Inspiration in the arbitrary

Anya Mielniczek’s exhibit uses an assortment of materials including beer bottle caps

Anya Mielniczek’s In the Grain displays six groups of longboards she built herself.
Anya Mielniczek’s In the Grain displays six groups of longboards she built herself.

In the hustle and bustle of student life, we rarely pause to think about where we can encounter art. But for Anya Mielniczek, the artist behind Union Gallery’s exhibit In the Grain, art can be found in the arbitrary.

“Be it mark making, layering or the history in a scrap candy wrapper or worn beer bottle cap, I like the character, touch, feel or soul history may give an inanimate object,” Mielniczek, BFA ’12, wrote in her artist statement for the show.

In the Grain is currently being showcased in the Project Room of Union Gallery and features six groups of longboard decks, which Mielniczek made herself.

Mielniczek’s work illustrates how regular, mundane objects can be made beautiful, and the longboards are more than they initially appear. Far from simple, on closer examination the longboards’ varying designs are impressively intricate and resonate in your mind.

The shapes of the longboards vary — some have rounded edges, while others have sharper points. The designs on the boards also range from simple lines and shapes to a more abstract mixture of blended forms and colour.

Mielniczek makes use of a wide array of materials, including spray paint, marker, crayon, graphite and even beer bottle caps.

One of the groupings of boards No Logo was made from burning the simple anchor, leaf and triangle designs into the longboards. Queens, on the other hand, utilizes gold spray paint for a similarly simplistic feel, but nonetheless absorbing visual effect.

Brain Child is a work of mixed media and perhaps the most unique of Mielniczek’s sets. Along with graphite and varnish lines, beer bottle caps are sprinkled throughout the boards. When glancing at the longboards in the piece, the graphite and varnish form the shapes of several eyes staring back at you, with mouths sneering as well. Albeit a tad disturbing, the design’s allure cannot be denied — it’s difficult to look away.

How Harry Met Sally may simply rely on pen and marker, but has extensively detailed orange, turquoise and purple designs, evoking an island feel. Mielniczek doesn’t shy away from colour in Aftermath either, with yellow, blue and green lines illustrated with acrylic, crayon and marker. Critically Endangered Tiger, Gorilla, Leopard uses graphite and marker, with bursts of orange, brown and yellow.

Mielniczek’s artwork doesn’t just aesthetically appeal, though. While the presence of six groups of longboards might be interpreted as a tad arbitrary, Mielniczek uses longboards as a way of creating earth-conscious art. Through recycling all her materials, she aims to raise debate beyond the artwork.

“I’m interested in addressing issues concerning the environment and our relationship with it and through this, aim to provide a critical context to examine commentary on consumerism and sustainability,” she said in her artist statement.

In the Grain is at Union Gallery until March 20.

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