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Senior expands from paint to film

Larianne Thurman

Senior Larianne Thurman’s childhood was devoid of predictable art school obsessions. Raised in the small town of Willows, CA, she turned instead to her immediate surroundings, nature, for creative influence. Incorporating natural ideas and materials into her works has helped Thurman break free of that old painter’s dilemma, the flat rectangle.

“I like to push the paintings to see how much I can have them be a painting but also a sculpture, really just pushing the surface and the canvas literally to the breaking point, seeing what I can do to stretch it, to manipulate it,” Thurman said.

Drawings of nature, and painting in general, developed into a hobby in her formative years. Upon graduating high school, Thurman attended Cornish College of the Arts for one year. In search of a liberal arts education to accompany her art instruction, she transferred to Mills. She now develops her skills under the tutelage of Robin McDonnell and Samara Halperin, her favorite studio art professors. Her plan is to get her Master of Fine Arts and eventually become an art professor.

Thurman exhibits on occasion, but plans to keep her pieces to herself for the time being and make school the main focus. She will be included in the Art Department’s spring show, which she considers to be a jumping-off point for showcasing her work.

Of late, she’s tossed aside the canvas and began to consider the intricacies of film. One of her videos is comprised of jump cuts between shots of Thurman and another actor, to shots of dogs and cats and shots of people dressing and shaving.

The juxtapositions of images are meant to inspire contemplation on how habits of social propriety make humans increasingly more reserved; separating them from the animal she believes lies inherent.

“I’m interested in how humans cover up roots that are very much there,” Thurman said. “I think when people go to the movies, their minds shut off, as they’re only watching the story. I am more concerned with action and creating deep critical thought.”

Thurman cites video as a useful medium for “communicating a thought” with added depth and sees her paintings primarily as aesthetic representations of emotions. A recent video piece toys with the consistency in which people see sexuality as a subtext in her work.

“She pushes people to accept experimental video. She expects a lot from the audience and that’s how it should be,” Halperin said.

The fact that each work must succeed or fail as a painting or video precedes the fact that Thurman’s subject matter is the result of manifold consideration on the topic of animalism as an aspect of human nature. She came to this topic while people watching, and has a fascination with social interaction.

The works succeed without this knowledge, however. Thurman’s craftsmanship creates images that sear the mind’s eye but the added context compels even more. She offers additional clues by placing beeswax, feathers and silk into her pieces. This tactile element brings one closer to the work, creating a more visceral feel. She envisions her next work as a painting of a spider web, integrating earth materials.

Thurman describes painting as a selfish practice, something she does for herself. When not in a studio at Mills, she can be found in her home near Mills campus, surrounded by poems and Tibetan prayer flags that serve as decoration, assaulting the canvas and making something raw, animal, and essentially, human.