‘Feels like a trick’: How Maltese explains art through perception and illusion

Danielle Stehle, Reporter

As the First Friday Lecture series came to a close, multidisciplinary artist in breadth, Vanessa Maltese shared their experience working with their art through the plasticity of the brain April 14.

The Center of Visual Arts invites artists across the country to present their work to students and community members.

Maltese showcased their work using examples from their everyday life to change their method of thinking. Such examples include the idea of pareidolia as they find the significance in common items found in ordinary places.

One of their first pieces, “Bird rock,” inspired this interest in how the mind perceives things that others may not. The well-known ambiguous image, “Rubin’s Vase,” inspired their later piece, “Fact or Fiction,” which incorporated “Rubin’s Vase” multiple times throughout their piece.

“Rubin’s Vase” uses positive and negative spaces to create two images. This idea made Maltese want to experiment more with the concept.

“Illusion is not possible without the positive,” Maltese said. “It makes it easy for the brain to complete the image, no matter how you may look at it.”

Emerson Lancaster, senior studio art major, was intrigued by the repetition of the “trickery” Maltese used.

“I was inspired by how you can see something in one [image] and then when you look again, you see another [image],” Lancaster said.

Not only has Maltese worked through physical pieces but they went “beyond the studio” to help draw inspiration into their own work. By taking walks and looking up at the sky, Maltese used the formation of clouds to create possible images.

“In a sense, it was a form of daydreaming by perceiving the clouds,” Maltese said.

Maltese moved from physical perceptions to audio-visual perceptions once they dove deeper into how the brain may perceive outside sounds and objects together.

When Maltese presented a brief example of their audio-visual art, senior art education major Katharina Hamilton became more confident in her development as an artist. Hamilton understood that one’s own perception of their art is not forever that mindset.

“Your art can change over time,” Hamilton said. “It doesn’t have to be this stagnant being.”

Throughout Maltese’s exploration, they continue to understand more about the world by asking the question: “How can I sort through these [art pieces] as I sort through the world?”

Danielle Stehle is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].