Artist Neva Mikulicz sees a growing “anti-science” attitude in our culture, and it creeps her out.
Having recently retired from her day job at Digital Imaging Group where she had been responsible for troubleshooting and digitally retouching images in Photoshop, Mikulicz developed her skills for creating the nearly visually impossible. Art imitated life, as it tends to do, and over the years an interesting parallel surfaced in her studio: she was creating “issues’’ for herself to address in her own drawings.
“As artists in school, we learn perspective and all of the formal ways of drawing,” she says, “then all of a sudden, we start breaking the rules.”
For the Declassified body of work, she drew from her love of science fiction, sourcing inspiration from old photographs, childhood memories, and pop culture materials from the 1950s and ʼ60s. She began experimenting with drawing on an iPad, as well as using her trusty graphite and colored pencil. Ideas for the show, which includes an exhibition catalogue comic book, snowballed from there.
Viewers can’t help but be amused by the excruciatingly detailed, meticulous drawings of unwieldy subject matter. The twisted relationships between mass media hysteria and scientific discovery are unavoidable.
“My drawings are super realistic but are of things that never existed. Or they existed but not quite…I tweak it so that it doesn’t seem right,” says Mikulicz.
For example, in Hmmm, a Prismacolor drawing on paper, she depicts a mod urban apartment complete with orb-style ceiling lighting, floor to ceiling windows, and a balcony, all the better to view the flying saucers. The flat screen TV flickers with a newsreel.
In Roadtrip, Bucees, and Flying Saucer, also Prismacolor on paper, the Texas mainstay travel center sign flashes with color LEDs: red, green, and blue—the transport color code for go, stop, and, perhaps, UFO.
Growing up hearing (and seeing) stories of Bigfoot and UFO sightings, Godzilla movies, space travel, and other sci-fi or paranormal activity, Mikulicz has long been fascinated by the sense of camaraderie within these communities.
“I’ve pretty much always been one of those people on the outside looking in. What is it that makes some things or people seductive and others not?”
And surely, she wonders aloud, believing in UFOs and extraterrestrial life, and hanging out with other people who believe the same, is better than getting involved in something that is actually causing identifiable harm?
Not only has she made her career as an artist using that approach, she pokes at the beast to inject a little levity and enjoyment along the way.
“Especially in the time we’re having—this time of anti-science—it’s a good opportunity to have some fun with that.”