Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development rising junior Eli Kan is finding creative new ways to tell meaningful stories. The Studio Art major, who is minoring in Game Design, has crafted an artistic path with no limits. Eli’s art explores themes like queer and Asian identity, grief and death, and nature. They’ve cultivated a style that combines a wide range of techniques and materials to create entirely new effects in sculpture and comics.
“One of the benefits of using many different materials is being able to create works that aren’t limited by the nature of the medium. For instance, if I wanted to make something that allows light through, it would be difficult to do in wood or ceramic but much easier in glass. Using different materials also gives you the opportunity to combine them to create completely new visual experiences. And it means I never feel bored.”
“I decided to base my frog series on the joke ‘the chemicals in the water are turning the frogs gay.’ It started as an alt-right conspiracy theory. But the queer community quickly co-opted it both as a joke and a queer mascot. Once I started using frogs in place of humans in different scenarios, I really loved expanding the idea to all positions and times throughout society.”
“The inspiration for Beyond came from the Hozier song ‘Like Real People Do.’ I was intrigued by its underlying theme of resurrection and wanted to put a queer slant to it. Typically, I start out with a message or idea I want to convey, then I choose the best medium. Finally, I sketch possible iterations for the project and make the one that is most effective.”
“The Sun and Moon”
“I hope people feel a sense of joy and wonder after seeing my work. While it is certainly important to create art that addresses the tragedies the world is facing, I think people often use tragedy as a crutch to make art that seems more meaningful. I, for one, am tired of only seeing art and media about the suffering of queer folks, especially since it tends to ignore the nuances of culture and familial relationships. That’s why creating art that brings joy, when the world is so cynical, is important to me.”
“NYU has made a huge impact on my development as an artist. Studio Art gave me the opportunity to explore new mediums like glass and further develop my comics craft. I am very lucky to have had the chance to learn from many wonderful professors who helped me find my voice. I am excited to work on a long-form queer fantasy comic based on Rebirth. Right now, I am drafting the plot and putting thumbnails in different possible panel compositions.”