The Diana Center is a central aspect of student life with long lines trailing out of Liz’s Place between class periods and clusters of students scattered amongst the vibrantly-colored furnishing. Its hallways are often decked out with student art, giving the space a gallery-like potential complete with modern cement flooring and floor-to-ceiling windows. As a student, when midterms and finals make it hard to take a trip to the galleries in Chelsea or to the museums downtown, having the opportunity to view new work a block away from classrooms is makes for a refreshing break.
Running from September 5-October 5, CC and GSAPP graduate Katie Shima is showing her drawings in the exhibition “Living Machines” on the 5th Floor of the Diana Center. Shima’s drawings demonstrate an intersection between architectural precision and the whimsicality of doodles using traditional drafting techniques to depict a series of fantastical ‘living machines.’ Shima was a one-time recipient of an Arts Initiative’s Gatsby Student Art Fund award in 2009.
In “Spring,” a field of crocuses, erratically arranged, seems to be naturally growing from the ground, but underneath, Shima’s piece shows a heavily intricate system of machinery supporting each individual flower. In an another inventive rendering, “Window,” machinery engulfs a delicate view of a pale blue window, portraying how a series of pipes, clockwork, and pulleys pumps out the imagery shown in the frame. What I really admired, aesthetically, about Shima’s work, was her ability to alter the tedium and strictness of drafting for the purpose of creating imagery that is imaginative and surreal.
Shima also inverts this idea of natural objects being controlled by mechanical systems in her work, “Flying Machine,” which portrays a made-up airborne invention, decked out with multiple propellers and engines. A network of pipes taper down to the bottom of the page, mimicking the quality of roots, giving a traditional machine the look of a living organism.
Her work explores relationships between the organic and manmade; order and chaos; and the rational and irrational. Yet what really hits home outside of these general and contradictory forces is how Shima is able to illustrate the overlap between the natural and mechanized world within today’s society. It speaks to how the aisles of fresh fruits and vegetables we see in markets are not drawn from what we wish to be romantic gardens but from industrial agricultural processes based in mechanization. The drawings make you question how much of the word around us is produced and how little of it is untouched by industrial dependence.
For those with a free moment between running to classes or meetings around campus, I recommend stopping by Shima’s exhibit for not just a visual break, but also to provoke some of your own thoughts about the state of our industrial culture.
To view more of Katie Shima’s portfolio, click here
–Caroline Chen, CC’15