UNM art student opens his first solo gallery

Nora Vanski, a senior student at the University of New Mexico who has been studying studio arts, bent over herself, and painted with her guts for years. On Sunday, February 6, she opened her first solo exhibition, “Taking Pictures to Remember,” at the John Sommers Gallery, featuring photographs surrounding the gory hedonism of modern youth and the interplay of sex and violence. The posting will remain until Sunday, February 20.

Vanesky has been passionate about the inner workings of the human body and mind all her life. She believes that her art highlights the reality of the human being without holding anything back.

“For me, making art about guts and gore is a way of coming back to the fact that at the end of the day, that’s who we are,” Vanesky said. “Censorship sort of takes over things. It’s much less often that we see a real, visceral (track saying,) ‘This is what it means to be human.’

Vanesky began her creative career in photography and performance art and has since expanded her skills to include textile design, painting and digital media, drawing inspiration from artists such as Nan Goldin and Vito Acconci.

“When I look at art and think about art, the things that appeal to me are not the aesthetics but the way (art) makes me feel,” Vanesky said.

Student Jack Ambarian spent two and a half years on the UNM Model United Nations team with Vanesky and has followed his work since 2018, admiring the evolution of his art and drawing inspiration from his spontaneity and individuality.

“She’s a great character and she’s not forgettable. She’s one of those people who you know is going to do something big. She’s always seemed like one of those people who won’t just to do what everyone else is doing and it definitely shows in his work,” Ambarian said.

Vanesky attributes much of his desire to create to his memory and the resulting fear of losing his own life.

“I have a really horrible memory,” Vanesky said. “I desperately captured those moments that seemed truly fleeting.”

Ambarian met Vanesky when photography was her primary focus and took a particular interest in a series of photographs she took posing with dead bees humanely collected from keepers.

“She used to do photoshoots with bees, dead bees, and it almost got her in trouble,” Ambarian said. “Her art has always been a bit out there, and, from what I can tell, it seemed like she was one of the first to do this sort of thing.”

Vanesky had a lasting effect on Ambarian’s worldview and encouraged him to venture more in life.

“I’ve done a lot of personal growth since I met her, but one of the things I learned from her was to be more spontaneous, take more risks and think later,” Ambarian said. “Ask for forgiveness; don’t ask permission.

Vanesky eventually hopes to go to graduate school to further his studies in fine arts, but his immediate plan is to take time off from school to pursue fellowships with more established East Coast artists.

“It’s kind of taboo in the art world to go straight to graduate school after undergrad,” Vanesky said. “So even though (graduate school) is in my future and I desperately want to (attend it), at the moment my plans are to look for residencies, and I’m moving to New York to see if I can get my job. which is presented there.

Ambarian expects to see big hits from Vanesky and looks forward to seeing his work ahead.

“I’m very excited to see what she does,” Ambarian said. “If she goes to New York, she’s going to kill him.”

Vanesky is hosting a reception for “Taking Pictures to Remember” on Friday, February 11 at the John Sommers Gallery.

Natalie Jude is the culture editor of the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @natalaroni

Kayleen C. Rice