Artist spotlight: Student artist inspired by reality of biology

Madelyn DePodesta

Arts & Features Staff Writer

mdepodes@unca.edu

UNC Asheville junior Addie Starbird’s perspective on art stems from her fascination with the human body.

“I’ve always done art because my mom is a teacher,” Starbird said. “I want to be a medical illustrator and scientific illustrator, so I want to get my Bachelors of Fine Arts in drawing so that way I can go on and get my license and work for different colleges or hospitals. I would document dead stuff, or species that are going extinct, or different organs and how things work. I’d draw the cool diagrams you’d see in the

UNC Asheville student artist, Addie Starbird, creates beautiful artwork inspired by everyday biology.

textbooks.”

Starbird’s passion for the crossover between art, biology and the human body remains eminent throughout her artwork by her use of texture and maintaining a black and white aesthetic.

“I find the brain incredibly interesting. It’s just really gross and beautiful at the same time because it does so much. It’s basically a human but without the body, but then again, it’s really gross and squishy and it has so many fun textures and that’s why I like it,” Starbird said. “It’s really interesting to study because everybody’s brain is different so there are countless ways I can try and no drawing of the brain can ever be the same and you can never run out of source material.”

When she’s not painting brains, skeletons or the human heart, Starbird finds inspiration from the photorealism and surrealism movements.

“A lot of it is photorealism,” Starbird said. “But I really love surrealists, I like the way that their brains work. I really like the idea of drawing exactly what is there. Not idolizing it. I know a lot of my professors yell at me because I do it exactly as I see it so I don’t add any drama to my stuff.”

Starbird’s fascination for incorporating reality into her artwork is noticed by her peers in the art program here at UNCA.

I have always loved Addie’s style of art and her dedication to what she does,” sculpture student and senior Mandy Kingsley said. “She is really passionate. She puts her all into every project and takes criticism well and seriously, which is nice as a fellow art student.

While Starbird is sure of what she wants to accomplish with her art in the future, she still appreciates working with several different mediums and styles of art.

“I’m pretty new into my work,” Starbird said. “I haven’t gotten to do any personal work yet so I haven’t really discovered my style yet, necessarily. But I know that photorealism and realism are where I’m headed. I still don’t really know and I’m still figuring everything out. If I didn’t have to pick a concentration I wouldn’t, I don’t like sitting down and doing the same thing over and over again.”

Starbird in particular likes creating sculptures where she can use two very different mediums to design them.  

“When I do sculpture I mostly use clay, but I also got into wood,” Starbird said. “Last semester I made one, it was supposed to be abstract but looked like an angry goose. It was pretty tall too, about 5-foot. It was layered pieces of plywood. I do a lot of stuff with clay, I’m taking Ceramics I right now and I’m making a lot of bowls and mugs. I love making jugs, just because they’re pretty. They’re just a lovely shape.”

Starbird expressed her gratitude for the creative outlet art provides her with, and the ability to explore several styles and mediums.

“I just love creating, creating is just something I’m very passionate about,” Starbird said. “I was always a really imaginative child, so I think that transposed into it. I was originally going to be a biomedical engineer major, I switched that very quickly because I do not like math at all. There are strict guidelines and deadlines and I’ll pull all-nighters to get stuff done, but it’s worth it because it’s like playing while you’re working. That’s kind of why I stick with art. What I do to calm down is what I do for class.”

The passion for art exuded by Starbird is also prevalent to her peers and fellow artists in the art department at UNCA.

If there is anything that is clear after taking multiple art classes with her, it’s that she is driven wholeheartedly by her passion for art whether that implies creating it, discussing it or learning about it,” printmaking student Brianna Miller said. “When I see her art, I’m always amazed by her ability to perceive and convey such beauty and awe from forms that often frighten, shock or disgust us. Addie is the type of artist that has talent and skill developed by dedication to her passion. I have no doubt that she will only get better in the future and produce more amazing work here at UNCA and into her career beyond graduation.”

This spring break, Starbird hopes to partake in a museum study in New York City.

“I would hopefully be able to go see different works at the MET,” Starbird said. “And prepare for my BFA application so I can decide on my topic based off of some of the artwork that I see there.”

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