Zoe Bentley

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Line by line, frame by frame, senior Zoe Bentley creates fluid motion in the form of animation, one of a plethora of artistic forms she uses to express herself. Animation, however, is unique in the level of spontaneity required.

Bentley has had a long history with visual art, having started drawing when she was around five years old.

“It started as something I thought I couldn’t do,” Bentley said. “I, sooner or later, kept doing it, and practice makes perfect.”

She recalls that her homework and folders were strewn with doodles, and she admits that even to this day, her greatest inspiration comes when she is not being asked to create.

“I’ll say that when I’m being mandated to do something, I lose my mojo and stop creating, but when I’m told I’m not supposed to, or I’m simply not told that I can’t, I immediately am inspired,” Bentley said.

As an artist, she works in several mediums, from paints and pastels to digital imaging software. Bentley, however, said she prefers animation and comics to some of the more traditional art forms she has worked in.

“I do like painting, but it seems to be too decided. I’ve spent so much time meditating and planning it before I start that by the time I’m done with it, I’ve lost my initial fire,” she said. “But with animation, it’s fast and exciting. I’ve created a frame, a complete product, in 20 seconds, so it’s fresh.”

Photo provided by Zoe Bentley
Photo provided by Zoe Bentley

 

Art teacher Eric Latimer, who taught Bentley through her freshman and sophomore years, saw that she had a strong enthusiasm for art. In both his comics class and animation classes, he found her skills numerous and consistent.

“It never felt that her work was incomplete, or not well thought out,” Latimer said.

It seems that Bentley had no shortage of stories or motivation for work. She said that while she enjoys making art for friends or for fun, her work often relates to her past experiences.

“Especially with animation, I use art a lot to express, in a very thinly-veiled way, what I’m going through or have been through,” Bentley said. “It helps get out my thoughts.”

Keira Flynn-Carson, Zoe’s English and social studies teacher, also recalled an example of Zoe’s artistic ability shown in class work.

“The project was to look at a problem in society and create a sort of monster story about it,” she explained. “She drew a comic, and while some people might have known she was an artist—I didn’t—everyone’s jaw dropped when they saw it.”

Both Latimer and Flynn-Carson have seen growth over Bentley’s time as an artist, both in her skills and in her ability to express herself.

“She’s able to articulate more,” Latimer said. “She’s comfortable expressing what she’s trying to create.”

Flynn-Carson recalled an instance where Bentley used her art to express her growth and experiences.

 

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Photo provided by Zoe Bentley

 

“There was one visual representation of her where she was ripping this sort of barrier, and creating this space for herself,” Flynn-Carson said. “It was so clear that it was her, and so clear that it was something she needed to do for her, with what she was going through.”

Bentley reflected on her earlier endeavors in art and what she is capable of now. While Bentley sees herself continuing to do art, she does not see herself doing so in a school setting.

“I don’t think I’d get a lot out of majoring in art or going to an arts school because I wouldn’t be able to do good work.” Bentley reasoned. “I intend to do other stuff I’m interested in; math, gender studies, et cetera, and I’ll do art on the side. After all, I do my best work when I’m not being told to do it.”

 

Daniel Hayes can be contacted at [email protected]