* Honorable Mention: Benjamin Wang – Crystallization

Artist: Benjamin Wang
Title: Crystallization
Media: ink fineliner
Grade: 11th
School: Head-Royce Upper School
Teacher: Artwork created independently

I titled this work “Crystallization.” To create it, I started with a pencil sketch to create a basic layout, then used Micron 005, 003, 05, and 03 size fineliners to do the shading. I did not use references in creating this piece: the elements and composition are all from my imagination. I want this piece to “reflect” how our inclination to force our experiences to fit into our framework of understanding obscures and eventually erases something’s true nature. One’s understanding and ideas themselves are like reflections on a body of water: they show the reflection of a subject, but reflections are never perfect and are easily distorted. When I have a new experience, I tend to frame the new experience within the context of what I already know. I do this even if this novel thing does not logically fit into the framework of my accumulated experience. This tendency is what I wanted to show in my drawing. Crystallization shows the deformation and distortion that occurs when I see something natural, fluid and beautiful like a tree. In the drawing, the cubes of metal are like building blocks of my framework. They are strictly geometric, just like my framework for understanding is bound by rationality. These blocks splash down on the image, distorting it with ripples and splashes on the surface of the reflection. Already, you can see the impact of imposing one’s framework on a new experience. Next, the bits of framework infect the scene, integrating themselves into the tree and grass. The image is paused at a stage where the bits have infected the base of the tree, but have not yet fully consumed it. This is because I wanted the viewer to see the progressive infection of the framework, and hopefully this makes them take a step back and reassess how they approach new experiences. Only by overcoming the compulsion to compartmentalize experience or by constantly growing one’s framework through experience, may we see things for how they truly are. Finally, the snail that rests atop the piece represents what this growing, “optimal” framework might be: It is fragile and slow, but is alive. So long as we take care of how we create and enhance this living framework, we will be rewarded with a truer understanding of our experiences.