“Light illuminates the dark and broken places within us all, and creates an opportunity for healing.”
Aaron Novak works to show that the presence of light can transform even the darkest, deepest parts of ourselves. Growing up in a small river town in Iowa, Aaron enjoyed spending time in nature and shadowing his father, who was an artist himself. He recalls having a book report for school where he chose to do a shadow box. Carefully crafting a small model and placing it in the box, he wanted to add one more special effect: light.
His father showed him the basics of wiring and how to install the light into the box. Aaron reflects, “I think this was the moment that began my obsession with light and its use within art.” As his father’s assistant, he learned the basics of electronics through DIY projects. Aaron explains, “Although at the time I didn’t see this as art, I now use a lot of the things he taught me and showed me in my art.”
Aaron has always been artistic but took time away from the craft to serve his country in the army as Military police. Now medically retired, Aaron’s focus is on transforming his physical pain into beauty. Living in constant physical pain, Aaron wrestles with the difficulty of depression, which influences and powers his art process. He explains, “My art gives me a dialogue and outlet to express feelings and ideas that are often hard to express with words.” Continuing, he shares, “Art is a release of ideas, of frustration, stress, depression, anxiety, and pain. Without art I wouldn’t have a healthy way of dealing with any of those things.”
Using art as a therapeutic and creative outlet, Aaron’s overarching theme is simple but powerful: with brokenness, comes beauty. Often, the things we try to hide away are what makes us unique individuals. Because of this, Aaron is inspired by “broken” items, and hopes to give abandoned, found objects new life. He expresses, “I strive to take the brokenness and deterioration of life and present it in a new light. Using found objects and unconventional techniques, my goal is to not simply present the viewer with a piece of art, but offer a transformation of thought.”
Light is Aaron’s preferred medium, main focus, and most frequently used technique. He loves the depth and context that light can give to objects. Sometimes this means using LEDs in a project, other times it is the use of glass or shadows. Skilled in sculpture, photography, and cinematography, Aaron uses multiple avenues to express complex ideas.
“Believing that there is more to life than what we initially see on the surface, layers invite the viewer to dive deeper. Distortion and fractured images create a constant motion in an otherwise static object, offering a dialogue for those feeling trapped by inner turmoil. Found objects take broken and discarded things and offer a new life viewed through a different lens.”
Aaron hopes that his participation in ArtLifting can provide a new audience for his work as well as influence others in a positive way. “It's important for me to get the message out that no matter our afflictions or circumstances, we are all beautiful, even in our brokenness,” he expresses. Additionally, he hopes to provide for his family through his income. His proudest accomplishments are being a husband, a father of 5, an army veteran, and the first in his family to receive a college degree. When he’s not creating, he is often with his family, playing video games or creating videos for Youtube.
He dreams of more impactful projects where he can exercise his creativity in new ways. Making a site specific piece of art, creating a light installation or creating public art are things he would love to further explore. Lastly, he shares, “I’d also love to be known as an artist, and someone who tried to make the world a better place through art.”read more
Prints by Aaron Novak
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by homelessness or disabilities through the celebration and sale of their artwork. Learn more here.