Most people would never make a connection between being on the swim team and being an art student, yet Colette Aubin, a senior fine arts major with a minor in film media at the University of Rhode Island, has blended the two seamlessly into a work of art.

Aubin posing with her work. - Credit: Casey Kelly/The Good 5 Cent Cigar
Aubin posing with her work. – Credit: Casey Kelly/The Good 5 Cent Cigar

“I’m really inspired by the muscles of the body, and how you can use your body,” Colette said. “I’m always wet and sweaty from swimming. And it’s okay to be dirty and hairy, but I want to make it look beautiful. Because in athletics you put in so much hard work, so much blood, sweat, and tears, but in the end you’re left with such a good result. You have self confidence and teamwork and you get muscles and you look good!”

Colette is using the same philosophy of hard work for a great product in her current art project as well. She has created a mixed media piece by combining her sculpture skills and photography, her two favorite things.

“I did this all in the studio,” Colette said.  “[The project] started off super small, and then I kept pushing and pushing the idea and re-shooting it until I got the shots that I wanted.  I wanted to push it even further by printing them on something other than just paper. So these are pieces of metal flashing that I got at Home Depot. Literally what you use on your roof, aluminum flashing.”

Then the real work begins, as Colette has to sand the flashing by hand, degrease it with paint thinner, and then coat it with “inkjet pre-coat.”

“You have to coat it, and then wait for it to dry, and then you can prep your photo on photoshop,” Colette said. “Then you put the metal flat through the back of the printer, and then it just prints out. And you just have to wait for it to dry [since] it’s really delicate, because the ink isn’t soaked into a piece of paper; it’s drying and soaking into the coat that you laid on top of the metal. But it gives [the photos] such a great shine.”

Aubin's completed project. - Credit: Casey Kelly/The Good 5 Cent Cigar
Aubin’s completed project. – Credit: Casey Kelly/The Good 5 Cent Cigar

Finally, Colette created a wooden structure and nailed the newly metal photos onto the pieces of wood, making the pieces pop off the wall instead of laying flat.

The models in the photos are another girl on the swim team and one of the boys from the men’s club team, however, the viewer is unable to tell for certain which pictures are male or female, or even which body parts some of the photographs are capturing. This mysterious quality is intentional.

“I can tell [which body parts the pictures are of], but no one else can tell.” Colette said.  “You’re supposed to not recognize what body part it is… You have to look really close at them to try and figure out what part of the body it is. And I just enjoy how the muscles move and create lines and crevices, but then when you add on water … it’s just all about texture, and even in sculpture I’m a wood carver, I don’t work with any other mediums. So I wanted to incorporate more than just hanging a picture in a frame, because this is more than that.”