Feature Story – Kaisal Shah

For Kaisal, art is a skill that can’t be learned at once. It is a continuous process and a person continues to grow as an artist with every piece she sees and creates. She started creating art from a very young age, and through different art classes and projects, she continues to learn more about it.

The Battle of the Teal “Best in Show” winner

Battle of the Teal “Best in Show” winner, a young, very ambitious and creative Kaisal Shah, was inspired to see beauty in every person, place, and object by her grandmother, who also was an artist, and she thinks that artists see the world through a different lens where they find ideas and inspiration out in the world. All of her ideas are based on her own views of the world and from her own experiences in it. She was given topics to work on by her art teachers in school with a lot of freedom to explore her creativity in the process, bringing her interest and passion to life.

For Kaisal, art is a skill that can’t be learned at once. It is a continuous process and a person continues to grow as an artist with every piece she sees and creates. She started creating art from a very young age, and through different art classes and projects, she continues to learn more about it. As per her, making more art means learning more and getting better at it. She has learned a lot about her art by visualizing others’ art and listening to their ideas, processes, and inspirations.

Illustrations by Kaisal S.

One of her inspiring moments was when she participated in Cleveland Clinic eXpressions competition in which they asked her to create a piece that would explain a research study done at the clinic. Kaisal chose a study that examined the use of mesenchymal stem cells to reverse opioid tolerance and opioid-induced hyperalgesia in rats and mice. To depict this, she drew a mouse made out of stem cells and opioid pills. The cells in the piece are made to look like they are pushing away the pills to represent the cells reversing opioid tolerance. The cast shadow of the mouse is made up of words pulled from opioid crisis research that she did to represent how the larger opioid crisis is metaphorically in the shadow of the study. The process of using organized dots to create an image is modelled on the massive-scale photorealist portraits of Charles Thomas “Chuck” Close. Kaisal has worked in a biomedical engineering lab at Case Western Reserve University for a few years, and that is where she observed rat and mice studies, so knowing a little more about the research aspect proved interesting to her in this project. She was asked to combine two subjects, science and art, in a really unexpected and creative way. And since she is passionate about both, she really enjoyed creating this piece.

Her winning art piece is called “Development,” which is a short animation video. The video shows the progression of a street in Times Square from about 400 years ago from when it was a forest to until the present day. The inspiration behind this came to her when her art teacher challenged her class to explore the idea of an ecosystem, so she decided to compare the two different ecosystems that are the forest and the city. The piece also explores themes of change, urbanization, and human impact. The process is modelled on William Kentridge’s art. She added and erased charcoal to and from a single piece of paper and took photos every time she made a small change. She then put the about 100 photos together in an 8-second video.

Caption: Kaisal S.

She hopes that the art she creates inspires others in the same way that she is inspired when she looks at art. She said, “Through art, you are able to communicate with people in a way that’s very different than written or spoken language. You can connect and reach people in an entirely different way, and you can and should use that position to share important messages and stories.” Let’s give it a thought and express our messages and stories to the outside world through art. This young girl is definitely an inspiration to many of us.

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