May 7, 2020
2020 Senior Thesis Exhibition
Spring Online Virtual Exhibition
Opening May 9 at www.ArtsUMA.com
Charles Danforth Gallery
Jewett Hall, University of Maine at Augusta
August 31st – October 2nd, 2020
“Art is about seeking truths that we tend to ignore.” -Becky Pass
Augusta – Colorful illustrations, lines, shapes, and figures fill the linen blankets that make up the work of Becky Pass, a graduating art student at the University of Maine at Augusta exhibiting her work in the 2020 Senior Thesis Exhibition. Becky, along with four other seniors, has spent months creating a body of work that addresses the complex nature of mental health and the ability to heal.
Pass explains that the goal of her work was to abstractly illustrate her struggle with mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD and how she has tried to heal and cope: “the creative process changed in many ways in how I wanted to convey my message. The choice of an abstract style is attributed to the chaotic nature and uncertainties that mental illness provides. I wanted to also represent how it isn’t just an “invisible disease;” it encompasses not only ourselves but the world around us. I did this by incorporating imagery of biological elements such as neurons and brain structure.”
Pass has explored similar themes of mental illness and her experiences in past works, primarily working in painting and drawing. She wanted to continue with these themes for her thesis, creating loose representations of herself while incorporating mixed media painting and drawing. “I created my faces to have contemplative expressions,” the artist explains. “Mindful meditative practices have been key to my coping with mental illness.”
Pass’s works are often painted and drawn on linen bath blankets. She explains her use of the blankets, “the choice to use linen bath blankets as canvas is done ironically; instead of a security blanket I have dubbed them my “insecurity blankets”, because my work is me pouring out those insecurities that I am faced with every day.” Her linen blanket works range in size from around three feet to five on a side and are drawn and painted in mixed media consisting of acrylic, ink, marker, pastels, and charcoal.
Pass looks to many other contemporary artists for inspiration such as Trenton Doyle Hancock, Elly Smallwood, and 20th Century Surrealists such as Frida Khalo and Salvador Dali. Her front yard was also an inspiration for creating the tree in “Lament,” a roughly 28x29” piece incorporating mixed media.
Interested in shape, line, and color, Pass creates artworks from her own personal narratives, yet her works resonate with others who also suffer from mental illness. “I’m not an advocate for mental health, but I wanted to convey to others that even though we may feel broken some days that there is still hope out there and opportunities for help and growth. Art has always been my saving grace and I wanted to tell my story. I didn’t want to be afraid anymore.”
Becky Pass has been part of previous student group shows at UMA in 2018 and 2019, as well as student group shows at the Maine College of Art in Portland in the mid-2000s. At UMA, Pass has received awards for her work in photography, drawing, and sculpture and was awarded the Michael Woods Memorial Scholarship in 2019.
The 2020 Senior Thesis Exhibition for the spring semester will be held virtually (all online) on the Danforth Gallery’s website: www.ArtsUMA.com and will be followed in the fall by an exhibition in the Charles Danforth Gallery on UMA’s Augusta Campus in Jewett Hall. The dates for the fall show will run from August 31st to October 2nd, 2020.
More of Becky’s work can be found on social media: Instagram: @BeckyPassArt, Facebook: facebook.com/BeckyPassArt, and her website at BeckyPassArt.com.