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.”

Thanks to Alice Frenz

In my last post I mentioned the idea of quilting images together as a means of collage- so without hesitation the process has begun. Luckily CCAD is blessed to have a textile digital fabric printer and even more blessed to have a faculty member, Alice Frenz, who spends 10+ hours with this machine printing things for students. I met with Alice on Wednesday about possibilities and scheduled to make some tests for today. She’s wonderful to work with and today was more than accommodating. We actually made my first full print!

There are a variety of textile materials to print on and I am so excited for the opportunity to print on both cotton and silk fabrics. The silk will allow me to layer transparent images on top of the opaque cottons- allowing for a more traditional collage element. Monday I will print my second base image and then hopefully have the silks by mid week!

 

Let the cutting and sewing begin!

 

An investigation of Domestic Space

This Thursday I have my second critique of the semester, my last before final critique in December.  I am excited to show half of my cohort the new images I created and share with them the changes that have occurred in my work since my last critique.  It is much different from the creation of the aprons, however, it is important to know that the new work stems from wanting to explore and investigate the same concept.

Some of the critique I initially received involved questioning what was happening in current homes  today- not just focusing on the 50s and 60s.  How are men and women living in their homes and sharing their spaces with their partners today?  I took this question along with my inspiration for installation and began thinking about the space of the home itself.  Before beginning to think about what kind of photographs I was going to make I wanted to figure out how I could actually create the physical space of a home and what a “home” actually is.  I began reading a book titled Domestic Space and a specific article that touches on the separation of spaces within a home based on gender or class role.   This article has inspired me to make an investigation and/or documentation of current homes to see how people are living within them and what they feel their roles are as well.

So far I have photographed two couples and their homes and also conducted a recorded interview with each couple asking a series of questions about what it’s like to share a space with someone, what they feel their roles are within that space, how their upbringing may have effected that, and a few other questions.  Initially, I planned to play the audio recordings with each couples group of photos but upon discussion in a recent studio visit Julie Abijanic I think the recordings will better serve as a means of documentation and research for myself.  I do plan to use a bit of ambient sound from inside my own home and am keen to see how that works with the photographs.  I have quite a variety of ways that I plan to show the photos and am looking forward to getting feedback.  Prepare yourselves group 2 (or are we group 1?), I’m expecting you to say something!

Home as sanctuary?

This article I am reading titled, Tranquil Havens? Critiquing the idea of home as the middle-class sanctuary, written by Moira Donald has really got me thinking about the divisions of a home, and certain places in the home specifically feeling equivalent to a “work place.”  At a point in the article she speaks specifically about the division of spaces within a home, based on gender as well as based on role within the home, i.e. servant versus homeowner.

She says, “when individuals crossed boundaries, their reading of the same space would have been very different.  The role of each person overlaid the physical divisions within the domestic space.  The feelings of the maid who rose early in the morning to blacklead the grates in the upstairs rooms would have been very different from those of the male house-holder first entering the room to the welcome of a blazing fire… the same space held different meanings for those whose lives were lived within it.”

Granted, this article is part of a larger book titled Domestic Space, Reading the 19th Century Interior, so one might say that the principles and focus of the article are a bit outdated.  I would say, yes perhaps, but also, no.  I’m finding this idea of separation of spaces and specific rooms within a home based on gender and work very interesting.  I’m investigating and thinking about how  this applies to today’s homes and domestic settings.  What spaces in a home are seen as feminine, and which spaces are seen as inherently male?  What objects within a home also create that same sort of gender binary or separation?  One that immediately comes to mind is a classic recliner chair.  What is more middle class american than Dad kicked back in his LAZ Boy watching football while mom does the dishes from a Sunday dinner?  I mean, I know that’s what was happening in my house as I grew up.  My Dad may not have been in a LAZ boy specifically, but he was definitely half asleep in his recliner 9 times out of 10.  Even now, just yesterday I FaceTimed my sister while she was visiting my parents and as she panned around the space she was in, my mom was drying dishes, and dad was hanging out in his chair watching football.  My sister lives with her fiancé and I see very much the same sort of happenings occurring there.  My grandfather had a beautiful leather recliner in his living room as well that no one else really sat in, because of course, that was his chair.  Funny how one object can be so universal in who occupies it no?  Wondering when it will be my turn to sit back, relax, and fall asleep in my recliner chair… will it ever be?

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