CPP student artist blends music and art in zine feature

Much like a bow caressing the strings of a violin, a young Cal Poly Pomona artist is using his brushstrokes to produce music for the eyes, rather than the ears.

Ethan Moll, a fourth-year visual communication design student minoring in studio arts, was featured in the October edition of the Asian American Arts Zine, a publication that spotlights artists whose work embodies themes of Asian American culture. The two-page spread exhibits a fusion of portraiture and music from all over the world to generate a sense of identity.

“I fuse music identity with portrait concept because portrait art is the art of identity,” said Moll. “It’s the art of capturing what we see and how we interpret it.”

Moll submitted works from a series sparked by a portrait commissioned by a close friend that Moll created with a desire to escape his suburban surroundings, which he described as boring and repetitive. Inspired by his love for color, his goal with the abstract portraits was to create something bright and colorful.

“A zine was completely different than what I’ve tried,” he said. “I was really excited about it because I’ve never done something like that. I’d only ever done art shows.”

Ethan Moll, a fourth-year visual communication design student, featured his artwork depicting the beauty of Asian Americans for the Asian American Arts Zine last month. (Courtesy of Ethan Moll)

The portraits featured in the zine were inspired by a variety of instrumental music. When creating a new painting, Moll infuses his subject with the song or sound he associates with their personality. While many have asked the artist if he has synesthesia — the ability to blend two senses like feeling sounds or tasting shapes — he claims he does not have the condition but rather paints what he interprets from sounds.

The artist recalled his passion for art flourishing while growing up in Yorba Linda. As a child, Moll’s favorite medium was his father’s car keys — scratching shapes and scribbles in the wall of his home. His grandmother also played a vital role in fueling his love of artwork by encouraging his creativity and providing him with artistic activities like watercolor and drawing.

After spending some time in Esperanza High School concentrating on his academics and developing a love for music, Moll decided he wanted to focus on further evolving his artistic skills during his senior year with an AP art class.

“It wasn’t your typical art class where there’s a lesson plan and these (standards) you have to meet,” he said. “It was more of, ‘Hey Ethan what do you want to make today?’ And I just told her the concept and she walked me through it.”

Moll credits his art teacher, Lynn Magnin, for allowing him to experiment while teaching him to break away from the standards to create something different. The student-artist noted the class was the launching point into a career in art.

A pivotal element Moll believes is important to developing artists is the idea of failure. Moll attributes his success in painting to a lot of failed attempts, a lot of broken pencils and a lot of torn up sheets of paper.

“I find it’s important that you learn to forgive yourself. You learn to be patient with yourself and you have to tell yourself, ‘As long as I keep working at it, I’ll get there,’” he said.

Moll is currently extending his talents to those interested in obtaining free album cover art. Contact @molleesan on Instagram or ejmoll@cpp.edu for more information.

To view Moll’s feature in the October edition of The Asian American Art’s Zine, visit https://issuu.com/asianamericanartszine/docs/volume_202.

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