Art, like most things in life, is subjective. Art can be immense and grandiose or it can be simple and quirky. The diversity of creative expression is the true beauty behind artistry.
Erica [email protected]@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&s=Erica+Hardin@@, a senior at the University, makes art both big and small. She will be graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Science in art. She has a grasp on several creative outlets: painting, illustration, photography and silk screening. Moreover, she makes food jewelry. To put it simply, Hardin makes clever jewelry using polymer clay, which she molds, bakes and paints in order to look like food.
“The miniature food stuff started when I had a dollhouse as a little one,” Hardin said. “I made all my own little food, and as I grew up I just never stopped.”
On top of going to school, Hardin creates this jewelry and sells it at the Eugene Saturday Market. “There has been a pretty wide variety of reactions,” she said. “It’s kind of all over the place, but for the most part it’s pretty positive.”
But you cannot label Hardin as simply a jewelry maker; she is a dynamic artist. She takes her creative pursuits seriously and, like most serious artists, is highly critical of herself.
“Ninety-nine percent of what I make sucks but that one percent, like once a month you make something that’s great, becomes your proudest creation,” she said. “But then the next month you think it sucks, and you move on to the next creation.”
Hardin is charismatic and passionate, and she presents herself with a positive attitude. She’s deeply connected with not only her own artistic expression but also the broader art community as well.
“Ultimately, I’d love to be a high school art teacher,” Hardin said. “People all the time are just so afraid that they can’t draw; that’s something that I want to change in some capacity.”
“I feel like I’m having an existential moment in my art-making,” she said. “I used to think of art as just pure mimesis and representing reality in the best way you can.” Ultimately though, Hardin said, “being able to express yourself creatively and emotionally is really important, and I’m starting to do that a lot more seriously.”
At the moment, Hardin is in the process of increasing her stock for the rest of the Saturday Market season. She’s also deeply invested in her painting class in which she is exploring systems of relationships.
“I’ve been learning about recurring patterns in my life that could maybe be universalized so that other people can learn from them as well,” Hardin said. In short, she’s expressing her emotional history through her painting.
Hardin is more than just a student of art looking to make a quick buck on the side, she’s a creator pursuing her visions. She has dreams, goals and aspirations. She’s constantly redefining herself as an artist.
“I feel like I’ve come a long way, but as an artist I don’t think you should ever be satisfied with where you are or else you will never grow.”