This is the start of my blog! I must say I am not necessarily the best at blogs but I strive to do better! This first week is all new for me in fact.This is a new place with a new school, new people, and new ideas to ponder. Even the simple task of creating a new piece is taunting. There are so many ideas that I have built over the summer I don’t know really where to begin! My initial semester project proposal was to simply create more tar paintings with other materials to enhance the symbolism and meaning of the work. Yet there so many options what I can use, I quickly getting overwhelmed. I what to look more into gold leaf and materials I haven’t tried yet like fabrics , steel wool, and charcoal. Hopefully once I get a mentor, together we can sort some direction in my work. I’ve started emailing possible mentors so they should get back to me soon. To be honest I am not entirely sure how my semester end project will look like. I scared that I will deviate from my original ideas but I am also excited for new possibilities! Here’s to starting something new.
85 paintings, 85 paintings is what it took to see that my project was completed. I never thought I could do that much in such a small amount of time! It took me 3 months to finish the first 10 original paintings for The Oreo Zone. As I worked on taking my piece down from the gallery, I was once again hit with the amount of work that went into each and every painting. Some where focused in playing with brushstrokes and line while others where more color and light based.
Most of the pieces share the same levels of saturation, yet values, shadows and highlights don’t necessarily match. As in The Croucher, the green figure has a mix of bright pink and orange highlights. Yet that lighting is not reflected anywhere in the environment. This selection of colors to reflect the figure is the primary focus and that the world or realm that these Oreos’ live in is vastly different yet familiar.
In Disney’s Cinderella, Cinderella is mistreated by her step family for pretty petty reasons. We as an audience empathize with her as the situation seems to get worse and worse till she is finally rewarded by her fairy godmother with an enchanted night at the ball. The reason I mention this example is the notion of creating empathy within artwork and narrative. We feel for Cinderella when her dress is torn to shreds or when she is locked in the attic by her step mother. The way the movie those is framing Cinderella as a kind, beautiful , and patient woman who dreams of something more. We as an audience want to see her acheve her dreams.
I think of my figures in similar situation as Cinderella, not by stuck by family but of racial codes and rules they do not follow. These hypersexualized minstrel figures in compositions to that of historical paintings and religious icons. They are stuck in somewhat familiar, yet isolated place to be judged by the outside audience, the views. For my these I wanted the audience to not feel attacked, aggressive or guilty of my minstrel figures. but to have the knowledge that they and their situation exists.
When I had my Pre-thesis review on Friday, me and my mentors came to a solid conclusion, The paintings by themselves where a strong enough Thesis project. During the meeting I felt fine, totally agreeing that the animation and the gems further complicated not only my theme but my time management as well. I was having problems making the gems by mold making and the most recent animation was on hold because of hard drive issues. So when my mentors suggested dropping the gems and animation and solely focus on the paintings, there was a burden that lifted off my shoulders. I basically dropped two out of three projects!
But that feeling only lasted a few moments as I slowly realized what this meant for my project. It meant I was letting go, it meant putting my ideas that rage in my head on hold. It felt like I was abandoning my new work. I dumped it for something easier and something I am used to, painting. I am still coming into grips about not going through with those projects. While I enjoy painting the most I guess I wanted to prove to myself and others that I can do more than just paint. I could explore my work in different mediums and still get the feeling of the Oreo across just like the paintings. Yet, I must look at my work more positively. People respond in such unique ways to the paintings that focusing solely on the paintings would be enough. There’s power in them and from now till the week of install I’m going to do my best to complete 100 of them! Realistically it will still only be about 70 or 80 but I fine with that. Having the ultimate goal of 100 is like getting a gold medal , 70 and 80 are silver and bronze but it still means I won a prize and put the work in. On the plus side the work that I left behind is not lost! I have a residency coming up in June in which I can work on those ideas then, or simply work on at a later time when I get the hang of the materials.
I’m trying not to be so terribly hard on myself even with this important task ahead of me. In the end I will have a sizable piece of work that will be my Thesis.
Now I must apologize. I did not mean to get so visibly upset during the crit. I’m a very emotional person, I’ve to terms with that a while ago. As I took a step back and thought through what I had gotten so upset with the comments my peers where giving me. One of the many problems arise is that i did not explain the project thoroughly to them for them to understand the meaning and decisions that I had made. I making this post to hopefully rectify that.
My thesis project The Oreo Zone is a combination of works that look into my research of finding the definition of the term “Oreo”. in this project I take on 3 major parts, paintings, sculpture, and animation. The reason for this multitude of media is for me to explore various ideas and and methods to get to the core of what I understand as the “Oreo”.
In the paintings, I do this by juxtaposing minstrel inspired figures(Blackness) within Medieval/Byzantine religious(Whiteness) inspired backgrounds. The goal for the this work is the repetition of the action of painting and the build up of figures to make an abstract” window of their world”. These figures are the “Oreo’s”. They are stuck in this realm of emptiness and isolation. They lay about waiting to be judged or accepted, but with one to to judge or accept them. the structure of the paintings is that of three distorted archways. The structure is not perfect because the individuals in the paintings are not perfect, unlike in religious/Catholic depictions of saints and other holy persons. The Oreo’s are in weird in between of being praised,/honored and being rejected and scorned.
Part 2 and 3 work together in their separate work. A pile of heavily decorated white gems lie on the floor while a series of three different animations play on its surface. the pile of gems/animations will be away for the paintings as to give them breathing room. Gems callback to heavy ornamentation within the Catholic church and that of blinged out merchandise you would find in Black geared hair and clothing stores. The gems are my way to explore the “Oreo” without the figure that I use in my work. These gems are exude the utmost luxury and preciousness with unworthiness and gaudiness due to their ink stained surface and placement on the floor.(rather than in glass cases or on a pedestal)
And finally the animations. These where produced in order to see my figures actually seem alive in some way rather than in the static forms of both the paintings and sculptures. Since the minstrel is heavily based in cartoons and the moving image, I decided it be necessary to show this. The animations have wobbly lines and limited movement of the figures. This shows an unstable being, being projected on objects that have fragmented planes and points. creating again a distorted view of an empty place that these object and figure inhabit.
From what I said in the crit is that I wanted to create a cathedral like space, that is a lie. What I mean to say is that I wanted to create a small chapel like space, like the one you find in the back of churches. It a bit bigger than a confessional booth only with candles and a small stain glass window with one singular kneeler. I have this chapel is my home church I would often find self in it when I would wait for my family to leave. It was a space of self improvement and self reflection, a time to be alone with God with your prayers. Then why not follow the direct structure of this room? I felt that the theme and work I doing could not fit in such a small area, that it needed to be expanded to a slightly bigger area.
Especially after yesterdays crit it made me wonder if my work is even for a “White” audience. The befuddlement of mostly White peers had me questioning this for a long time to which I asked myself the question who is my audience? Is it other Oreo’s or is it simply a way that I show my findings like that of a visual research paper? I need to think about this more as I continue.
So for the past month or so, I’ve have been writing little sentences about my blog about every fours days or so. I feel that this writing is a part of my research process even if it only takes a few minutes.. Sometimes I take writings I have done for class and narrow them down to a few short sentences. Most of the time though I’m force myself to write when I’m at a troubling thought process and trying to get something down on paper helps a bit. Here I’ll share some of the writings I thought were the most interesting.
“Your resilience is your humanity”* but what happens when your humanity is not recognized… what then?
-I draw/ paint the Oreo. Is “she” my friend? Do I know them? I barely know her. I know that she is female, she is sad and lonely and stuck. She is in a place she did not decide to be in. She spends her days there lost in awkwardness and social convention.
-Is my work a product of white guilt? I don’t think so but I seem to give white people a reason to worry.
– I want closure….I never gotten closure on being the “oreo”. … It feels impossible to start my persona anew again. I’ll just run with this one until I can feel comfortable with it.
I know I am horrible at making blog posts, but I will try to correct that in the coming months. For a little recap, over the summer , I focused on one theme tension and relationships. Since I base my compositions on medieval historical paintings I found that my figures where coming off as stiff and almost lifeless. My figures are full of curves and are depicted as emotionally expressive. I will do a separate post on my research over the summer ( probably later this week). So to move in a different direction I started making mini paintings that focus on my figures in an isolated space.
This realm( dimension?) is very empty. Its not supposed a dystopia or a destroyed earth but an empty world. Since I still don’t the know the story of this place, or figures, creating many paintings and depiction of these characters and environment will help me develop a story. I like this process its like researching the a tomb by collecting small bits and pieces.
This semester I feel proud in what I have accomplished. I am sorry I ‘ve been off the radar for so long. But that means I ‘ve been hard at work in the studio trying to get everything done! Before this project I rarely delved into sculpture or woodworking. Yet now I fee a bit more comfortable with it and I am willing to go further and and experiment with more materials.
As I started continuing working with my proposed gem sculptures I realized that my goal of making them out of wood would be very time consuming and mentally draining. Thus i started looking for materials that could stand the weight and thickness of tar. Using cardboard that I made from test models and heavy weight paper ( that I printed off the gem layouts on a huge printer) I constructed gems that were bigger and almost 5x larger than what I had imagined them be. This fluctuation in sizes of the gems made them see more realistic and created a balance between large ad small gems. For the gems in cardboard I used the laser cutter to cut out paper cut patterns that I had designed. For the most they came out alright , the one done much later are the best one though!
The main vision of the this project was to test my abilities in trying new ways to express Oreoness and conflict between Blackness and Whiteness . The gems act as Black bodies feathered with Gold leaf and swarovski crystals to enhance their so called “Whiteness” The golf leaf and bejeweling aspects I borrowed from Euro-religious decorating and luxury items such as chalices, altar pieces and, holy garments. Yet even with all this opulent “whiteness” ,underneath is still sticky greasy dirty tar creating a piece that is neither “White” nor “Black”…. but a limbo.