BFA & BA Distinction Student Exhibition 2023
Four distinct creative voices exploring
how we collide,
how we break down,
and how we celebrate.
Simon Bigay is a multimedia artist who explores the intersection of digital technology and human experience. Through his work, he seeks to bridge the gap between the virtual and physical worlds, creating immersive and interactive environments that engage the viewer’s senses. Simon has worked on a range of projects that utilize various mediums, including video production, sound design, interactive installations, creative programming and digital fabrication. By spanning multiple media and finding creative ways to use advanced technology, Simon produces thought-provoking and innovative projects that are both critically and visually stimulating.
“Immaterial Imagery” draws influence from surreal and psychedelic aesthetics to create a dreamscape that the viewer can manipulate in real time. It is an interactive installation that allows the viewer to explore the idea of their non-corporeal self. This exploration of one’s metaphysical self ties in the idea of lost memory, playing with the idea that one’s consciousness may be older and more knowledgeable than the physical self is aware. It touches on how elements of our intangible self are deeply connected to our surroundings and how our instinctual minds are still present in an alternate reality overlapping with our own.
The installation includes a constructed environment that is reminiscent of an Americana living room, with elements of surrealism included within this physical space. The viewer sits in a chair that has a table in front of it with the controller for interaction. This is an individual experience with headphones, allowing the viewer to be immersed.
My work resides at the intersection of spirituality and identity. It is representative of how my conservative and Catholic upbringing has influenced the evolution of my identity as an unapologetically queer individual. My artistic practice is a therapy that allows me to explore and experiment with ideas that were deemed taboo in my childhood: sex, open expression, and the repurposing of religious imagery. Although I no longer identify with the Catholic faith, it is undeniable that the many years surrounded by religious iconography and Catholic culture have left a deep impression on my life. By inserting myself into Catholic images and environments, I create a cult of self. In this way, I claim symbology, characters, and motifs of the Catholic tradition for myself, creating a queer narrative centered on self-love.
My creative practice resides at the intersection of spirituality and identity. Through exploration of divine traumas and trysts, color, and Catholic iconography, this body of work reckons with religious and childhood traumas by reclaiming art historical compositions and collapsing them with Queer cultural references. Color is an integral part of my work and I use hues such as blue and pink to question gendered binaries. Further, by juxtaposing symbols such as the phallus and the chalice, these artworks confront the tension between the pure and the perverse and offer a glimpse into my dynamic psyche.
Existence is complicated. I seek to represent the puzzle of it through my perspective. Growing up a poor, Queer, Mexican kid from Nebraska, so much seemed impossible for me; things like art and education were secondary to survival. As a marginalized person, I believe that showing up and being part of the conversation is a brave, radical act.
I am interested in exploring the ideas of diaspora and machismo through the male and Queer gaze. In my work, I use color and varying degrees of visual control to invite contemplation about artistic tradition, gender roles, and social stigma. My work centers on themes of urban youth, racial and gender stereotypes, borders, forgotten labor, and uncelebrated histories. By uplifting unconventional artistic materials like construction supplies, tarps, scrap, utility, and repurposed wood, these artworks honor manual labor and question distinctions between high and low art. Being an artist is a unique privilege, and I honor the opportunity by pushing the boundaries of what art can be.
I like to think about time, the future, and memory, creating The Now and Present as nebulous, nuanced the interwoven experiences. Imagining my own Latinx ancestors’ lives through the lens of my own life, the Chihuahua – a dog originating from Chihuahua, Mexico – struck me as a thread connecting my life and personal love for the animal with my heritage. I could see generations of children warmed at night by a Chihuahua; families warned of danger by the large-eared, sensitive hearing of a Chihuahua; and now, the whole world able to be loved and protected by these special dogs. These works seek to honor and celebrate the often-stigmatized Chihuahua as a fiercely loving guardian, larger-than-life, omnipresent champion.
Activism is at the center of my work. As decisions about personal autonomy are being made at the federal level instead of the personal, my work oscillates between confrontational and subversive language, serving both as an educational tool and a call to action, encouraging others to fight for the rights that the government is trying so hard to take away. Driven by research, my work deals with gender and sexuality politics in the United States through the lenses of history and pop culture, asking how information is disseminated and received amongst social and cultural groups.
Drawing upon and appropriating historical events, texts, and artworks, I use a variety of media such as oil, watercolor, gouache, photography, and digital painting to create confrontational and subversive works that challenge the audience to discover information and make decisions for themselves. While provocative work grabs the attention of the audience, when paired with an unassuming means of conveying important information, the works enter into a dialogue with each other. They ask the audience to connect patterns and think critically about the information they have been given in the past and its relation to the present.
The overturning of Roe V. Wade in July 2022 forced thousands of people to further fear for their sexual and reproductive health. While bans and restrictions continue to pass through GOP-held state legislatures, this project aims to give back control over our sexual and reproductive health by elevating folk knowledge and history into the realm of fine art and common knowledge.
Each illustration represents an abortifacient herb that has been used throughout history by women as part of their sexual health. Though abortifacients can be used to induce an abortion, these herbs can also be used to regulate the menstrual cycle and mitigate pain from cramps. Typically taken as a tea, the importance of these herbs in folk medicine cannot be understated. As Western medicine superseded traditional medicine and women were relegated to the sidelines of their own sexual and reproductive health, this information was expunged from common knowledge. Tthe labels “folk medicine,” “witchcraft,” “hippie shit,” among others, seek to undermine the legitimacy of and deter others from using this form of medicine as a part of their sexual health and personal health at large.