Keep grinding

Welp, my final critique with a small group of faculty is a short 10 days away.  I am anxious as I have a lot of work to do, but also keen to get the critique finished so that I can then focus on really preparing my work for final install for CHROMA.

I am currently TAing a photography course, Material Studies, and we were just recently introduced to a very interesting alternative photo process called Mordant printing.  Essentially a photo sensitive liquid is made from a mixture of Potassium Dichromate and water.  The liquid is applied to fabric, dried, and then a large negative is sandwiched between the fabric and a piece of glass and exposed to UV light.  This produces the image directly on fabric.  The image is then rinsed and the final process involves hand dying fabric using natural dyes- synthetic dyes do not work for this process.

Since I have been using the textiles printer a lot to print images directly on fabric- this method provides an alternative avenue and also incorporates an interesting piece of domestic work that I think could be a very interesting process piece for my work.  Let me explain…

 

Lately I have been using my images from the textile printer and finger crocheting them into large crocheted photographs.  The images themselves aren’t totally recognizable, however, I am interested in the idea of breaking down the domestic space through ripping and cutting of the image, and then reconstructing it through the crochet process. This is fairly simple but makes slight reference to a domesticated craft or work process through crochet that I find relevant.  With the Mordant printing I can take it even a step further.  By printing images on fabric through this alternative process there is hand washing of the fabric involved- similar to when I use the textile printer, but then the last step- hand dyeing- is where I believe my process can really also speak to the content of the work.  In order to use a natural dye, I can buy them online, OR I can take actual existing objects and “cook” them in order to prepare the natural dye.  For example, onions skins are great for fabric dyeing, avocado pits, flowers, carrot tops, leaves, insects, roots, etc.  In order to create the dye the aforementioned objects need to be heated to a certain temperature and “cooked,” in which then the liquid produced will be used as a dye bath.  The idea of having to complete the domestic task of “cooking” in order to produce the work creates a compelling layer in relation to my interests of woman’s work and domesticity.

I have some concrete ideas that I am going to pursue this week and really hit the ground running.  I almost feel hesitant to make something that I want to without having run the idea by someone yet- which is odd, because as an artist I have always made things on my own but I think a little part of grad school has embellished some sort of need for approval into my thinking- but not today!  (And no one at CCAD has ever said to me that I need their approval to make something, to be clear).  I am excited to really grind things out and get the week going!

Stay Tuned!

Words of wisdom

The last two weeks have been quite a whirlwind.  I had a studio visit with photographer Laura Larson prior to her artist talk and it was refreshing to have someone with no prior knowledge of me or my work look at what I am creating.  Almost objectively she provided me with some great feedback, questions to think through, and as always, artists to look at.  Her visit was a great precursor to my upcoming critique.

Prior to that meeting, I met with  CCAD professor and staff member, John Cairns as well as my mentor and CCAD Professor Danielle Julian Norton.  John and I met to discuss some technology troubleshooting and the content/concept of my work.  As always, he was encouraging and uplifting.  Prompting me to push further within the work and continue to make it stronger with its content.  Danielle likewise has really been pushing me to further my concept.  There is one piece that she believes is missing that could really build the concept and fully flesh out the work.. a piece I am still looking to develop.  She also is very encouraging about the discussion points of my work and the development of the language around it.  Her questions, curiosities, and points always leave me with more to explore and investigate which I very much appreciate.

My critique the following week was equally as constructive as these two meetings.  Leading up to the critique I was excited for my peers reaction and really looking forward to hearing their feedback and their thoughts on how I could continue to move forward.  I presented two video iterations of myself ironing in a variety of fashions.  What I mean by that is that in one video I am in a way going through the mundane task of ironing in a bored uninterested manner, seeming slightly frustrated.  In the other video I become a variety of characters.  A woman dressed for work, a woman in lounge clothes, a woman in pajamas, and a woman who has just come from the gym.  Within this video the task of ironing is much more apparently frustrating.  My motions are much more violet (if you can imagine a violent way in which to iron), and my frustration with the task/notion of the task is much more apparent.  Both videos were projected onto a gallery wall, the first one projected through a silk print of a video still taken from the actual video.  I also presented 4 photographs in which I was basically overtaken by the clothing that I was ironing and presented the ironing board with the mass of shirts in the corner of the space.  (My peers felt these were both unnecessary additions- the videos served enough purpose and I don’t necessarily disagree).

I am keen to continue with the video work and perhaps really take some time to develop these female characters more thoroughly with really thought out and intentional costuming/dress.  As I move forward I plan to continue to use the task of ironing as a tool to create discussion and bring to light the oppression of women within domesticity.  I hope to develop my video work further and really broaden my skill-set as an artist within this realm as well as really be able to develop the language and intentionality between all of my choices and decisions aesthetically moving forward.

Women’s work: Blue collar

“A blue collar is a working-class person historically defined by hourly rates of pay and manual labor. A blue collar worker refers to the fact that most manual laborers at the turn of the century wore blue shirts, which could hold a little dirt around the collar without standing out.”

 

Not only do I find an interesting metaphor in silk with its transparency and the transparency or invisibility of women’s work- but also I find a very interesting parallel between women’s work and blue collar work.  So often blue collar work is overlooked and undervalued, similar in the way housework and women’s work is overlooked and undervalued.  Both receive very little praise or appreciation for the work that they complete.

 

I am anxious to see how I can make this metaphor part of my work as well…the ideas are brewing.

Better Late than Never…

I have been meaning to post on here with updates about my work for the past week and a half but unfortunately keep putting it on the back burner- but better late than never they always say right?

I had my first critique on January 25th, the second week of school.  I was eager to be critiqued so early in the semester so that I could hear feedback from my peers and hopefully be able to figure out what type of images I wanted to make and the materials I was going to use.  As I said in a former post, I wanted to continue with silks but I was really struggling with making the imagery on the silks meaningful and was hoping my peers could provide some helpful advice in regards to that issue specifically.

For my critique I printed a 6ft. by 10ft. image on silk hung on dowel rod with free range to move and be observed.  The image was of a living room interior- still what I would say, a flat, boring image.  Thankfully my peers agreed and came to the conclusion that I was trying to be “too nice” in my image making.  My frustrations about the underlying expectations for women to work in the home are extremely apparent when I speak about it, so I needed to start to make the same sentiment in my artwork.

Looking back at some artists like Martha Rosler and Sandra Ogel, who had done performance/video pieces discussing this topic in a similar vain, my wheels really began turning. I started to think about some major chores or duties that women are expected to do within a home and broke them down to folding laundry, ironing, dishes, and vacuuming.  Beginning with the laundry elements of folding and ironing I thought about making a work inspired by Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen. I have never done video work before so this is my first attempt, but so far, I am very excited about the possibilities it holds.  I don’t want to get away from the silks completely, because I really enjoy the metaphor created between the transparency of the silk as a material and the transparency of invisibility of women’s work.  I am working to figure out how to combine the silk printing with the video, possibly with projection or installed hangings with video projections coinciding with the fabric pieces.

My next critique is on the 22nd- just about a week away.  I am looking forward to having a video completed as well as silk prints to have a nearly full installation. ‘Til soon!

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Final Thoughts on a final critique

As my final critique rolled around, I was excited, a little anxious, but excited.  I felt like I had completed a decent amount of work, varying with different materials and printing substrates as well as installation works.  All of which were things I had either not done before or had little experience with.  I felt prepared.  Why then when the time came to present my work was I so bloody nervous??  One may never know.  Either way, the feedback and critique were both helpful.

As I photographed couples and their homes, my work began to take on the idea/construct of a sort of sociological survey of people living in their domestic spaces today.  Which was indeed what I was investigating, however, it wasn’t making my viewpoint come to light or bringing forth the message I would have hoped.  The images documented these lived in spaces and the people inhabiting them but really what were they saying?  Truthfully, not too much.  They were documents.  There were some interesting things happening I think with sewing into the details of images, printing and collaging on cotton, as well as printing on silk and yet still they were not quite saying what I wanted them to say.

I watch many women around me deal with the daily frustrations of being responsible for the domestic duties within their home, and as a woman myself I find it daunting and aggravating.  I see the women I know exhausted, stressed; not feeling as though they have enough time in the day to go to work, get what they need for dinner, tend to their own wants- maybe workout or do some yoga- and also get dinner prepped and cooked by a reasonable time.  Not to mention clean and vacuum on the weekends, while they also work their second job.  All the while, their partner spends his time perhaps relaxing in his chair watching tv while dinner is prepared or maybe outside doing some work in the yard or garage until it’s time to come in and eat and then relax before bed.

Many women I know enjoy cooking, enjoy baking, and heck some even enjoy cleaning, however, it is when these things suddenly go from voluntary activities to required underlying expectations that a line is crossed and they no longer become enjoyable. As a woman I find it incredibly exhausting to think that this is what my life may become but truthfully I hope to find a partner that will be willing to share these duties so that I will not have to feel as much of the burden and frustration that many other women I know face.

As I begin this semester and continue exploring these ideas I hope to bring to light this notion of frustration, exhaustion, and daunting task work that women undergo as shared household members.  I am hoping to continue to work with printing on different fabrics and finding a way to manipulate them to show my point of view and opinions on the subject matter more clearly.

 

Below are images from my final critique.  A culmination of a semester’s investigation.

The cost of being a woman

As a photographer I am interested in the domestic space and the roles that both men and women play within that space, specifically one that is shared. There is a variety of statistical analysis and studies that have been reported by sociologists as well as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that state, even in 2015, although strides have been made, women are still doing more housework than men. Arlie Russell Hochschild describes housework and caring for children as a kind of “second shift” that a woman must work after being at a regular full time job all day. I am largely interested in creating photographic work revolving around this underlying expectation created for women while also incorporating craftwork aesthetically within the photographs. My work currently is a documentation and exploration of the domestic space itself as a means to research current men and women in their domestic spaces leading eventually to a more concise and specific narrative regarding what many would deem as “women’s work.”