Jan 9, 2010

Senior Year Paintings

small paintings (8" by 12"):


“Underwater Dream”
Wood frame, string, beads, bells, seashells, washers, earrings          
This installation interprets Kaitlyn Hay’s dream space: an underwater space in which dolphins swim and echolocate to their kin.  I wanted to force the viewer to become a dolphin and swim through the sea of strings.  As the viewer passes through, the objects clink and clank against each other, leaving an audible record of where they have just passed.  

Coffee cups are ordinary objects that intrigue me, functioning both as comforting symbols of compassion and also of adulthood since my parents drink coffee every morning before work.  For this project, I wanted to play with the cups’ possibilities as materials.  For days, I stacked them, glued them, and taped them, letting their shapes and volumes inform my artist choices in the process.  The accumulation grew, seemingly of its own accord, into this ship-like form.  After mounting it on a cardboard base enforced with foam, I floated it in the Woodrow Wilson fountain on the night of November 11th.  Dancers – also bedecked with reflective tape —accompanied the piece, dancing around the fountain to various types of music.   Originally, I conceived the piece as about coffee fueling us like wood for a fire, but then it became more about the compassion that fuels humanity.  The intended glowing of the sculpture was meant to show a gentler type of burning: a warming of the soul.  The cups were like ordinary people that became transformed once they were lashed together in the alchemical process called art.  They became something more, something wondrous and little strange.  The cups were taken on a voyage that completely altered the way people saw them as objects; they were reinvented from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

“The Sniper” or “SARG”
 Plaster Bandages, t-shirts, cups, and plastic bags
This self-portrait, “SARG”, is at once an erasure and containment of self.  By casting the body as a found object, I distort it and record it.  I leave behind a white cocoon of a body – a shell that is simultaneously me and not me.  Exemplary of this confusion were people’s responses to the project.  While transporting the piece to its show spot, friends conjured several names for the yet untitled “SARG”.  Some said with a chuckle, “hey, we got to move YOU downstairs”.  Some called it “it”, or “him”, or “her”. 

The piece seems to become something other than me due to the process of casting myself by myself.  This process left a visual record of how well I know my own body just from touch.  The holes, disfigurations, and bumps indicate how difficult it is to truly understand your own body and identity.   The result was so odd and interesting that I vacillated on whether or not it even represented me or rather an idea I had about myself.

This idea stemmed from a time in my life when I considered joining the Army but was unable to reconcile myself to the thought of shooting someone.  I therefore originally chose to depict myself as a soldier kneeling in the shooting position but without a gun.  The position was meant to symbolize a person ready for purpose but without the means to implement it.  

“What’s in a name?”
By naming a previously anonymous building after myself, I explored what it means to name something.  I reversed the cycle of bestowing an appellation; I took fame instead of giving it.  The building did receive the honor of being named after a famous or rich person.  Instead, I stole the honor of the building by putting my name on it.  Since ‘name’ means legacy, tradition, honor, and identity, it also means possession.  People use names to claim, to own, and to control something or someone.  I put my weak claim on the building (the sign was torn down within 12 hours) to reveal what naming means in Princeton.  Not anyone gets the chance to name or to claim a place, but a place can claim and control those who enter it.

The piece clearly had humorous connotations since I pretended I was important enough to merit a building of my namesake, but the joke that was made came from a deep desire to leave my name or mark on Princeton and on society as a whole.  It is a humorous response to a fear of not having permanent meaning. 

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