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Angelique Abare painting in her studio

Photographic Memory

By Karen Hunt

Angelique Abare remembers the dress she wore to her third birthday party. She remembers the kind of cake she ate and the swing set she received as a present.

Tucked away at her parent’s home in upstate New York are several pictures of Abare from that day. Abare can’t decide if she remembers the party because she has memories of it or because she’s seen the photographs enough times to recreate the memory.

This concept has become the foundation for her artwork, while working towards a master of fine art degree in painting at the University of Idaho. Through her artwork, she sets out to explore if memories exist based upon experience or through a series of photographs strung together to recreate the memory.

“I’ve always been interested in memory and how we define the foundation of ourselves through memories, especially when we might not remember experiencing that particular moment,” says Abare.

She chose to focus her paintings on the memories she has developed of the place she calls home: her apartment.

“All the spaces I paint are spaces I spend a lot of time in,” says Abare.

She has created a series of six paintings that show her memory of her living space. But just like memory, the canvas paintings have many layers.

Before she began painting, she took several pictures of the room. She then cut up all the pictures into small pieces and then sets to reconstruct the space from the fractured parts. The layered view gave her the starting point she needed to then paint the room on canvas.

“Initially, I wanted the room to be disorientating,” says Abare. “I wanted to show that memory, painting and life are fractured and constantly in flux.”

The human eye sees the world through eye movement. When the eye is static, it is blind. By creating different layers, the aim is to recreate this pattern of eye movement and the disjointed way we experience our environment.

Abare uses vibrant colors, such as reds, blues, purples and greens to help the viewer with the broken perspective of the painting.

While a large amount of time spent on campus has been devoted to painting, Abare also teaches several art classes. A self-claimed perfectionist, teaching art to her students has renewed Abare’s confidence in allowing herself to make mistakes.

“Allowing myself to make mistakes pushes my work and makes it better,” says Abare. “You have to do something wrong before you can do something right.”

Abare is one of six art graduate students to participate in Graduate Art Exhibit at the Prichard Art Gallery, which runs April 15 - May 14.

“It’s a big deal," says Abare. "We don’t get to show in the Prichard until our thesis show.”

Abare says the exposure the exhibit brings to the graduate students not only educates students and faculty members, but also showcases to the community what they are working on, since many graduate art students have a hand in working within the community.

Before she leaves the university in May following graduation, Abare offers this piece of advice to students. “Treat your education like a job. Make choices that will challenge you, motivate you, and let yourself make mistakes. Share your energy and excitement -- it will cost you nothing extra to have a passionate personality.”