If I am an artist, it is only because I ask questions. I ask incessant questions. If I am an artist, it is only because of the nonsensical nature of the society I live in.
In my work, I examine the human condition by taking aspects of my own identity and examining them in a larger socio-cultural context using traditional and nontraditional forms of print, performance, and installation. It is important for us to divorce the human condition from cultural conditioning, so I push the borders of my viewers comfortability in order to encourage them to question the inception of their discomfort. I believe it is through questioning that we begin to break down the accepted “truths” of our society.
In the words of Rumi, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” By turning inwards and making work to address what I find there, I am pulling inspiration directly from my cultural conditioning and my condition of being. The unabridged questions I ask myself are accessible to my audience because we share a culture (on some scale) and are all suffering from the human condition. The raw, confessional nature of my work lessens the feelings of terrible dissociation and isolation which come inevitably as a side effect of being trapped in a human body.
Body itself is a highly significant factor in my artistic practice. If I can relate to a human being on no other level, we still share the experience of having a human body. It is a necessary tool for action and vessel for the soul. As a cultural icon, it holds heavy allusions to self-image and sexuality. In performances, I use my body as a prototypical form so viewers may “insert your body here,” allowing them to further empathize with the conditions the body endures over an allotted span of time. I often work on large scales and in real space to allow myself to be physically (and therefore, spiritually) involved. I make body prints in a variety of media, both two- and three-dimensionally. Discomfort itself is a bodily sensation. My challenge as a maker is to simultaneously capitalize on the uncomfortable and provide my viewers a space where they may remove themselves one step from discomfort to ask “why?”
Raven Lynn Zeh is a printmaker, body, and performance artist from the small town of Worthington, Massachusetts. She started at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Massachusetts at sixteen, graduating with her Associate’s Degree in Visual Art in 2014. The following fall, she transferred to Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine to major in printmaking. Raven Lynn is now a senior, on track to graduate with her Bachelor of Fine Art in the spring of 2016. Her group exhibitions include Prints of Love, a Valentine’s pop-up show, and her performances Don’t Censor Me, her stand against the stigma of the female form. After graduation and establishing herself as an artist, she hopes to travel the country teaching print techniques, doing performances, and selling her work.