More WIP …

I came to graduate school with a project proposal stating I wanted to incorporate craft and photography. I think I’ve finally found the craft … not quite sure where the photo is though.

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Anyone want to play scrabble?

After some careful consideration of how I would introduce language into these large scale patch replications that I am creating I decided it might be a good idea to start with the language that is already present.  Each patch has a distinct fire department name on it or reference to a place or position.  For example, “Fall River Fire Department, Boston Fire Department, National Interagency Fire Center Boise, Idaho, State of New York Hazardous Materials Technician,” etc.  Rather than representing and creating my narrative about my father and I from scratch I have decided to scramble the letters that are already present on the patch in efforts to recreate words or phrases that will be referential to myself and my Dad: creating a new narrative from an already existing one; a type of scrabble of sorts. Right now I am at the point of creating words and ideas at random to see what I can come up with and eventually it will become relevant content.

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Over and Out … but not quite yet

Finally the last week of the semester has come!  And Lord knows I can’t wait for Friday to get here, but not for the reasons one might initially think.  Was the semester a little hectic and crazy?  Well… I had two internships, my GA with the photo department, I TA’ed a night class twice a week, played rugby until the end of October, and also worked at  brewery tap room when I found the off chance, so you tell me!  Jokes, jokes … each of those opportunities has taught me an immense amount about myself as a person and have provided great learning opportunities.  I loved every second of it for the most part and although yes I am looking forward to a break from it all, the biggest reason I am looking forward to the semester’s end is so I can REALLY dedicate myself to my work for thesis.

As usual, I am a bit behind the 8 ball, but maybe the best part about that is being self-aware and knowing that now I need to just put my head down and work.  Naturally I have always been a procrastinator and unfortunately Grad school has been no exception to that.  I found myself in a similar place last Spring semester – questioning whether I still even knew how to make art or not, just trying to make whatever I could to get myself propelled forward into something that felt right.  With an entire semester come and gone, I finally feel like I am on track to get somewhere.  Better late than never is what they say right?  This time though time is ticking and my thesis show is slowly but surely on its way.

With that in mind I have a productive and exciting “break” planned.  On Monday of next week I will begin my 72 hour project.  In attempts to see what it feels like to work for 72 hours in one week, replicating my dad’s work schedule, I will be in my studio crocheting for 72 hours.  I’ve purchased material and am excited to get it started.  It will be daunting, trying, most likely even boring at times, but something interesting will come out of it I’m sure.  I also went and spoke to the Battalion Chief of the Columbus Fire Department today about receiving donated fire hose from the Columbus Fire Department.  During my progress review a few weeks back there was mention about how content of a work can be found within the material and choosing which material to use within my work has definitely been something I have been mulling over for some time.  What is something that is referential to fire fighting and could be used within my work?  My first initial thought was turn out gear- but staring at my dad’s jacket I can’t seem to take much away from it and altering it in any form would feel disrespectful and detract from the pride I see in that coat.  The second material I’ve thought of is the aforementioned fire hose.  I put out a call to my family and friends in the fire industry about acquiring donated hose but my dad was quick to recognize that shipping fire hose to Columbus from Eastern PA and New Jersey would be quite the feet.  After speaking to the Battalion Chief today it is looking like I may be able to get the material I need.  Working with woven hose will be interesting and I am excited to see what can be done with it.  It will be heavy, no doubt, and put up a fight in my attempts to crochet, weave, or manipulate it, but I am up for the challenge.

After weeks of thinking about crocheting for 72 hours and also figuring out how to get fire hose donated, I have taken the jump and am going to begin.  (In the interim I have been spending time reading and researching – making sure not to neglect the behind the scenes of the making.)  I’m not sure what holds me back from getting fully started, maybe fear, uncertainty, or anxiety, but all I do know is that I no longer have time to let any of those things side track me.  Time is ticking and I need to get to work so here goes.  What have I got to lose?

 

 

Ready for Thesis…

Ready for Thesis.

Ready for Thesis?

Both the same set of words, yet one obviously a statement and the latter a question.  Currently I am at the second and working towards the bold, strong, statement that is the first.

My show, Blue: A love affair is finally up and nearly ready to go.  The photographs are all pretty much set where they are with a few tweaks to be presented here and there.  I painted an entire wall blue, which wasn’t as daunting as one might think and it came out surprisingly a beautiful, solid, fresh navy blue.

The show will be up all this week, until Saturday with a closing reception happening at 6:30pm on Friday in Byers gallery.  If you’re around, come check it out and say hello.


 

Now it’s time to start really working into my thesis.  I’ve been planning to use appropriated imagery and reprinting them through alternative photo processes like salt printing or Van Dyke printing to create a new composition, so the work I recently completed for Blue, technically was very helpful in getting me ready to work in those processes.   Content wise I am still struggling as far as where exactly I will go.  I know I’d like to discuss my family and fabricated memories built through photographs, but just how I will do that is still up in the air.

I grew up in a great home in a wonderful region of the Pocono Mountains of North East Pennsylvania.  I spent a lot of time outdoors with my sister and brother, played sports, had a ton of friends, and great parents that supported me in academics, arts, and after school sports.  There are moments in my childhood, however, that things were not so picture perfect.  Moments that are lost and unrepresented in the photographs that fill the family albums in my parents home.  I wonder what role photography can play in exploring these lost memories and how they have effected me emotionally.  My relationship with my Dad has always been a rocky one.  Two strong Type A personalities with a ton of things to say just generally don’t get along super well and as I got older I got less and less patient with my father and more eager to argue back with him when the opportunity arose.  (Very typical teenager of me you’d say, but the arguing definitely stemmed from things that are rooted much deeper).  Despite this, my Dad is an amazing man.  A hard worker, who has sacrificed immensely for my family and in ways that I will never be able to repay him for, but in his efforts to provide he also became absent.  I’ve always been proud to say my dad is a fire fighter- a hero to me and my siblings and even to strangers, but the long shifts and far commute didn’t always make a ton of time for being at home with family.

As an artist and in general, I have never really taken the time to think about all of these dynamics that have been created within my family and the way they have effected me.  And as stated previously, I have never been one to make highly emotional or personal work, but grad school is all about change and challenging yourself right?  So here are some of the questions I am asking myself and ideas I am trying to work through as I navigate through my own personal narrative in efforts to create new work.


 

What does it mean for someone to be physically present in life but also absent emotionally?

How can I express my own perspective on my childhood without being insensitive to my family?

My dad being a fire fighter has always been something I am extremely proud of, but it also kept him away from getting to know me and my siblings better, how has that changed or challenged me growing up? How can that be brought forward in a visual and physical object?

How does having such a similar personality to my Dad effect me?  What does it mean to me to be so much like him?

What do I want to portray or say about my childhood?

What memories do I want to explore? How can I explore them without be exploitative?

 

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A recap of Spring 2017- better late than never

Phew… well it has been a while since I’ve posted.  Each time I have stopped into the studio I have reminded myself to get on here and post my end of semester work with an update and yet somehow it always manages to get tossed aside.  So, alas! All those that have been anxiously waiting, (no one), here it is!

 

 

I finished the semester with 4 finished pieces.  There are some questions remaining, things that could be further pushed and/or explored but overall I am happy with the result and was confident in what I had produced.  Just a month or so before the end of the semester I was having a total mental breakdown thinking I would have nothing to produce, so although 4 pieces may not seem like much- they felt like quite an accomplishment to me.   Below are images of the works before they were installed in the Beeler Lobby for the 2017 CHROMA exhibit.  If you live locally in Columbus I encourage you to stop by and check them out.  I won’t say much as I could really write forever about the struggles that I had throughout this semester and the resulting works, but instead I will leave you with my artist statement a brief description of the process and materials along with photos of the works allowing them all to work together and speak for each other.

Materials/Process:

A series of 4 crocheted photographs printed on silk and cotton fabrics, cut up and created into a yarn like structure, then finger crocheted.

Statement:

Over the past year I have watched my twin sister transition from college graduate to full time teacher, fiancé, and mom to two pets. She shares a home with her partner and they plan to be married in October of this coming year. Within this home structure she fulfills a very typical housewife role completing all the traditional domestic chores while her future husband tends to the “outside work.” I have observed her frustrations and stresses as she struggles to fulfill the role of “housewife” on top of her daily regime and very much have been frustrated by these expectations that have been set for her.

Using a camera to document this personal history as well as a collective of couples around the Midwest these photographs depict domestic interiors cut up, crocheted, and restructured creating a new image entirely. The crocheting process serves as a means to bring power to women’s craftwork while reconstructing and reconfiguring the domestic space offering redefinition of roles, ideas, and expectations within that setting.

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Making soup with Malcolm

On Thursday I had a studio visit with Malcolm Cochran. I had never met Malcolm before but we had a wonderful conversation and I appreciated his interest in getting to know me beyond my artwork. He wanted to know where I grew up, asked me about my family – how did I decide to make art my life. And then we got into the nitty gritty of it all. I’m a talker- and usually during studio visits I feel the time crunch and feel like I have to get things out as quickly as possible- often overwhelming myself and probably the visitor.  Malcolm’s visit however felt relaxed, calm, and as if time was infinite. Just another element I really appreciated during our meeting.

As we spoke about my work (both past undergraduate pieces and current works) I began to feel less and less sure of my graduate work. Not in a sense that it’s poor work but rather what it is I have been trying to understand within the work. Malcolm emphasized the importance of exploring ideas and questions and finding answers within the work rather than starting with an answer and then trying to make work about it- which is the place I seem to have found myself in.

Drawn to my photographs from last semester he encouraged me to use them as sketches and re-look at them for more understanding and to try to find perhaps a commonality or what makes them interesting.

As for my most current video work he made a point to remind me that sometimes “confidence can be blinding.”  A point that redirected us to his advice on exploration and question asking. There is a pressure within graduate school to make sure you know what your work is about- which myself and my classmates can attest to. Malcolm and I discussed this, and obviously it’s important to know what you’re making and why-but as he reminded me, explore IDEAS, see what kind of QUESTIONS you’re asking yourself and within that you will figure out what your work is about.

I seem to have set an agenda for myself and have worked backwards. “I am making work about Womens issues and oppression within domesticity.” But am I really? I would like to- but what if the work is exploring something else in a different way-not in the way I intended?

One of Malcolm’s final pieces of advice was to think of art making as a way of making soup. Say you make a really good tomato bisque, with fresh tomatoes, basil, chunks of mozzarella cheese, some salt and pepper. It’s delicious but the next time you make it you use that original recipe as a jumping off point to alter it and make it even better- experiment with some more flavors. The fresh tomatoes were a great addition so you decide to put more fresh ingredients in rather than artificial spices. This brands a new type of tomato bisque but nonetheless had the same initial concept behind it.

What he was saying was that each artwork made should be inspiration for the next. Should serve as a jumping off point- take the best parts of the previous work and make a new recipe with them.
I appreciated this analogy in many ways. Since the visit I have felt a bit overwhelmed and lost within my work and have no idea where I’m going. Nevertheless, I am going to go back to my photographs from last semester and really look at them, I’m going to ask myself questions about what I am thinking about or trying to explore, I am going to examine my video works and do the same hoping that after all that I may have some pretty good ingredients to make a strong and hearty soup.