Okay! So, just as a warning, this post is going to be...about as verbose as my posts usually are, which is to say, I'm never going to shut up. For your viewing convenience, I shall put the stories behind each piece inside quote blocks, so you can skip them if you don't feel like reading my life story, which is essentially what this is. You've been warned!
So, at my school, in order to receive your BFA in Studio Art, you have to put on an exhibition in the university gallery. It's a lovely facility, and usually you exhibit with one or two other people. Last semester, due to some weird scheduling errors and the fact that a lot more people than usual were graduating...there were TEN of us. I don't know how we managed to make it fit, but we did.
This was my semester to exhibit; I started work in September, and the opening was on December 2. Believe me when I say that I was working literally up until the moment they made me leave it alone so people could come and view it. I've never had such a stressful semester; there was not a single day in three months when I didn't work at least 8 hours on this, and every weekend I spent 24-36 hours. My bad mental state was compounded by the fact that it all went wrong from the very beginning. My committee rejected my original idea, which I had been planning for three years (experimental fashion; see my Mourning Dove Dress), and therefore I had a week to come up with a new one. The final idea is good and interesting, and was cathartic and fun to do, but it was not what I wanted and so it doesn't really feel like my show. I hate to start the post on a negative note, but it's taken me almost two months to post pictures because I still feel really bitter about that. I wanted to give my school the best, most personal farewell I could, and...well. No use rambling anymore about it, and I AM proud of what came out of this. I am feeling sooooooo happy this semester now that it's all over!
So anyway, the concept was this. I decided to do art quilts (fiber fusion method--layering fabrics to create color and depth, then sewing through them) about various life memories that have made an impact on me one way or another. Originally I had eight ideas, which I narrowed down to five. Two were happy, one was bittersweet, and two were the worst memories I ever had. These were very difficult to work on, but I do feel better now that they're out. I wanted a slight twist, though: the fuzziest parts of the memories would be covered with translucent fabrics with text printed on them (text saying what actually happened), and the most important parts of the memories would be three-dimensional. I'm not sure what compelled me to do that, since I had only done one 3D piece before (my anglerfish chair) and it was an absolute bitch, but there you go.
So without further ado...the pictures!
There Were All These Ripe Apples
The first piece I did. The tree branch was tricky; my boyfriend helped me build a wire armature, which we attached to a piece of wire mesh stapled to a wooden frame. The flat piece was then stretched over the frame, with a hole cut in it for the branch to poke through, and then the branch fabric was hand-sewed around it. The apple was the most fun; I had to make four before I got one I was satisfied with, but I think it looks suitably juicy. I used cotton sateen, silk noil, tulle, silk gauze, mercerized cotton, and habotai silk.
The facts were these:
When I was three, my father died. My mother met her second husband when I was six years old, and after they had been seeing each other for several weeks, she took me to his duplex to meet him. He had an apple tree in the backyard that was absolutely covered in ripe apples, and I really wanted to pick them. So much, in fact, that I don't remember anything that was said or done; I just remember staring at the apple tree. Finally, he said we could go pick some. It was a great day. In retrospect, it was especially great, because I had just met the man who would become my adoptive father.The Adoption Judge Was Kind of a Jerk
I did this piece fourth, but it comes second chronologically. It was the most three-dimensional of all of them, and the most challenging in that respect; I had no idea how one would go about constructing a human head from fabric. In the end, I built a skull from wire and gorilla tape, then just kind of winged it; I've actually got no idea how it came together, it was a miracle. I'm really pleased with it. He's pretty intimidating up close, actually; you might not be able to tell from these pictures, but his podium is curved outward, so he leans over you and glares.
The facts were these:
My mother remarried, and my new dad wanted to adopt me. I was very excited but also nervous, as we had to go to the courthouse and talk to a judge, since I was old enough to be considered a "free-will" adoption. When we got there, the judge was a huge sourpuss. He acted like he was presiding over a divorce or something, not a happy event like an adoption. He made me really nervous and uncomfortable, and I was happy when it was over and we got to leave. He always stuck in my ten-year-old mind as this looming cartoon villain, though I'm sure he was just sitting at a desk or something.I Was Out of Bait
This one was the second one I did, and one of the most fun--ripples and water splashes are super fun to sew! It actually sits on the floor, so you look down on it, since it's supposed to be the surface of the lake I live on. The fish has a really basic mesh cylinder inside him to support him, and the rocks were made from wire mesh and covered with fabric.
The facts were these:
I went fishing out on Lake St. Louis with my parents one day. We had been at it for a few hours and it was getting dark. I hadn't really caught anything, just some little minnows or whatever. Finally, a fish stole my worm and I didn't have anymore bait. My parents weren't quite ready to leave, so I threw my hook back in one more time out of boredom, even without a worm. When they said we could go, I pulled my hook back up, and about screamed my head off because this absolutely HUGE bass was attached to it. It was the biggest fish I ever caught, and I wasn't even trying. I remember all our faces looking shocked, reflected in the water.Down the Road, Not Across the Street
This one was the third one I did, and was the easiest technically, though it took a long time to sew down each of those tiles (they're individual pieces). It has the frame, but no armature, since none of the 3D parts actually stick out. This one got the most attention at the show, although about half the people were interested and half were disturbed.
The facts were these:
I had a friend in high school with some fairly severe emotional issues. She used to cut, starve herself, that kind of thing. She was an absolute slave for attention, and even though I loved her, she exhausted me. When I got a boyfriend, I guess she felt threatened or something. One night, while her parents were out of town and she was babysitting her little sister, I got a call from her sister that she wouldn't come out of the bathroom and there was red water coming out from under the door. I drove over there as fast as I could, broke the doorknob on their bathroom door, and found her lying in the tub, blood everywhere. She'd slit her wrists. I got her out and took them both to the hospital (her parents wouldn't come home from their trip--ugh), but then I realized something. She'd tried to kill herself once before, and she knew the direction you're supposed to cut to kill yourself. Yet this time, she cut the wrong way. It bleeds a hell of a lot and is really scary, but isn't likely to kill you. I figured out, both by my own deduction and by talking to her, that she had done it for the attention...basically, to test her hold over me. I made sure her sister was taken care of, called her parents, then left and never spoke to her again. You want to help people, but there's a point when it just gets too toxic.They Scattered My Brother's Ashes on a Beautiful Afternoon
This one went together very easily technically (I made it in the weekend before the show!) but was the hardest to work on emotionally. Still, it was fun to install the draped gauze cascading down the wall, and this was the general favorite at the show. Nothing tricky here, just TONS of silk gauze (maybe 10 yards in the clouds?) and very pale dye colors.
The facts were these:
When I was just about 16, my oldest brother, who was 32 and a commercial pilot, died in a plane crash. We still don't know what happened to the plane, though the investigators think it's likely that a bird got sucked into one of the engines. Either way, it was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I absolutely wouldn't have gotten through it without my wonderfully supporting boyfriend, who saw me through it all. A few weeks after his death, when the investigation was concluded, his friend, who was also a pilot, scattered his ashes over the airport he flew out of. It was an absolutely stunning day, the kind that would have made him sprint to his plane to be out in. Even though it was horrible, I was at least thankful for the weather, being so cooperative for his last time to fly.
Well, that's all the pieces. If you've made it this far, congratulations! A few bonus pics, just for fun:
My brothers and sisters. It's really awkward to take a picture around this freaking branch!
Facing down my childhood demons.
You wouldn't believe how many people did this over the course of the night.
I got pretty flowers! (Ignore my deranged expression.)
My family all came up in this massive van they rented. Funny story: on the way back, they stopped for gas, and found one of my co-exhibitors' friends sitting at the gas station. Their car broke down and they couldn't get home! So they squeezed 4 extra people in, and drove for three hours. Hilarity ensued.
Well, there you have it! Comments are much appreciated. Have a wonderful day! I know I will, because I don't have to work on all this anymore.