Drawings by Sarina Mitchel @ BankRI Gallery

BankRI Turks Head Gallery


“The Proboscis Show: New Drawings by Sarina Mitchel”

November 1 through December 5, 2018

A reception will take place on Gallery Night on Thursday November 15 from 5 to 8:30pm with live music by guitarist Mark Armstrong and light refreshments.


Petite, energetic and outgoing, Providence artist and illustrator Sarina Mitchel is the single artist in her family of engineers and scientists. As a young girl, Mitchel’s family was supportive of her talents and encouraged her to pursue the visual arts. The logic and purity of math appealed to her, but the visual arts called.

“I never saw myself as anything other than an artist,” Mitchel says. “Art was always so much more tangible than anything else I learned or did. There is a certain magic in creating something from nothing, in creating a universe of your own making.”

Arriving in Providence via suburban New Jersey, she set out to earn a degree in illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating in 2015. Currently at age 25 she works at the RISD Store while pursuing a full time career of making, exhibiting and selling her own artwork.

Mitchel lives at AS220 as an artist-in-residence and is active in the AS220 community. She has a studio on Acorn Street in the former administrative offices of the Nicholson File Factory. Artists Michael Townsend (of Tape Art fame) and Leah Smith (also of Tape Art) rented and refurbished a large section of the building that they then set out to fashion into a serious-minded and diverse art community. They interviewed Mitchel and accepted her into their group.

Having a studio space apart from her apartment was transformative for the young artist. In her studio she was able to focus, experiment and step out of her comfort zone. Being surrounded by other artists buoyed her and strengthened her creative resolve.

A particular inspiration was a book by Lynda Barry entitled Picture This. “Dense, collagy and beautiful,” the book inspired her to draw something simple and not worry about perfection. Holding on to this idea, Mitchel came up with a character she drew over and over in different circumstances – Ms. Proboscis.

Ms. Proboscis (pronounced pro-bah-sis), so named because of her pronounced nose, became something of an avatar for Mitchel. A little like an elephant or a polar bear, or even an anteater, she is oddly endearing, clumsy and wise. This simple line drawing became the basis for many of Mitchel’s sketches. When Mitchel was at a loss for an idea, Ms. Proboscis would make an appearance. When Mitchel found herself tired of juggling both job and career, Ms. Proboscis helped her through the exhaustion. More than a doodle and less than a portrait, Ms. Proboscis exists in an existential universe of Mitchel’s making.

“I’ve drawn her hundreds of times,” says Mitchel, “but always in a sketchbook or on a scrap of paper or in the corner of a page. This is the first time I’ve done framed pieces of her in a gallery setting.”

The drawings all feature Ms. Proboscis in different kinds of abstract and patterned settings. Mitchel uses the term “fractals” to describe her use of patterning. Sometimes the character is the fractal, repeated several times within the frame. At other times the patterns are inside and/or outside a single rendering of the character. The drawings are colorful, thoughtful and experienced all together have a psychedelic effect on the viewer. The use of glitter pens enhances this effect.

“Most or all of my finished pieces glitter and shimmer in the light,” Mitchel says. “I think this is so fitting for my personality and aesthetic. Using media that's glittery and iridescent makes me so happy – I want to impart that happiness to others.”

The gallery is located in Downtown Providence at One Turks Head Place. Hours are Monday through Wednesday, 8:30am to 4 pm, and Thursday through Friday, 8:30am to 5pm. The bank will be closed on Thanksgiving. For more information, call 401-574- 1330 or visit the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/BankRhodeIsland

The BankRI Galleries feature artworks of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts contemporary artists. Exhibitions are curated by Paula Martiesian, a Providence-based artist and arts advocate. For additional information and images, call Paula at 401-521-7634 or email her at artsong5354@gmail.com.


For more information, check out www.facebook.com/BankRhodeIsland/ or call 401 574-1330.