Raven Lynn Zeh is a printmaker, body, and performance artist from the small town of Worthington, Massachusetts. They started at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Massachusetts at sixteen, graduating with their Associate’s Degree in Visual Art in 2014. The following fall, they transferred to Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine to major in printmaking, graduating with her Bachelor's Degree in Fine Art in 2016. After a year working with toddlers at Portside Learning Center, they returned to school to complete their Master of Arts in Education at Maine College of Art in 2018. Before settling into a full-time teaching position, they plan to integrate themself more fully with the arts and performance community in Portland, specifically in the areas of music and dance.
If I am an artist, it is only because I ask questions. I ask incessant questions. If I am an artist, it is only because of the nonsensical nature of the society I live in.
In my work, I examine the human condition by taking aspects of my own identity and examining them in a larger socio-cultural context using traditional and nontraditional forms of print, performance, and installation. It is important for us to divorce the human condition from cultural conditioning, so I push the borders of my viewers comfortability in order to encourage them to question the inception of their discomfort. I believe it is through questioning that we begin to break down the accepted “truths” of our society.
In the words of Rumi, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” By turning inwards and making work to address what I find there, I am pulling inspiration directly from my cultural conditioning and my condition of being. The unabridged questions I ask myself are accessible to my audience because we share a culture (on some scale) and are all suffering from the human condition. The raw, confessional nature of my work lessens the feelings of terrible dissociation and isolation which come inevitably as a side effect of being trapped in a human body.
Body itself is a highly significant factor in my artistic practice. If I can relate to a human being on no other level, we still share the experience of having a human body. It is a necessary tool for action and vessel for the soul. As a cultural icon, it holds heavy allusions to self-image and sexuality. In performances, I use my body as a prototypical form so viewers may “insert your body here,” allowing them to further empathize with the conditions the body endures over an allotted span of time. I often work on large scales and in real space to allow myself to be physically (and therefore, spiritually) involved. I make body prints in a variety of media, both two- and three-dimensionally. Discomfort itself is a bodily sensation. My challenge as a maker is to simultaneously capitalize on the uncomfortable and provide my viewers a space where they may remove themselves one step from discomfort to ask “why?”