Like Simonova, who has created imagery about the toll of World War II, Bough found inspiration in history for one of her biggest works. “Boiling Point” tells the story of two important women in her life — her grandmother and Baba Sima, an elderly Russian friend. Bough used her iPhone’s time-lapse feature to record her work over two weeks, producing a nine-minute film whose soundtrack begins with a boiling kettle and ends with gramophone recording of the Russian song “Burnt by the Sun.”
“They both have a Cold War mentality,” said Bough. “My Grandma June lives on a farm on the Montana prairie that is bordered by Minuteman missile launch sites aimed at Russia. Baba Sima has lived with censorship and propaganda. I wanted to stay true to their parallel stories: the Russian Baba going about her daily life illustrating her humanity, and another lady doing the same in rural America. Reminders of the world they lived in are constantly resurfacing, but despite this, they absolutely love each other.”
Though Bough considered going to a dedicated art school, she chose to merge academic endeavors (advanced Russian, history of imperial Russia) found in small classes with projects that feed her creative spirit.
“I feel so fortunate — I don’t have a class with more than 12 students, and many have been with upperclassmen or graduate students,” she said. “I was concerned at first that Harvard might not have an art scene, but it does and it’s vibrant and unrestrained and so much more encompassing than I ever imagined it would be. I thought I’d be the lone artist and it’s the opposite. My friends are all intimidatingly creative.”
Bough wasn’t sure how she would continue to create sand art at Harvard, but lucked out with a roommate unperturbed by her lightbox and bags of fine-grain sand (slightly thicker than cocoa powder). She finds most of her material at hardware stores, but also experiments with coarser river sediment her sister scooped up near her family ranch in White Sulfur Springs.
“I’m usually a perfectionist, but the sand forces me to loosen up. You can’t get attached to an image that is about to be wiped clean,” she said.