"see for yourself"
The viewer is invited to understand the confusion with which I try to manipulate and interpret my own appearance. Each pair of glasses is a different prescription, alluding to the many perspectives with which people perceive an individual's appearance.
"what do I look like, how do I know?"
My self-image is uncertain, as I'm no longer certain in my ability to judge and value my own appearance, so it is clarified through the perspective of others. However, no one judgement is accurate, and each distorts reality in its own manner.
I affixed the drawing to a canvas so I could attach the eyehooks to the frame. Then I used thread to tie glasses together and create an overlay for the canvas. It took a bit to figure this part out, and I experimented with wire but it was too difficult to work with. I chose to leave half of the piece uncovered with the intention to provide the viewer with an opportunity to see the raw drawing, and I thought this would be more interesting than covering the entire canvas.
So I changed the subject of my painting. While I was in Europe I had a long time to thing about the idea, and it didn't feel as connected to my first piece as I wanted it to be. The subject of the painting is inspired by the first piece, following the motif of distortion through glass. The blue is leftover from when I toned the canvas for the first idea I had, and because acrylic is opaque I didn't feel the need to paint over it.
For my first project about self-image and perception, I finished the pen and ink drawing which will be displayed under the layer of glasses. I chose this style because I think the lines, especially straight lines, will make the distortion of the glasses more emphatic and visible. Each mini-portrait is based off of a picture I took of myself doing a step of my makeup because it is one of the daily rituals I experience where I am directly faced with my image, where I must confront myself in order to be able to alter myself. I guess so was this process of drawing myself four times. On my painting I've bought the canvas and toned it an almost cyan blue. The image I've selected to paint is a plate of typical Costa Rican food. I found it compelling because of its simplicity and the idea that many people's first impression of a culture is their cuisine. I'm on vacation in Europe now though, so everything will have to be put on pause until I return.
I know what media I want to use- pen and ink and oil paint. I've gone to Michael's and stocked up on a palette of oil paints roughly based off of Mrs. Mosley's introduction from class. Unfortunately, no store in a 20 mile radius has Gamsol, so I bought a bottle of Liquin. After some research, I found that it's pretty toxic, but! apparently it allows brushstrokes to pretty much disappear, which I'm always a fan of. Love smoothness and well-blended paint. Pen and ink has always been my favorite medium, so now's a good chance to do something a bit more ambitious maybe. One of my head pieces was based on identity and how I perceive myself, and I want to expand on that idea. I want to do a self-portrait, and create an overlay with eyeglasses. I don't know why, but I have a bin of eyeglasses in my house. The overlay would warp the underlying self-portrait and communicate a message about an issue I deal with- a distorted self-image.
I toned my canvas a red-orange because of the blue of the duck and I really like how it's visible where the grisaille is more translucent and where I've left the orange around the edges. I didn't like the brunaille because of how hard it was to work with. It was very thin and rough, so I don't know how much more helpful it was than the sketch. I like the grisaille a lot more because of how much more precise I can be in details and in values. Overall, I really like how smooth oil paint can be because it's blendable for so long compared to acrylic, and I took home my supplies to try and finish the grisaille so at least I'd have a black and white painting.
After he came out of the kiln, I began painting him. First, I spray-painted it gold (spray-paint fumes :(), and then I began adding the brown translucent coats to tone the gold and make it look like metal. Then, I used the rub and buff to add little highlights throughout the bust. The mushrooms didn't end up working out because of time constraints but I liked that I was able to keep the "flowing out" feeling by having a vine lead out of the main cavity.
The Try-Me Gallery is a portion of the private collection of the Royalls’ hosted in a controlled, gallery environment. The Royalls are avid collectors of visual arts, possessing numerous pieces by Kehinde Wiley, Amy Sherrill, and the Philadelphia Wireman. Plasma Stone II by Mariko Mori is displayed at the front of the building, directly in front of the window. The piece attempts to envision what the universe looked like before the Big Bang. Layers of clear acrylic are covered in dichroic film, creating an almost holographic effect on the surface of each sculpture. The importance of the surface of the piece made the sculpture difficult to install, as damage to the surface would alter its appearance greatly. The piece refracts light and its transparency makes it seem light. In addition, the piece is elevated from the ground by a thin platform. The piece weighs an enormous amount, but its display and interaction with light gives it an apparent lift. I find it interesting how Mori drew inspiration from this piece from her interpretation of a scientific phenomenon. It’s a unique interaction between astrophysics and the imagination of an artist. The sculpture at a glance doesn’t look complex, but the process of both creating it and installing it were difficult and tedious.
Another piece I enjoyed was Afterimage by Vincent Lamouroux. Inspired by derelict movie theaters, the light and aluminum sculpture is suspended from the ceiling. The geometric form and continuity appealed to me. I loved the way “frames” were interwoven with each other to create movement throughout the piece. It was displayed like a chandelier and could retract into the ceiling for more open space. It’s minimalistic, but it occupies the space completely and changes as the viewer’s perspective changes. Both Plasma Stone II and Afterimage have a transparency or hollowness to them that appeals to me. You’re able to see through both of them, and because of this, there’s a sense of lightness that comes with them. The environment becomes part of the piece and the display affects how the viewer perceives it. Maybe this can become an element in a Head and Heart piece?
When I learned Try-Me was a private collection, I was curious as to what about each piece appealed to the Royalls so much that they bought and display it. It was interesting to see threads of commonality running through pieces as well as the extremely diverse body of work they’ve curated for themselves. Some of the artists represented, such as Kehinde Wiley, the Royalls discovered before he became famous for Obama’s portrait. As a result, the early works of his they bought for a few thousand dollars are worth much, much more now. They had no way of knowing he’d become famous, so it really was just the art that they saw value in. The process of selection and displaying these pieces interested me, so I found this video on what it means to be a curator.
John Freyer engages audiences in his displays of social practice art in exploring how the circulation of objects relations to the social ties between individuals and groups. His work has traveled internationally and involved different populations and communities. His work, such as Free Hot Coffee, usually advocates or brings awareness to a topic, such as recovery from substance abuse disorders. As a conceptual artist, he doesn’t have a conventional body of work. Rather, it is based on a set of ideas which he expresses through organized performances. His works are named what they are, to make as clear as possible to the public what they involve. For example, All My Life for Sale entailed selling all of his possessions on eBay and traveling around the world to meet their new owners. His series Free ____ is a suite of projects in which he offered coffee, water, and hot supper to an audience to facilitate their involvement. His community targets young people in recover from substance abuse disorders because he is able to relate to them, having been involved in recovery programs such as Rams in Recovery at VCU.
I found it interesting how Freyer’s work is both rooted in his own experiences and what he believes to be the needs of the community. Free Ice Water arose because when he was in recovery, he learned to listen to the stories of others and share his own. Sensing that people seemed to lack opportunities to genuinely engage with other people for long periods of time, Free Ice Water allowed for two strangers to have a long conversation in an open environment. At recovery programs, Freyer noticed the lack of good coffee and thought he could do better. From there, he developed Recovery Roast and Free Hot Coffee. In Free Hot Coffee, people are able to participate in the creation of the blend as well as the serving of the coffee. The process of pour-over coffee is slow and deliberate, allowing for time for the recovering and their allies to share their stories with the community. The connection to my art isn’t as direct, but I admire what he does. He has benefitted from the recovery community and through his projects, he gives back to them. The idea of having an audience contribute to the work appeals to me, but I’m not sure how to incorporate it. Social practice art is art that serves a purpose and he very effectively uses it to building a network of support and awareness. Being able to make myself a cup of coffee at the end really tied the entire experience together. I found this TedX talk by Ed Woodman on his work in social practice art.
I've finished carving the bust entirely and it's now candling in the kiln for the rest of the week. Overall I'm satisfied by how it looks except for the facts themselves. When i sponged the surface to smooth out carving marks, the facets became mores rounded. I went back and accentuated a few of the more important facets but overall it's a little softer than it started. It wasn't difficult to remove from the armature and I did it in two parts- from the hole in the head and then the hollow base. Afterwards, I carved out the inside more to make it smoother as well as thinner. There was no problem with collapsing or uneven distribution of weight. Once it comes out of the kiln I'll probably sand it a little and then start painting it to look like a metal bust. Once that gets fairly far along, I'll begin the mushroom growing since that has a definite time restraint.