Miguel Arzabe
Miguel Arzabe

Art Practice M.F.A. candidate Miguel Arzabe is a West Oakland urbanite who loves the outdoors.  He documents his wilderness hikes on video and in abstract paintings, and has also brought the experience back through a medium many of us have tried and, over the years, mostly forgotten: Etch A Sketch, the plastic mechanical drawing toy on which you guide a stylus to scrape aluminum powder off the screen, forming an image with lines. (Don’t like the result?  Flip it, shake it, and start anew.)  Ohio Art, the manufacturer, has given the device technological upgrades over the years, but Arzabe works with vintage specimens he bought second-hand in a Wyoming thrift shop.

In addition to his landscapes, Arzable has etched portraits of nearly a hundred friends, relatives and strangers, which he preserves in photographs.  See how he does it in this video and read more about his work in this recent profile.  More samples of his work can be found on his website.

(Originally published in eGrad, March 2009. Arzabe received his M.F.A. in 2010.)

A Michael Arzabe Etch a Sketch portrait held by its subject
fractal painting
“Infinite Regress,” a 2007 Arzabe work in acrylic, spray paint, and gel transfer