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Finding yourself through art

April 5, 2019
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Fishman presents her work in Buenos Aires. Photo credit: Jordyn Fishman

ANN ARBOR—When Stamps School of Art and Design senior Jordyn Fishman embarked on her artist’s residency in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she didn’t know she’d be there at an interesting time for the country.

“I was there while the Aborto Legal movement was unfolding,” the painter said. “Abortion is illegal there. There were marches everyday for the legalization of safe abortion, which ultimately didn’t get passed.”

Fishman, whose art centers on women’s issues and sexual violence, was particularly moved by the marches, which spanned miles of Argentina’s largest metropolis. Months later, she still keeps a green bandana tied to her backpack to remind her of the movement.

“Having these experiences and talking to the artists involved in the movement definitely added strength to my own work in women’s issues,” she said. “My work approached sexual violence through the lens of ‘you against yourself,’ and how external experiences are internalized as individual struggle.”

The University of Michigan’s Stamps School requires all undergraduate students to take a course outside the United States. Fishman was looking for opportunities when she came across an artist residency program called R.A.R.O.

“I decided to make my own proposal and applied for the residency with R.A.R.O., which means ‘strange’ or ‘weird’ in Spanish,” she said.

With R.A.R.O.’s help, Fishman works on her painting in the studio. Photo credit: Jordyn Fishman

R.A.R.O. is run by a specialized executive board of people from different backgrounds. While one can help artists like Fishman find housing and studio space, another helps with conceptual and artistic challenges.

The residency gave Fishman ideas to experiment with new mediums. Her proposed project was a series of paintings, which she cut and manipulated into an animation. Her residency took her to three different studios over the course of her time in Buenos Aires.

“The animation and sound engineering was definitely a learning curve,” Fishman said. “Thirty seconds of animation took eight hours or more to make. Animating was also really difficult because I’m all over the place when I work, so making a chronology was hard. All of my paintings are narrative-based, and it was really cool to see that come with a time element.”

More than anything, Fishman’s residency abroad gave her the time and mentorship to learn about herself as an artist.

“It forced me to really look at myself in the mirror,” she said. “It’s hard to be vulnerable in your art, but that’s what art is about.”

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