Arch Budzar is a rising star in the contemporary art milieu. Their playful mixed media works have a naive childlike feel due to their vibrant colours and texture that reminisces a child’s crayon or coloured pencil drawing. Yet, when viewers pay close attention to the depicted figures and carefully read the words written in certain pieces, there exists a surprising depth in what seems like is.

Born and raised in Appalachia, United States, Budzar explores the intersection between poetry and visual art through mysticism and occult icons. She draws everything from goats to rabbits, wolves, angels, demons, and Baphomets who encourage their audiences to be kind to themselves. These characters urge their viewers to take care of their mental health, upholding boundaries and telling narratives that are kinder to the self reflecting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Good Health and Well-Being.  

Come, celebrate its harvest with me by Arch Budzar. Image courtesy of @archbudzar/Instagram.

Budzar’s work comes in many iconographic series of talking animals, including a series of talking goats. Metal enthusiasts and goth subculture followers, who embrace the darker aesthetics in a positive light, have repurposed the goat's symbolism to represent humanity's fundamental positive characteristics. Whereas Budzar’s fascination with goats has perhaps derived from their fascination with Baphomet, a pagan deity depicted as having a goat’s head. Budzar views Baphomet’s image with admiration as they relate to its ability to represent dichotomies in one, neither light nor dark, neither divine nor human.

Budzar is an award-winning poet, having won several medals including The Library of Congress’s Letters to Literature, and Scholastic’s Silver Key Award for poetry, hence their pieces speak in a poet’s cadence. The artist’s goats create affirmations for themselves and their audiences,  to take care of themselves and accept kindness from others. But sometimes, they also ruminate on not-so-savoury thoughts, like not understanding life in society and holding out hope for people who’ve left their lives. 

Be there for the seasons. Be there for you. We’re all awaiting your arrival by Arch Budzar. Image courtesy of @archbudzar/Instagram.

If anything, these goats are a way to affirm Budzar’s thoughts, the good, the bad, and everything in between. They allow thoughts to pass through, to observe them, and eventually let them go. They allow not just the artist but also the observers of the piece to have peace of mind, and to understand that they are not alone in these overwhelming thoughts and emotions.

Another noteworthy series is their version of alchemical illustrations. These were a type of illustrations typically found in alchemical manuscripts from 16th to 19th century Europe. Alchemy was the pseudoscience pursuit of the elusive original matter, gold, from which all other (deemed polluted variants) originated. The illustrations on these manuscripts were composed symmetrically and featured natural landscapes, figures, and strange creatures of all sorts as one would expect from a medieval manuscript. 

Artwork by Arch Budzar. Image courtesy of the artist’s website.

Budzar appropriates these alchemical illustrations and applies her child-like style to it, creating a series of playful images where a central, often feminine presenting figure, is interacting with the natural world around them. Their expressions range from neutral to positive, but never negative. They seem to either be floating in an imaginary space or have their feet firmly planted in the flat landscape around them. 

One piece, The Phenomenon of Light, showcases yet again another feminine figure with long red hair and moons covering their private parts. In their outstretched hands are grapes and what appears to be a round mirror, which can be read as gluttony and vanity respectively. From the figure’s left breast, stars shoot out. A dynamic natural landscape plays out behind them, with curving waves and winding rainbows., “The characterization of science and magick turning the wheel of the natural world is probably like one of the freakiest things you can make art about,” Budzar wrote

The Phenomenon of Light by Arch Budzar. Image courtesy of @archbudzar/Instagram.

Intricating different experiences, and themes this piece can be about how human life impacts nature, how in consumption (as depicted by the grape), a lot of reflection (as depicted by the mirror) is necessary to be one with nature’s dynamics. 

Budzar’s illustrations are a playful way to engage in a game of associations with their viewers, allowing them to associate their thoughts and meanings with the different objects being presented. Hopefully acting as a way for people to sit with their thoughts observe them, and eventually let them go.

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