Leah Beeferman is a Brooklyn-based artist who works in digital drawing, painting, sound and animation. She completed her MFA at Virginia Commonweath University in 2010, and has participated in many international exhibitions and residencies, including the SÍM Residency in Reykjavik and OCAD’s Digital Painting Atelier in Toronto. Her work explores concepts of spatial dynamics, immateriality, physics and the artist’s hand.
I come from a background of ink and graphite drawing. The crossover to digital was natural. One of my teachers in grad school said, ‘We know you can make a good drawing, but what else can you do?’ I wanted to push my drawings and I’ve done web design, graphic design and animation so I have all these various digital skills and I wondered what would happen if I threw it all together.
A lot of my current work started with etched graphite pieces. I would find graphs using search terms that had to do with physics and astronomy, then I’d abstract them into collages and etch that onto graphite-covered paper. I’m still interested in that, but I got sick of using graphs, and I didn’t want to be a graph artist. It was two and a half years ago when I thought, ‘What would it be like if I started making drawings again?’
My Photoshop drawings are pretty intuitive. I hesitate to call them collages because ‘collage’ has the wrong connotation for what they are, even though that’s what the process is like. I take a section of a photograph and use the eraser tool to reverse-draw them into shape, and then use the spray paint tool to make those marks. There’s a ton of moving around and deleting. Originally it felt weird that I could just rearrange the drawing until it was done, but then I thought, that’s what the tool allows me to do, so why would I not? It would be stupid to not allow myself that freedom.
The idea that’s driving all this current work is the theory in quantum physics that empty space is not actually empty, and is really actually the opposite of empty. In the past, I was doing this science thing in a more direct way, but I got sick of being so direct. I thought, what if I take these ideas more obliquely and think about the formal possibilities in trying to relate the concept of space?
One of the things that draws me towards abstract science is that supposedly it exists, but it’s something we can’t observe or experience. The only way we can make sense of that is to try and relate it to something we know, something objective. The ultimate goal with all of this stuff is to make it feel like there’s logic behind it, or a system at play that you can’t define but you know is there. If I can make something that does that, then I’m happy.
–Leah Beeferman, as told to Studio Beat
Photos by Rachel MacFarlane
Visit Leah Beeferman’s website here.