Shirley Vargas is a Chicago-born and based interdisciplinary artist currently studying for her Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art with an emphasis in Drawing, and a second major in Art History from Northeastern Illinois University. From 2017-2018, she was president of the NEIU Art Club and co-founded the Artists’ Society in 2019. She was awarded Best in 2D in the 2020 NEIU Juried Art Show, as well as the Bernard Brommel Award for Excellence in Podium Research Presentation in the 2019 Student Research and Creative Activities Symposium. She is a multiple time recipient of the Art and Merit Scholarship from NEIU, and has had work displayed in various exhibitions around Chicago. Her artwork reflects on identity, altered states of mind, and subconscious dialogue.
Can you feel it coming?
Can you feel it coming? is a body of work that captures the liminal space between reason and irrationality—the awareness of it in oneself and the struggle to conquer the thoughts and fears it breeds that come creeping out of the dark. These drawings invite viewers to step past the border of logical thought and feeling. Be it induced by anxiety, stimulants, sleep deprivation, superstition, or paranoia, irrationality can manifest itself in many ways. It can alter the way we perceive things: benign or malignant? Truth or dishonesty? Real or not real? This collection of drawings present an awareness in both the self and now the viewer of a loss of control and understanding as irrationality takes root in an altered mind and transforms as the series progresses.
I use jarring, vivid colors to imbue my drawings with manic energy that is restrained by the careful, layered approach of ballpoint pen. Recurring motifs of eyes and hands represent the feel of paranoia that seems ever-present and looming closer. I draw in a naturalistic style and present things that are familiar to us such as the eyes and hands, and slowly warp them through the lens of fear and mania until they are made new. These are normal things in abnormal circumstances. I contrast a tight, meticulous technique with a bolder and unrestricted style to represent these struggles. I use text elements in the form of speech bubbles to share a dialogue between the two forces at play—one challenges, taunts, and pleads with the rational mind to be invited in, to allow a full possession. The dialogue of the rational mind tries to reassure itself that what it sees is not real. These artworks embody a mind that haunts itself consciously and unconsciously, always on edge, always questioning its perception of reality.