Artist of the Week: Grace Teranishi
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Senior biology major Grace Teranishi from Stockton, CA finds material for creative endeavors wherever she goes, integrating natural sciences and art through her drawings, paintings, and poetry. Though she’d always had interest in writing and visual art, since coming to Westmont she has begun to more deeply explore both art forms, as well as how they intersect with her passion for biology.
“Thematically, I try to integrate a lot of natural sciences. A lot of my art and my poetry is inspired by different plants and animals, or things I’m learning in my classes,” Teranishi says, “In visual art, I’m trying to explore minimalist aesthetics.”
Teranishi finds inspiration not only in science classes, but also in the natural world. Over the past summer, she took several ecology classes in Washington state, and found substance for both her painting and her writing from the scenery around her, translating what she saw and learned into art.
It takes a rare talent to succeed across the seemingly very different fields of biology, visual art, and literature, and Teranishi unites her passions and prodigious skill across all three arenas to create arresting art as well as powerful poetry.
One of Teranishi’s favorite pieces of art she’s made serves as almost a perfect emblem of her interdisciplinary artistic ethos: a watercolor painting of sea flora and fauna entwined with an anatomical heart, inspired by a book about science. “I read Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us, and in the first few pages she talks about the first organisms coming from the sea and eventually evolving into humans,” Teranishi says, animatedly describing the impetus for her painting, “It’s not totally scientific, but she describes the ocean as the first circulatory system, so now it’s like everyone has a bit of the ocean in them. That really interested me, both scientifically and theologically.”
That Teranishi’s scientific and theological curiosity would spur her to art just showcases the sort of person and artist she is. The intersection of science and theology also appears in her poetry, where she explores the ideas of creation care and stewardship of the earth. Beyond finding thematic connections between her disciplines, she also finds connections between her artistic processes.
“When you get into a certain mode, all of the sudden anything around you becomes a source of inspiration and your mind kind of goes crazy for a bit,” she says, describing her artistic process, “All these ideas are bouncing around...for visual art it’s like, ‘Here’s this image in my mind I want to paint,’ and for poetry, ‘Here’s these words, phrases, or ideas I want to include in this poem.”
Teranishi isn’t sure how her art and poetry will intertwine with her future career and vocation, but in an ideal world, she would get to share her art with a larger audience, even as she studies and pursues biology. “Someday I’d like to do something more professionally with my art,” she says, “But if it’s just for me and for my friends, that’s fine too.”