Many people believe that you are supposed to find yourself in college, though some students simply reconnect with old passions during this time. One University of Rhode Island student loved and made art his whole life until high school, which made him rethink his artistic path.

“I thought it wasn’t ‘cool,’” Kirby Nunez, a now senior Fine Art major with a minor in Textiles, said. “When I came here I was [a] Kinesiology major, and I realized this is not what I want to do, I’m not happy doing this.  I took a few art classes, and I was like, I like it again, I want to get back into it. So then I completely switched, I went from Kinesiology and Business to Fine Art and Textiles”

Now, Nunez is happily making art using prints. Normally a print is something that can be remade and reprinted over and over, but Kirby’s piece is an original without copies.

Credit: Casey Kelly/The Good 5 Cent Cigar
Credit: Casey Kelly/The Good 5 Cent Cigar

“This is what we call a ‘one of one’,” Nunez said. “I couldn’t reproduce this for anything. And that’s how a lot of the prints that I’m heading toward for my future projects are.”

The reason that Nunez’s image will not have copies is because he creates a picture using more than just one print. His pieces are layers of multiple prints and different materials.

“That’s the thing about my work, it’s not just all standard printmaking,” Nunez said. “This is a print but [for example] the crowns here are collaged onto this, like I drew the crowns with crayon and [then] I collaged those on top so that they’re on top of the piece. The figures are transfers that I’ve done, [which] is when you take an image and you give it a special coating of something and then you put it on the press and run it through.”

His list of materials used for this one piece include pen for the topography lines, watercolor paint, crayon (oil pastels) and the prints themselves. Nunez made the tree branches’ print himself, and it is a continuous image like wallpaper.

“So what I did was, once I transferred the image, I took my stone, put it on the press, printed the image [of the trees] on top of the two falling [figures],” Nunez said. “Then I went back in with crayon and colored this all over again, just to give it a little bit more.”

All of these different elements come together through Nunez’s inspiration from balance. The piece contains both symmetry and asymmetry, and there are contrasting colors on the opposing edges.

“They’re contrasting, that’s the main thing, you have to look at every side of the spectrum,” Nunez said. “You have to look at the hot side, cold side, positive and negative, and you have to pick and choose what is going to make it better, what is going to make you better”

The pen lines which represent the topography lines of a map can be found reaching all over the image, representing different landscapes and mountains.

“It’s part of me finding my way, is how I see it,” Nunez said. “A lot of it is just the law of attraction; it’s your positive energy. Everything is push and pull, if you’re pushing for something good you’re going to pull something good out.”

Specifically chosen words are scattered across the pen-drawn map, including “aura” to reference everyone’s individual energy fields. And there are two mirrored figures at the center of the frame which appear to be thrown back in movement.

“It’s actually a figure falling from the sky, but it goes with the whole push and pull thing,” Nunez said. “Either you’re falling down or you’re falling up, it’s just however you look at things… I’m an extreme optimist.”

This piece is representative of Nunez himself, his background with art and the minority artists who have inspired him.

“A lot of it is graffiti-influenced, because that’s where I started. I was doing not wild-style tags but just slapping a lot of stencils around, and that’s where I got my start doing artwork,” said Nunez. “I was a creative kid, and then I started looking at a lot of other artists influences, like Jean-Michel Basquiat.”

After entering this piece in the show last semester, Nunez, a junior at that time, was awarded the David Ketner Memorial scholarship, which is given to the most outstanding junior artist.