Sometimes it’s impossible not to be enchanted by a work of art. It could be the vibrant colors, the use of words to accent the piece, or the whimsical nature of the work as a whole that grabs the viewer’s attention. In the case of Mikaela Savage’s portfolio, it’s a combination of all three.
Savage’s unique art adorns the cover and pages of “Shedding Jellyfish,” the fall 2021 zine from The Laughing Medusa. The laughing jellyfish is the only literary arts magazine at Boston College that only accepts submissions from female-identifying, non-binary artists, according to its Instagram bio.
“When we get experimental artists like Mikaela, we get really excited because what we want to do is amplify those voices on campus and share the really interesting art that we find,” said Lexie Slotterback, Lynch’ 22 and current editor. of The Laughing Medusa.
According to Savage, MCAS ’24, she didn’t begin to seriously pursue art until the second semester of her freshman year. She submitted her work for the fall zine with encouragement from Jules Digregorio, Savage’s friend and board member of The Laughing Medusa.
Digregorio, MCAS ’24, encouraged Savage to submit his artwork not only because of Savage’s talent, but because Savage’s art also matched the message of The laughing jellyfish, Digregorio said.
“The laugh Astonished is all about the magic of femininity and femininity and also gender queerness, and I think Mikaela captures that really well,” Digregorio said. “Especially in her portraits of herself, she becomes this divine being who closely resembles the mythological inspirations of laughing jellyfish.”
the laughing jellyfish publishes a comprehensive literary arts magazine each spring, but each fall it also prints a zine, which is a shorter collection of literary works. Each zine has a different theme based on submissions, according to Slotterback.
For fall 2021, Savage’s illustrations inspired the magazine’s board members to choose the theme of “Shedding jellyfish,” according to Slotterback. Along with the cover, three of Savage’s other submissions, all untitled, filled the pages of the zine.
The zine is usually printed in black and white, Slotterback said. But since Savage played with color in such a fascinating way in his pieces, The laughing jellyfish the board decided to print the zine in color, Slotterback said.
Although his works represent a range of images, including Alice in Wonderland–esque mushrooms, Savage specializes in portraiture. The pouch designed by Savage contains two large faces, one face in orange and one in green. Both lie on the eyeless page, surrounded by pen figures and red and blue handprints. The words “Excuse me. We’re running out of eyeballs!” surround the figures.
“I started with the face, then went in with ink,” Savage said. “For this one, in particular, I liked drawing on my paint [and] writing, so here I added some words [to make it] interactive.”
One of Savage’s self-portraits also puts words front and center. Instead of shading facial features in the traditional way, Savage wrote words and phrases over and over, in varying sizes and overlaps, creating depth.
Despite his talent for the visual arts, Savage was more interested in ballet than the visual arts growing up. But her upbringing immersed her in an artistic lifestyle. His mother encouraged Savage and his four siblings to pursue art while drawing inspiration from his surroundings.
“My mother used to take us into the woods to do watercolours, [and] we did a lot of classes like that, but i feel like i didn’t really start to get interested in art or develop my own style until then [college]“said Sauvage.
As Savage continues to develop her own style, she said she plans to submit more work to The laughing jellyfish and potentially submit his work for the Arts Walk at BC’s Arts Fest next April. Due to the innovative nature of her art, the final piece surprises the viewer, and even Savage herself, as it incorporates unexpected colors and elements that blow the art off the page.
“I feel like my art is always kind of a work in progress,” Savage said. “Like I start something and I have no idea where it’s going, then the end result is a surprise to me.”
The laughing jellyfish is the first place Savage published his work, but his art is still displayed on his dorm walls, according to Digregorio.
“I’ll walk into her room and she’ll be like ‘Oh look what I did yesterday’ and it’s something I would see in a museum,” Digregorio said.
One of Savage’s biggest inspirations is the Austrian painter Egon Schiele, which is evident in the line drawing style of the figures and faces she portrays. Shiele paints distorted figures, usually using bright colors instead of flesh tones for his portraits.
Savage is also trying to move away from using skin tones, choosing instead to use colors that she feels represent the people she draws or match their energy. Savage paints portraits from reference photos and images in his mind. She will sometimes create drawings of her friends as gifts for their birthdays.
With his friends as muses, Savage draws symbols or creates a collage around their faces with images that remind him. Digregorio received one of those birthday portraits from Savage, saying it was one of their most special times together.
“It was indescribable,” Digregorio said. “I immediately felt like crying because it wasn’t just this amazing part of me, but it was this illustration of how Mikaela sees the world and how she sees me. It was just the thing. more wonderful to see myself through the eyes of this person I love.
Images selected by Mikaela Savage
Graphic presented by Annie Corrigan / Editor-in-Chief