An intricate documentation of Isa Siegel’s semester abroad, “The Owl, the Lion, and the Dragon,” showcased in VCAM, compiles a series of colorful collages depicting architecture, statues, and street art. Her exhibit showcases the complex stories tied to the places she visited. The fine arts major draws on her own Eastern European roots to reveal worlds separate from ours, ones that she—as observer, artist, and student—roamed and recorded behind the lens of a camera.
Each collage exudes vibrant life as spires are overlaid with patterns of graffiti. Everyday objects with skewed color schemes populate the foreground of her pieces. Scenes shot from beyond cafe windows, amidst city streets, and throughout urban nightscapes are framed within each mosaic.
“With each new city I went to, I spent hours wandering the streets, photographing architectural details unique to that place,” she writes in the description accompanying the exhibit.
As she amassed a growing collection of photos, Siegel began to notice a pattern in her surroundings. The title of her exhibit comes from those patterns; owls adorned the tops of buildings in Zagreb; stone lions sit watching the city of Budapest; dragons stand on the Zmajski Bridge in Ljubljana. Between great buildings and monuments, Siegel beheld the visual wonders she encountered on her trip.
Her work doesn’t just capture bustling city life. It also contains still, reflective moments of the greenery of the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca, where Siegel’s grandparents were from. In the piece entitled Cluj Napoca: The Mountain, brown-spotted cows graze before mountains quietly standing under rays of sunlight that poke through rolling clouds.
“As someone with Eastern European heritage, I wanted to learn more about these places, and their vibrant cultures, divergent from those in Western Europe,” said Siegel. “Each collage is a conglomeration of the artwork and cultural idiosyncrasies I observed in each place, serving as my personal mementos of these cities.”
Siegel’s exhibit demonstrates not only a geographic journey across border lines but also a personal one. Through her art, she explores the places that shape her roots and how they exist in the world today.
“The Owl, the Lion, and the Dragon” is on display in VCAM through February 8. To learn more about Isa Siegel’s exhibit, click here.
Written by Andrew Nguyen ’19. Photos by Patrick Montero.