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Artists Abroad: Bella Farren

Chasing stories has inspired Bella Farren `24 to get to know strangers and look for unexpected connection. She has been an artist for years, and crafting her skills has been rewarding and important to her. “Art has always been with me, but something about being abroad, in a new place, surrounded by strangers is exciting to me. I can push myself to meet new people, learn about someone’s story,” she said.

During her semester at the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan, Ireland, the junior art major is learning to explore a new part of the world through drawing and painting. 

“There is still so much I do not know or have not explored yet in life, so getting other perspectives is interesting to me. And I’ve come to understand that life is meant to be shared, with friends, family, a significant other, or maybe a stranger you talked to for 30 minutes at a bar in Galway,” Farren explained. 

Her time abroad so far has been filled with observation and experimentation. In painting the human experience, she said it’s a journey and she appreciates the learning process of capturing the light she sees in people. 

“I’m basically really interested in painting the human experience, and specifically my journey here abroad and how I have met so many kind people through dancing.”

Along with venturing to find striking scenes to paint, she has made the most of more studio time than she’s had in Waterville, where there are always other classes or things pulling at her attention. Devoting all this time to painting has helped Farren develop her practice in a sense that extends beyond painting. 

“I’m discovering that I am very interested in painting and drawing people and trying to capture their stories, especially those who have made an impact on me,” she said. This impact is all around for an artist who observes people everywhere she goes. 

“Everyone in Ireland has been so kind and welcoming. The people here have put my faith back in humanity,” she said.

Collecting stories to paint has enhanced a sense of community in a faraway place, and she recommends looking for this serendipitous stumbling over something worth capturing wherever you are. Her favorite locations to find such occasions include nightclubs, dance halls, pubs, streets, and cow pastures. Among stunning rural scenery, painting people in moments of joy has had a meaningful impact on the artist. 

“I feel like it’s so important to have connection, especially in this often crazy world of ours. I just realize that people inspire me, everyday people.”


~ Molly George `23

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