an apartment building and seeing lots of things outside and around me and in parks, I think has really influenced my art work. The forms I’ve used and the shapes I’ve used.