I can already tell things are getting more and more busy each week considering I didn’t even log last week like I normally do. Lately I’ve been trying to understand my work in terms of dialogue and how exactly that can be conveyed to the viewer. Upon recently I have become interested in the act of hoarding and the rituals and stigmas associated with it. I myself have the tendency to hoard things I feel have artistic use; which is quite evident by all the items building up on the outside of my studio. However, creating a dialogue using essentially junk has proven to be a challenge.
I had my first critique yesterday and I feel it went well. The feedback was abundant; and I was able to understand how viewers were interpreting my work more thoroughly. It seemed that the biggest issue that needs refining is the dialogue of the work. Without any obvious language existing the pieces become just piles of garbage. Overall, I’m glad I had a number of experiments on display and presented them in a uncomfortably intimate setting; forcing the viewer to be up close and personal with the work.
I sat down with my mentor earlier today to discuss possible routes I could take the dialogue of my work and right away I started to think about labeling and documentation. What if I documented every single scrap of junk that I acquire into a spread sheet identifying the precise date, time, material, size, and intrinsic value. Not only that, but go further as to labeling each piece of junk with an identification. After which I would proceed to construct my piece. Not only would this emphasize the “preciousness” of each item in relation to the rituals of hoarding, but possibly create a situation where I could discuss further social issues using the hierarchy I assigned to each piece of junk. I feel like I’m peeling away the layers of an onion and getting down to the grittiness of my work; and that’s quite exciting.
Below is a Manifesto pertaining to my work process and current pieces.
-Experiment, Experiment, Experiment; it helps to flush out ideas.
-Don’t get caught up in how you think the final product should turn out.
-Sometimes you have to break shit.
-Fight and struggle with your work; it means you’re on the right path.
-Always be personal with your work; it’ll show.
-If something doesn’t feel right, change it.
-If it still doesn’t feel right, destroy it. It might look better in pieces.
-Everything holds the potential to become art.
-Live in your studio; it helps facilitate your work.
-If raccoons show up in your studio, feed them expired Pringles.
-Lastly, have fun making your art. That’s the most important part.
I did stumble upon this manifesto by the Bread and Puppet Theater from 1984 that resonated with me. Click
Over the last couple days I have been constructing a new piece; completely sculptural and made entirely out of the junk that I’ve been acquiring. Attempting to convey a sense of obsessiveness, I had used zip ties to hold it altogether. Surprisingly enough it was extremely sturdy and well balanced; (by this time it was about 7ft. tall). However, as I sat back in my chair and stared at it I felt a sense of emptiness. The same kind of emptiness that some of my undergraduate pieces had exuded. The piece was just a pretty sculpture, lacking any real emotion. Whenever I feel my work has become monotone I get agitated.
So, I became agitated. I dragged the piece out of my studio like some freshly taxidermy animal and heaved it at the raised curb on the 2nd floor ramp. The funny thing was that I had built it too well, and it took numerous attempts to break it down even a little. What was, I guess you could say “beautiful”, about the whole ordeal was that the zip ties kept most of the piece together, though the internal structure had completely folded in on itself. Rather than standing tall, mighty, and hollow, it was now curled in a ball wreathing in pain. It finally had some life in it. I dragged it back to my studio and proceeded to pour colored clear coat on it. I will continue to follow up with a few more layers of color over the next couple days.
I’m very much still in the experimental phase of this journey. However, as I continue trying out new processes with my work, I’m starting to understand when it’s okay to be complacent, and when you just have to break shit.
I am noticing the weeks are going much faster, because the last one was a complete blur. However, it was also very productive. I’ve been experimenting with different processes in an attempt to flush out ideas; some of which have been working and others not so much. As I’ve continued doing research on different brain and behavior disorders I couldn’t help but feel a slight constricting feeling. This feeling has been forcing me to ask the question: What exactly about my art do I find enjoyable? The answer to that is simply: the process of making.
I admit, I have numerous coping mechanisms. I enjoy collecting random objects and items no one else wants. Does that scream hoarding tendencies? To an extent sure. However, I see a potential use in everything; despite it becoming somewhat embarrassing having so much crap laying around. The act of pouring paint over objects is incredibly therapeutic as well. I’m able to zone out completely and the world around me becomes invisible. Layering, bonding, forcing items together; it is one of the few things that free me. So, as I sit at my desk reading through multiple PDF documents regarding illnesses, why do I feel more and more disconnected from my work?
I brought this up to my mentor Gordon Lee and he gave me some great advice. Rather than making it a top priority to visually convey mental illness, why not use my artistic processes for coping as a vehicle for a bigger theme? My coping mechanisms could become the aesthetic for a whole new subject matter. Essentially adding a second layer of dialogue to my work. I had never even considered that option, but it made so much sense. It presents me with brand new challenges completely, but on the same token I feel it is a route that won’t confine me to a set narrow path later on. With all of that in mind, I’m continuing with the pieces that are currently in the process of being constructed. However, I’m excited to approach my new work that follows. I guess you can say I had an “AH HA” moment.
Artist include: Three Studio, Lee Bontecou, Ruben Nieto, Robert Rauschenberg, Yee Sookyung, Takashi Murakami, Alberto Burri.
Below are a few influences that have impacted my work.
- Thrift Stores
- Custom Car Culture
- Japanese Pop Culture
This week was quite eventful; full of good discussions and new experiments. Early in the week I met with CCAD professor Melissa Vogley Woods to review my portfolio and discuss the trajectory of my work. I expressed my initial concern with falling back into my “comfort zone”, but was given reassurance to just go crazy with experiments and to not worry about critiques. So, I started to do just that. I had a couple paint tarps laying around and decided to use them as my base; affixing them to my studio wall in a manner that would make it impossible to remove in one piece. I have always enjoyed working with non-archival materials. There’s something rather beautiful and ephemeral about giving art a short lifespan; knowing that in a years time it will most likely be withering away.
Working with my themes of mental illness, I kept reviewing in my head how I can make the piece convey a sensation of obsessiveness and frustration. I began scribbling the number 12 over and over on the face of the tarps. Without going too into detail, I was 12 years old when a lot of the shit in my life started to hit the fan. Using the number 12 seemed fitting personally. As I rapidly scribbled on the tarps, I also began tearing and slashing at the piece. After which I attempted to staple the wounds back together. Applications of acrylic and clear coat were then poured over the tarp sections; flowing down the face as well as behind the piece. It is very much still a work in progress, but I feel it is off to a promising start. I have also been reading up on studies performed by psychologist Martin Seligman; particularly his research of Learned Helplessness and its contribution to understanding the development of Depression. While I could easily discuss my own work from a personal perspective, having research to back my own experiences is always beneficial.
Here is a brief PDF of an experiment conducted by Martin Seligman: Click
When I first began working in my studio space I felt rather intimidated to say the least. Considering I used to produce work on top of my bed, having this much open area is a whole new experience for me. With the change of scenery came artistic struggles as well. I felt as though I was resorting back to what felt comfortable for me; producing work very similar to what I had made during my undergrad. However, I no longer felt a personal connection with that work anymore. The past is the past.
After having excellent discussions with possible mentors, I put the reminiscent pieces off to the side and emptied my space of clutter. I began to look toward myself more than I ever had previously. What am I attempting to convey?
- Sensations associated with mental illness
- Depression, anxiety, OCD (the vicious love triangle)
- What does it feel like to have these common illnesses?
- How do I cope with them myself?
- How do I put them into visual form?
I started working outside of my comfort zone today and I am already seeing promise. I want to keep experimenting and push myself away from what I’m complacent with.