Veriche Blackwell is a student at University of Santa Cruz pursuing a double major in Art and Sociology. As an artist, sociological scholarship is her muse, and as a sociologist, her art practice serves as research. As a queer person of color, born to an immigrant single mother she learned firsthand how systems can constrict the composition of lives, how individuals are seen and shaped through social judgements. She’s interested in creative ways to fight back against monolithic institutions, ways to survive.
Her artwork unpacks the inner workings of our society in order to imagine and strive toward a more equitable and compassionate future. Her work looks at presence and absence, allowing the viewer to consider the role of the individual within a society - how and why individual experiences differ and coincide. In her artmaking and life in general she often refers back to this quote from sociologist Antonio Gramsci, “The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned. I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.”
My art-making is first and foremost an indulgence in my need to work with my hands and build things. There is something so magical about being in a shop or studio using all those big tools and loud machines and feeling the weight and balance of your material change as your piece progresses. It wasn’t until high school when I learned the beauty of concept and the endless ideas and associations you can conjure in your viewer’s brain with objects. From then on, art-making became a tool to help me sort through my own thoughts about the world as well as a platform for me to create discussion about whatever I feel strongly about.
My pieces included in Collective Solitude explore moments in our life in which feelings of loneliness, bold independence, desire for community, and inability to connect with community, for a variety of reasons, all collide. Sometimes these moments are easy to ignore and sometimes they are all encompassing and impossible to escape. Sometimes this messy tangle of emotions comes when you are sitting on the bus watching strangers you see on a daily basis, sometimes it comes when you are surrounded by people you technically know but not really, and sometimes it comes during a global pandemic. Either way, these moments often create incredible opportunities to ponder the intricacies of human interaction, to think critically about what it means to be a person with endless ties to other people, and to marvel at the inherent beauties and tragedies of the human condition.
The 2020 Irwin Scholars are
Aarón Martínez, Anastasia Oleson, Angel Gonzales, Chloe Murr, Dominic Ramirez, Edgar Cruz, Emma McWaid, Jocelyn Lee, Joshua Zupan, Morgan Tomfohr, Natalie Del Castillo, Rodrigo Ramos, Veriche Blackwell