2022 Graduation Portfolio Exhibition
My name is Stephen Wisebaker, aka Iche. I am originally from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY and now live in Dayton, OH. I like to be able to control my life, but it doesn't always turn out that way. I use art as a creative outlet and to manage my mental health. My working process comes from my desire to find comfort and order in chaos.
I am a mixed media artist working with pencils, pens, pastels, paints, and inks. I begin my artwork using automatic process such as decalcomania, a technique of transferring splattered ink from one sheet of paper to another. Next, I try to impose structure on these spontaneously created surfaces by adding triangles, lots of circular motions, vibrant colors, and heavy textures. In this way, my art becomes a diary of my life.
My artwork represents illusions of reality like our own. I shift that reality through each art piece depending on the mood I am going for. I often close my eyes, escape to that small place in my mind, and explore these weird ideas that I try to capture in my artworks. I have found that I do not always have control of the world around me and I take great comfort in what I can control. Similar to an Orchestra, I conduct the lines, colors, scale, mood, patterns, and so much more in a piece as an artist.
Within my artwork, I use characters primarily to be viewed as shape and pattern within the composition. Those characters also lend themselves to an open-ended narrative for my audience to interpret. Despite the horrible truths that can be encountered in our reality, I like to create vibrant escapes to put minds at ease when viewing my work. My artwork is primarily very cheerful, but occasionally ventures into a darker theme. My palette is almost typically saturated and fun. The lines I create explore different textures and rhythm within my work. I open my art with bright colors and happy characters to give an escape to the grey world we live in. I hope my art can give a bright moment to people having a bad day.
I’ve always gravitated towards drawing portraits of people. There are countless
stories that can be told just through the figure or a person's face. Each person carries
themselves and their emotions differently, I could spend countless hours studying them.
Drawing portraits means I get to highlight and appreciate different facial features. I’ve also
learned how sad a person can look without even seeing their face, just the back of their
head and an arm can appear lonely.
Charcoal has also worked its way into my heart. I feel I can get the lightest and most
saturated expressions with charcoal. I often find myself mindlessly grinding it into the
background of my pieces, alleviating any stress. No matter how many times this versatile
medium stains my carpets and fingernails, I’ll keep reaching for it whenever I make
This body of work is made up of exaggerated self-portraits that look at the body in close up sections, highlighting flaws, and making colors much brighter than they are in real life. This project was brought about by the pandemic. Being stuck at home, I became my own model, and I could not look at my whole body and draw or paint unless it was from a photo. The photos would erase a lot of the detail, so I decided to focus on specific pieces of my anatomy at a time. Also, having a pin-point view on an area made it easier to include every detail that I may have felt ashamed or embarrassed to include, like zits or body hair.
The reason I chose to highlight flaws like stretch marks, pimples, and body hair is that they became fun to draw. All through this process, I had to stare at my own body, and it was hard to do because the only times I would do something like that before was when I was feeling self-conscious and hyper focusing on everything I thought was wrong with myself. Doing this changed the association I had with looking at myself that way from degrading to empowering. Using myself as a model started out of the pandemic for lack of other people to draw, but without that being the case, this project would not have happened. For example, I do not think I could ask anyone else if they would model their armpit for me. I am the only person I would be able to draw so critically and be able to examine so intimately and the project benefitted from it.
I like to use bright colors, so I exaggerated all the different shades I could see in my skin tone and added a darker background when needed. This led to the pieces all having a warm color scheme with dark blue incorporated. In the piece, “Up Close and Personal,” I used markers and the illustrations are much more detailed; for this reason, I included some detail images. For the rest of the pieces I used acrylic paint, so the mark making is active and more visible. It ends up making a contrast between the drawings, and the paintings you can tell are painted. Although it is in different ways, they are still connected through layering of color, visible mark making, attention to light effects, and heightened naturalism.