Gabriella Hesse is a student at the University of Florida majoring in Biology and soon to be on her way to be on the pre-med track. Her academia in the STEM fields is not only the only thing she finds interest in, she also immerses herself in the arts.  

Hesse’s piece, Piccadilly Circus is a mixed media photo transfer that was awarded the Editor’s Choice Award for Art for the 2019 Scribendi issue. The Editor’s Choice Award was decided by our editor’s of this year, Alyssa Aragon and Hyunju Blemel. Hesse also has another piece titled, Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Piccadilly Circus inScribendi 2019

What is striking about Piccadilly Circus is seeing visually, the process of combining photography and art mediums like charcoal, together in order to create a textured and quite emotional mood to the piece.  

What was your inspiration for the piece? 

A couple years ago I had the opportunity to travel to London to perform in the New Year’s Day Parade with my dance team, and I took the picture that you see in this piece our first day there. I felt really inspired by the juxtaposition of old and new in London; the architecture is so historical but the culture and the people are very diverse. This, paired with the sheer size of the city and the thousands of people in it allowed for a sense of beautiful chaos that I wanted to capture in Piccadilly Circus.  

Piccadilly Circus is a media mixed photo transfer, what does mixing medias have to offer more to a piece than a traditional one media creation? 

I have always worked primarily with charcoal, so venturing into mixed media with this piece was definitely a new experience for me. What I like about using multiple medias is that you can utilize the strengths of each medium and really create something unique with them. In Piccadilly Circus, I wanted to preserve the roughness of the photo transfer edges, but I didn’t love how dark the bottom of the piece was initially due to so much black ink. Charcoal allowed me to very gently bring in some of the lighter yellow paint lines, and acrylic was good for adding in texture that would balance well with the top of the piece. 

What’s is one thing your want viewers to take away from Piccadilly Circus? 

All I heard before my trip to London was that cities are dirty and the best part of my trip would be the tours we had lined up outside of London. While I loved the castles and museums, I found London’s chaotic atmosphere beautiful. What I hope viewers will take from my piece is that there is art in everything, and that if we take our eyes away from texts and emails for just a moment, we could get a glimpse of something really wonderful. 

What is your creative process like?  

I find I am in a near permanent state of artist’s block- I will struggle with ideas until I get about a thousand at once. Once I know what I want to create however, I tend to know exactly the direction my piece needs to go. Fellow artists have commented on how quick I am at producing art that is often quite large, and I think that’s because I have a vision for my art and I don’t waste much time making decisions. 

What challenges, technical or otherwise, did you face while creating this piece? 

Because I had never worked with mixed media or photo transfer before, the actual transfer process was a bit of a challenge. I chose to use the transfer process unique to Robert Rauschenberg and Marvin Gralnick’s work, which calls for quick but careful placement and a lot of arm muscle. Photo transfer requires manual scraping of the ink onto the final canvas or paper, and you don’t know this but Piccadilly Circus is almost as big as I am. This made for a really interesting sight (and sore arms the following day). Once the transfer was complete however, I just had to be careful to use gloves when adding other mediums in, as the oils in your skin tend to yellow paper and canvas, and work in very light layers to avoid smudging the ink.  

Is there anything you are working on now? 

I have been very inspired by my anatomy class and sketching fairly often, however I am excited to get home for the summer and get back to experimenting with more transfers. I have lots of travel pictures from Utah, Arizona, and New York City that I think could make for interesting pieces. 

You mentioned in your artist biography that you are a biology major and on the pre-med track, how does your major influence your art? 

My love for anatomy has had a profound effect on my art. I find the human body to be so incredibly beautiful, due to its intricate design and complexity. During my senior year of high school, I had to create an exhibition comprised of 8-11 works for IB High Level Visual Art, and I chose to center my works around anatomy. Another piece of mine, Magnetic Resonance Imaging,  is also published in this edition of Scribendi and belongs to my exhibition collection. 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Scribendi 2019

How does it feel having two of your works being accepted this year and one being awarded  Editor’s Choice Award winner? 

Absolutely amazing. Art is so personal; while I can study for an exam and be excited about an A, being recognized for my art takes on a whole new level of excitement. Most artists will tell you that there is a piece of them in every work of art they create, and knowing that someone else enjoys that artwork is just a really exhilarating feeling. 

How did you hear about Scribendi? 

I am a part of the Honors Program at the University of Florida and they keep us updated on all sorts of opportunities, Scribendi happened to be one that caught my eye and I decided to give it a shot.  

What convinced you to submit to Scribendi and what words of wisdom could you offer to potential submitters? 

It can never hurt to try. My general philosophy on applying for different awards or programs is that you have a zero percent chance of receiving that award or getting into the program if you don’t try, so why wouldn’t you? The worst thing that could happen is that you aren’t published and you walk away knowing you gave it your best. In short, life is full of opportunity, and I would encourage anyone considering submitting their work to Scribendi to have the courage to give it a shot.