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Jieru Lin
I’m Nature

charcoal
40″ x 30″

@jierulinnnnn
USA

Clara Lieu, RISD Adjunct Professor

Clara Lieu

Art Prof & Partner

Casey Roonan, Comics Artist & Cartoonist

Casey Roonan

Cartoonist & Comics Artist

Deepti Menon, Filmmaker & Animator

Deepti Menon

Filmmaker & Animator

Artist Statement
“This is a drawing I made for my drawing course as a mid-term assignment. The assignment is to think about my relationship with nature. For me, I think human beings are part of nature and should be closer to nature as we are now.

I come from a big city so I don’t have a lot of chance to be around nature. In this drawing, I represent myself as part of nature and I’m trapped by city. I also imply global warming and tell people that if we still separate ourselves against nature, our world can be in danger.”

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Partial Video Transcript

Prof Lieu: “I think this is a really ambitious drawing. First of all, there is just so many components to it- so many aspects that are interacting in so many different ways. You have the figure, you have the tree, which is obviously got this physical connection with the figure, but then there is also this amazing space of architecture and building that is surrounding all of this.That is a lot to tackle all in one image! I think in that alone, is really impressive.”

Deepti: “I am really impressed by the amount of time you can tell the artist spent on this piece, thinking about it, working on it. I think that is something to congratulate the artist on.”

Casey: “Yes, because each element of this piece feels like it has an equal amount of attention paid to it. The tree is really well rendered, also just the elements of the figure and the different buildings. Everything has its own textures, and that is really exciting to see.”

Prof Lieu: “Yeah, I think especially what you said about texture is so important because when you have that many elements, it is easy to draw them all the same way. I feel like when I look at the tree, it really looks textured and stiff. When I look at the figure, it feels fleshy, and when I look at the architecture, it feels very rigid and geometric.

It has this really nice visual contrast in terms of the use of the charcoal in articulating the means of those textures. “

Deepti: “I am really enjoying the use of space in this piece as well. I think the artist is also taking a lot of time to think of the depth, and how to convey depth with focus.”

Prof Lieu: “The plant seems so aggressive, it seems like it is digging deep into the figure. I think in some ways, that is kind of contradictory to the artist statement, which talks about humankind being closer to nature and having a better relationship. I kind of feel like the opposite is happening in this piece.”

Casey: “I think one of the strengths of this piece is it does have one of these great senses of mood and tone. It feels almost like they were trying too hard to be dark and have these disturbing qualities. So there is like the hole through the figure’s chest, the tree going into the leg.”

Prof Lieu: “But not only that, the fact that the plant has broken the pot it is sitting in. That seems especially aggressive, I mean that is not usually something plants typically do. You really feel like the plant is not just an ordinary plant, but that it is more of a metaphor, that it is like a parasite kind of attacking that figure.

I guess another thing that I find a little bit confusing too is that the figures facial expression seems so nonchalant and calm in a way, which I don’t really understand given that the tree is so aggressive.”

Deepti: “Yeah, they also don’t really seem to be one. It seems like the tree is really aggressive and the figure is really passive, almost letting the tree win over or something like that. There seems to be a huge conflict between the two objects or figures.”

Prof Lieu: “Artist statements are so hard to write! I don’t know if you guys have written one in a while, but they are really challenging because I think often times you read the artist statement and it says one thing, and then you look at the image and feel that there isn’t much connection between it. I certainly think the drawing is about humans and nature- that comes across- it’’s just that the relationship is quite different than what is described in the artist statement.

In the artist statement, they all mention global warming- which I think is just a whole other tangent that is not really related. What I see a lot in student work is that people try and pack too many things into a single drawing. What I mean is, global warming, you could spend a whole decade making work on that, because it is such a big topic.

I guess what I would recommend is getting more specific, because even humans in nature is a little too broad- I think it needs to get a lot more specific than that.”

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3 responses on "Jieru Lin"

  1. There are so many gorgeous lights and darks in this piece that all play off each other so delicately. I sense that you’re pretty comfortable with charcoal and know which kinds of markmaking you’re looking for. I love the way you’re visually enmeshed within this landscape between the arbor and urban. I definitely get that sense of being tugged at by both, and being unsettled about where you belong. The buildings around you look somewhere in between protective and suffocating, but the tree holds the same kind of double edged comfort. The scene reminds me a little bit of the show Attack on Titan, because of the gargantuan, havoc wreaking forces at play.

    I wonder why there is a lack of depth in the face. It looks almost as if you were afraid to touch it. It fades into the same level of detail and tonal range as the buildings in the background. This could make for an interesting conceptual nudge if you wanted to go that direction. I feel troubled by the hole in the chest. From far away it seems like a gory hole of the heartless or soulless, but at a closer view, I notice the edges of leaves, and I feel more as if I’m gazing through a window. It feels peaceful. I think it’s worth exploring these kinds of contrasts in your work between tranquility and violence, chaos and balance. You have a wonderful sense of rhythm and composition that would highlight these foils well!

  2. This is a really ambitious piece! You have so many elements in this and it’s quite impressive. From the figure (which is already difficult to draw), to the nature/tree, and to the architectural aspects of the city. I love how bold you are with this.

    The leaves of the tree are very successful. There’s a certain textural quality that makes this really believable. I especially appreciate how you have the light shining through them.

    One thing I will say (and it was mentioned in the crit trio) is that there is a lot going on in this piece and I’m not exactly sure what the focal point is. Is it the tree, the face, etc.? By considering your strongest value points (dark to light) and your overall compositional shapes you can practically instruct the viewer where to go without even needing to tell the viewer. Simply put, you want to make sure you force us to look where you want us to look. It would also be really great to play up some of the nature mixing with the figure a bit more. Maybe the tree roots are wrapping around her entire body instead of just a few places on the legs/arms.

    Great work, and I love the ambition! Can’t wait to see what you produce next!

  3. For me, the most successful elements in this drawing are where you get a beautiful delicate touch! The face, the shadows on the leaves on the figures shoulder – it shows a great control as an artist to not overwork these areas. Some realms in contrast are a little over or underworked – we can almost see the areas that you cared the most about because they show great care and sensibility, but areas like the hand seem forgotten and need to be brought up to the level that the rest of the piece has reached.
    Conceptually I think you’re really at an interesting idea – the person growing too big, but then nature growing too big right back. I love how you’re softly showing the roots passing through the human, but some parts like the forested hole in the torso are a little too obvious I think. With both concept and technique, we can see a lot that you’re doing well in this piece, but there are those few points that need to meet up with the rest. For concept, don’t try to put too many visual messages in one image – find a way to keep it simple but show it strongly!

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