This interdisciplinary fine arts course results in the development of a body of work around contemporary art topics. Research, concept development and studio practice will combine to broaden your skills and ideas. Stimulating assignments together with experimentation promote analysis and understanding of contemporary art ideas, world cultures and historical periods, and other areas of visual information. Studio production and the communication of concepts visually, verbally and in written form will be combined in this thought-provoking course
Monday, December 12, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
This image has come out of my (possibly morbid) fascination with Victorian post mortem photography.
In my thesis paper I note an avid collector of medical and post-mortem photography who described his "fascination for 19th-century documentary photography, a large portion of which depicts dead children, infants and murder victims of all ages. He views them not as macabre images, but as indisputable reminders of how Americans grieve throughout history… in Victorian times, families commissioned photographs of their dead children lying in bed or in coffins in a home’s front parlor – often posed with a living sibling -- as keepsakes, and to send to far-flung relatives to announce a child’s death.” I was entranced by the photographs that I came across as I researched this obscure practice for my body of work entitled Memento Mori. The images were haunting, of course, but they were also strangely beautiful. I was fascinated most with the unsettling confusion that I feel when I looked at the photographs of living children posing next to their deceased siblings, who were often photographed with their eyes open. It is almost always impossible to tell which of the two are dead.
The thing that disturbed me the most was not the images themselves. I have seen so much of it that I have developed quite a strong stomach when it comes to the physical tangibility of death. No, what frightened me was the amount of time I would spend sifting through the images and reading the stories of the people depicted. I hesitate to call it obsession for fear of being seen as a highly disturbed individual. But I cannot deny the fact that death has always been so significant throughout my life. The desire to understand it, to find the intellectual aperture into the unknown, has indeed obsessed me.
This was my third attempt at creating a collage of these images and I found it difficult to create an image that I was satisfied with, aesthetically speaking. I do, however, intend to explore this further in the future.
This image is the result of my thoughts about memory.
The image is adapted from a photo taken when I was a very young child. My parents took my brother and I out one summer afternoon to feed the geese that lived on Alum Creek (one of our favorite pastimes before it became illegal). In the photo my mother is holding my little brother in her lap as I play in the sand on the banks. I choose to use that photograph as my inspiration for this piece for a few reasons. When I found this photograph I was struck by the fact that of the three figures in the image, none of our faces are entirely visible. We are all staring out at the water away from the viewer. A lot of the work that I have done over the past 2 years is in some way connected to the death of my mother.
The fact that I choose this image in particular was a decision made in recognition of the loss that occurs in memory over time. My mother was murdered only two short years ago by the man that she began dating just a few years after this photo was taken. I've always been so saddened by the fact that as soon as that man stormed into our lives I began to develop blind spots in my memory. To this day I still have very long memory blocks in the early years of my life and I'm almost positive that this is because of all the abuse that we suffered through because of him. The faceless portrait that I have created in this piece alludes to two specific ways in which my memory has deteriorated.
The first is the fact that I cannot actually remember this day. I was told the story and have filled in the gap with the memory of others, but without this image, it would have been lost to me completely. The second deterioration that I intend to address with this piece is a direct result of the loss of my mother. It has been two years since my mother died, and I have very slowly lost so much of her. I cannot remember her face without looking at a photograph of her. I can only remember her voice on the rare occasions that it comes out of my own mouth.
The thing is though, that there are some things that I can remember so crisply that I doubt I will ever lose them. I don't have my mother's laugh. Mine is usually quiet and conservative, with a smile small and thin because of an irrational self-consciousness about my teeth. But I remember what hers sounded like perfectly with out even having to catch it within my own. Bright, high pitched and so unrestrained. But not obnoxious. It was a laugh that made you smile even if all you wanted to do was stay angry. I can't remember the days between her death and her funeral. But I can remember with perfect clarity the sight and the smell of her blood and that of her boyfriend's brains. I remember how it caked the floor of that disgusting off-white living room that I hated for so many years, adorned with furniture the color of vomit covered denim. Everyday I wish that I could forget what I know, and remember what I lost. I wish I could remember those precious few peaceful years before the apocalypse that our lives became. I would gladly give up the last eighteen years if I could have back the first insignificant five.
In creating this piece I have tried to capture the nature of memory by alluding to the blind spots and fading the ones that are seen. Memory is a whisper of the past, as is this work of very personal exploration.
This is my personal project that I have slowly been working on over the course of the past month. I really enjoyed doing the image transfers and lately have also been kind of obsessive about looking through family photos. All these photos were taken at family gatherings at my grandparents farm as I have grown up. I have arranged them so that they are as the property is mapped out. I wanted this piece to be a collection of memories from this dear place as it is no longer inhabited as it once was. The transfers work well for this piece because they are not perfectly clear and do not reveal all the details, just like how our memory is.