Sunday, November 7, 2010

One hour of sleep later

All right, first of all, I should apologize. I have not updated this thing in forever. It’s not because I’ve given up on it or have lost any interest. It’s just because I’ve been so unbelievably busy, which the rest of this post will certainly confirm. However, I am sorry.

So almost two weeks ago on a pleasant Monday evening, I was working in our art studio on campus. I was finishing my work for my figure drawing class and feeling unusually pleased by my dedication because I was actually working on a project that wasn’t due within the next two hours. I had a whole other day to finish it, yet here I was, finally acting like an adult, and getting it done beforehand. Amazing.

Around 9:45 pm I get a call from my good friend Heather who’s in my art class taught by Peter Everett. She explained that she was checking up on me since she was sure I must be so stressed and busy working on my stuff for my big group critique in Peter’s class tomorrow. I froze. What? I mean, WHAT? Shock. Then panic.

I checked the last updated syllabus Peter (art professors at BYU always go by their first name. I can’t think of a single exception) had sent, and sure enough, he had changed my group critique from November 8 to October 26. Trying to explain my predicament, I wrote Peter a quick email, and then, consigned to the worst, started to pack up all my stuff in preparation for an all-nighter.

I was bummed. First of all, I only had my one piece. I had started two other pieces, but they definitely weren’t far enough along to show in a critique. I could only present my self-portrait. Secondly, I hadn’t pulled an all-nighter in months, and I wasn’t sure if I was still capable. Sure, in the past I made my best artwork somewhere between the desperate hours of 2:00 am and 7:00 am, but now I had become this strange individual who went to bed at 11:00 pm and woke up at 5:30 am. I didn’t know if I could do it.

Twelve hours after these self-doubts began berating my brain, I was sitting in class on one of those uncomfortable stools the art department insisted on buying, my work taped to the wall, with 15 other students and my professor staring at it while rapidly writing down their reactions. My hands resembled a five-year old’s glue bottle, and I was absentmindedly pulling off layers of glue and acrylic gel medium from off my fingertips. I was dead tired.

I was happy with certain parts of the piece. I liked how from a distance, the paper almost looked like paint. I loved certain areas where multiple layers of paper had been repeatedly built-up and where the charcoal lines couldn’t be more appropriate. I acknowledged to myself that the background was still way too noisy and confusing and that the composition wasn’t much of anything. There were still lots of things to fix, yet inside, I really did like it and felt that something good had happened to that weathered piece of butcher paper that formed the foundation of the collage.

The critique went well, and I admit I was surprised. Someone even wanted to trade some of his art for my piece. Peter felt it was undeniably successful, and for me Peter’s words are everything. I respect him most. He said that even though it was obviously autobiographical, he could put himself in it. He added that it avoided being gimmicky (my greatest fear) and just felt honest and sincere.

In other words, phew.

I came home and noticed that my room was a wreck. There was paper everywhere. I cleared off my bed, filled up a trash bag or two, and crashed.

So that’s the newest development. Right now I consider that piece half-finished. There’s still a lot to do, but I think it’s moving in the right direction. I’ve been working on my two other pieces and will be posting pictures of them soon. My goal is to end the semester with four complete collages, but we’ll see how things go. I’ve been approved to present them in a show around March, which should be really awesome for me. But yeah, there’s not much else to say ‘cept that I need to get to work.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Straight from the studio

All right, the following are some photos from the studio. What you see is very much in progress and not even close to its completed state, so do not, do not, do not judge this as a completed concept or piece. There, got my qualifier over with (phew), and now I’m ready to actually talk about the art.
This is the first of a series of word portraits, and I plan to have at least six done for my show next semester. This idea has been stuck in my brain for the last five or six months and soaks up most of my thoughts. My mind just won’t move on to anything else.

These portraits result from a very frustrating and confusing period of my life. Filled with over ten thousand thoughts that were splitting my psyche into two, I felt very overwhelmed by my own brain and very incapable of expressing everything that was inside of me. Around April I decided to start jotting these thoughts down, and soon the project filled ten pages and five months. This collage combines those written thoughts with visual language.
This particular piece began as a record, a way of describing and exploring a specific period of my life, but it has since developed into something a little bit more universal (I love when that just naturally happens). The heart of this series is no longer about autobiography but rather centers on all the unseen elements that make each of us human. In this particular work, it’s thoughts. No one can see what I’m thinking, but gosh, heaven knows that a large part of my personality either comes from or generates my thoughts. But no one can see that part of me! No matter how hard they look!

Then came the eye-opening, brain-widening realization that every day all those people I pass—you know, the ones in all the honking cars or riding slow bikes or obstinately walking in front of me as I’m trying to get around them on the sidewalk—yeah, all those people, all those strangers that can be so frustrating when you’re in a hurry—well, they’re thinking just as many thoughts as I am! They’re just as complicated, just as diverse, just as interesting and just as deserving of attention as everything filling up my brain, which consequently means people are just as complicated, diverse, interesting, and deserving of attention as I am. Crazy!

This is something I believe we all know, but it’s not something we all think about. We’d rather just see faceless strangers because then we can get as angry, insensitive, and annoyed as we’d like with them.

Like in my case. Very few people knew about the bewildering, wearisome months that produced this collage. Only a few friends and family members were aware of it. Yet, during that time I passed hundreds of strangers every day that saw me, that probably even noticed me, but nevertheless were ignorant of my circumstances and thus apathetic of them. I now realize that I am not an exception and am just as unaware of and indiferent to my fellow human beings.

So I guess in a way these collages are about raising awareness. Honestly, we could go to any museum and look at a dozen beautifully painted portraits. We’d rightfully dub them masterpieces. However, if we'd stop and think, we'd realize that we just looked at a dozen strangers. No matter how skillful the depiction, how accurate the proportions, in the end it is an unfamiliar face, and nothing in that painting will expose that person’s identity to us. It’s just another person we passed.

Most portraiture concerns itself with articulating the outward and not the inward, the physical instead of the intangible. My art concentrates on the latter because I am certain that is what makes us human. I don’t want my portraits to represent one more stranger.

So here’s the first one. All you can see right now is the first layer of paper. Like I said earlier, it’s very incomplete. There will be at least five more in the next couple months. Stay posted for further developments!

And let me know if you have any questions or comments or just what you think (even if it's negative). I always need a fresh view of my work.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy news!

So, this has absolutely nothing to do with whatever I wrote one post ago, but I wanted to let the whole world (actually, probably just Provo) know that The Communal is displaying/selling one of my intaglio prints in their restaurant. So if you’re looking for a literal or visual feast, stop on by and enjoy! They’re on
100 N University Ave.

Or you can just look at the photo above. Whatever works best for you.  

Sunday, October 10, 2010

An Invitation

So, this is an art blog, and I will primarily focus on my artistic processes and how my current concepts and works are developing. I understand if you’re wondering why out of all the million things and people and events and thoughts and schedules and feelings that create the humming rhythm of my life I would spotlight this one small aspect, but quite frankly, the only thing that really needs this kind of public attention is my artwork. It was hard enough to convince my boyfriend to make our relationship Facebook official. To make everything public, including all those tiny tidbits that engender meaningful experiences, would probably be even more complicated and more unnecessary. I’d rather you just call me if you’re really that curious.

I am firm believer, however, that art is meant to be shared. I have sat through countless conversations in which one artist or another passionately states, “Art is a conversation. It’s a dialogue. The viewer and the work must speak to each other.” I guess I shouldn’t be the only one “talking” to my art. Unfortunately, I am terrified to share my art, partly because it’s just as personal as my thoughts and feelings, but mainly because it can be criticized so effortlessly. My thoughts and feelings usually don’t undergo thorough critiques. My artwork does every other week. Yet, despite these hard facts, it’s really important to me that I don’t keep it all to myself. I want you to see this. I want you to get it. If you don’t, I want to know because I want to make it better. I find this essential.

I also feel like I shouldn’t just show you the finished product. That’s cool and all, but that’s not the purpose of this blog. I want to show you how everything develops, moving beyond the actual work to the concepts and ideas that evolve with it. Trust me, it’d be so much easier for me to just give you my artwork as a whole, completed, satisfying, finished product, but I want to take my viewers on the journey I undergo every time I pick up a paintbrush (or whatever I’m using these days).

So, this is your invite. Consider yourself officially welcomed to this small but significant part of my life.