On a 10-hour road trip to Chicago this past summer with longtime friend Will Yeager, senior Russian and studio art double major, Eric Gabriel and Yeager passed the time with spur-of-the-moment rap battles.
“We would put on these MF Doom beats and rap back and forth for an hour at a time,” said Yeager, a senior trumpet performance major. “Eric would always put me to shame with his lyrical rhyme-smithery.”
“Sometimes, [drawing] is a very therapeutic thing,” Gabriel said. “It’s just kind of unconscious and very pleasing to make something very detailed.”
However, Gabriel attributes the other half of his inspiration to a sense of boredom with life.
“I think it’s just very easy to get bored with life in general,” he said. “And with art, you can just make something completely fantastical. That’s why video games are interesting – because you’re dealing with fantasy worlds or science fiction or things that are completely removed from reality.”
Along with Gabriel’s occasional use of Russian within his drawings, these components give his art a head-turning ambiance.
“There is something improvisatory about [Gabriel’s art]. He’ll just start with a line or a shape and keep adding to it over the course of days or weeks,” Yeager said. “Because he’s just drawing whatever comes to him, I think his art genuinely reflects whatever he’s feeling at the time and his personality. That’s why he has such a distinct style.”
Gabriel’s mother Lisa agrees, and said her son was an abstract thinker from an early age. She remembers his middle school geometry teacher saying his work “always amazing.”
“When [Gabriel] was two he started filling marble notebooks with drawings in pen and ink and he really hasn’t stopped,” she said.
Years later, Gabriel is still working on tessellations – one of his latest involves airplanes transforming into Jihadi John (a British alleged participant in select ISIS beheadings) with two Japanese hostages.
“If there’s actually an intention that I have … I’ll just sit and think ‘What is a way to have a message in this art in a way that’s not really contrived and obvious and political in a heavy-handed way and still make it aesthetically interesting?’” Eric asked.
He’s also been experimenting with screen printing, photographic positives, stencils and digital printers. His multimedia piece “Ouroboros 2.1” won second place in the campus-wide Sadat Art for Peace Competition.
“Eric’s more recent work incorporating ideas on social justice can be riveting,” Lisa said.
Alana Pedalino is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at Alana.firstname.lastname@example.org.