Sophomore’s art passion sparks online expression


Emmanuelle Bal

Shown are two of Emmanuelle Bal’s artworks, as seen on her Instagram art account @optic.arts. She uses media such as markers, acrylic paint, watercolors, and charcoal to convey her emotions.

Samuel Beck, Reporter

On March 26, sophomore Emmanuelle Bal posted a sketch from her arts notebook, captioned simply: “Random Print/Sketch.” 

It is a rough sketch that uses bright colors with vibrant and juxtaposed motifs to create a feeling of chaos in the piece. In the center, a cartoon-esque face is drawn with teary eyes and a despondent face.

Four days later, she posted again. This time, the piece was more abstract; depicting a number of confusing and shapeless creatures. The piece was captioned: “Is this art?”

In the following months, she continued to regularly post a wide range of artistic pieces, from abstract portraits to breathtaking landscapes.

Since her initial post in March, she has posted 47 more of her art projects on the account, tilted “optic.arts.” 

Emmanuelle Bal feels things very intensely and says this account has served as an instinctual coping mechanism for venting emotions in her daily life. 

Her journey to becoming an online artist began last year, when she took a printmaking class, which she really enjoyed. She was inspired to continue to pursue her artistic abilities. 

This pursuit led her to explore opportunities for her summer. 

 “This summer I was given [the opportunity] to do this paid apprenticeship with a Chicago-based program, which not only supplied me with a variety of art supplies to work with but also helped me expand my skill set as an artist.”

Emmanuelle describes herself as a “mixed media” artist but said this apprenticeship allowed her to expand her skills.

“It helped me expand my skill sets with charcoal, chalk pastel and other mediums I usually don’t work with,” she said.                               

She has continued to grow as an artist, enrolling in the AP Drawing/AP 2D class this year, which allows her to pursue independent projects. 

Her teacher for this class, Brian Wildeman, describes her as an enthusiastic student, who spends extra time in the classroom honing her skills. He said her fearlessness epitomizes her as an artist.

My inspirations come from everywhere overall. I am inspired by nature, other people, forms of art in museums, and everything that can be felt through any of my senses.

“She wanted to work on this board and she wanted to change the shape of the board, and I got out my electric jigsaw and was about to start cutting it for her, but she wanted to do it herself,” he said. “It’s a loud dangerous tool that a lot of people are intimidated by, and she said ‘Oh I can do that,’ so I said, ‘Have you used one of these?’ and she said ‘No.’ I think that says a lot about her: she’s really excited to jump right in with anything that she needs to pursue her muse.”

She describes her “muse” for these projects as a number of sources that she interacts with daily.

“My inspirations come from everywhere overall,” she said. “I am inspired by nature, other people, forms of art in museums, and everything that can be felt through any of my senses.”

Emmanuelle is one of many students who have pursued personal passions over quarantine. For Emmanuelle, art has been a way to express and release her emotions, and her online presence has given her a chance to share that with her peers in a healthy way.