Saturday, May 8, 2010

Perfection is a Trifle Dull

The year of the senior studio program culminated in a thesis exhibition on April 9th, 2010. I showed work with Lucy Engleman, a sculptor and video artist. Above is our show poster, designed by Eliza Koch.

Below is my artist statement for the works I've been creating this year. Note- if you came to the show, this is a different artist statement than the one you saw there. As of right now, I like the following one better.

Ever since I was a small child, I have had intense physiological and emotional reactions in crowded public places. Until I spent a semester in Beijing, China in the Spring of 2009, I thought I had successfully dealt with these feelings. I arrived during the Chinese New Year and my first tourist excursion was to a Temple Festival. I have never in my life been someplace so densely packed with human bodies, bodies like a river or a stampede. I literally had to clutch my friends or risk being torn apart from them by the crowd. I was incredibly overwhelmed and needed to leave. The emotion I felt during that experience was the most intense of my entire five months in China.
Since returning to the United States, I have worked to visually express that emotion and the related thoughts it conjures up. I am investigating issues of human density, populations, and personal identity within a crowd. While drawing and sculpting literally thousands of people, it is impossible to not ponder issues of human consumption: the physical space we take up, the air we breathe, and the waste we leave behind.

Show photos

Here is the completed Tags piece- with me standing in it for staffage. I wanted the tags, filled with faces, to come around the viewer and feel like a hug or at least give the impression of a densely populated space.
Detail of some of the paintings. I started this project in January of this year and painted nearly 500 tags with gouache. Each tag only had one person painted on each one.This piece was on the wall perpendicular to the tags. I made 8 'dioramas' out of paper and hung them on strings. Poking through the outside of the box were metal pins. Most were folded down, but others stuck straight out, creating a somewhat uninviting exterior.
Each of the pins were actually part of a 'pin ticket' (a tiny 11/2" by 2" card) that I had done drawings on and then pushed through to the outside of the box.
Most of the pin tickets (which say "Sale Price" at the top) also had tiny pen drawings on them- many of people, either singular or together, but some of feet, bananas, pets, bikes, and other everyday objects. At the back of each box was a mirror, so when the viewer looks inside the box they see a reflection of the interior space, making it look twice as big. They also see their own eye reflected in the mirror, making the viewer become a part of the work.

The third piece I included in the show were the clay faces that I have been working on since October 2009. Inspired by Daumier caricature busts, I made 40 faces out of air-drying clay.

A close up and a side view. This winter I started making some of the faces smaller, or 'submerged', so they didn't have ears showing, or only a nose and some eyes. I was interested in making the faces look like they were emerging from water, but despite many, many tries, I was unable to make that happen for the show. In the end, I'm glad I just showed them how they were without trying to add any other materials.
Each face was unique. Some of them were silly, like the one above, but most had average expressions of content, happiness or confusion.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Installation of tags piece

These photos are what Fisher Gallery looked like at the start of the installation process for my senior studio exhibition. My show, titled "Perfection is a Trifle Dull" opened April 9th, 2010 (just getting up photos now though, heh) and stayed up until April 12th.
This is my show partner, Lucy Engleman, and our professor Susan Umbenhour having a seat on Lucy's sculpture in order to provide pressure to help glue adhere properly.

These pictures are from the two weeks prior to my show and show the installation process of the Tags piece. I first built a frame out of chicken wire and painstakingly tied 1,200 tags onto it. The hallway that you see was about 5 feet wide and 8 feet deep. I painted many of the tags (which are roughly the size of an index card) with portraits of people- some of them I painted while looking at pictures or people walking by my studio window, and others were just people I imagined.

More pictures of the final piece to come soon!