How does one release their potential to express and translate their stories onto paper without words? My exhibition is largely about the translation of people’s feelings, stories, beings, and lives into visual form, integrating the materials, tools and processes I have learned through studying both fine art and art therapy. The work encapsulates stories of struggle, stagnancy, and thriving, placing my own instigation of the process between maker and materials alongside many other individuals’ exploration into their own creativity.
To create these works, process was highly important in allowing for pieces to be made in mass quantities by involving participation from outside sources. I invented a system for my participants, as well as myself, to follow and exacted just enough freedom in the choices made by others to show their voices were being heard and seen. This stemmed from giving up my own control in exchange for spurring creativity in my participants. Almost half of the show is created by other people willing to dabble in the arts and express themselves creatively.
With 54-54, the process of this piece came from interacting with people all over the country. From family to friends, I sent each of them a playing card and asked them to create a self-portrait within the confines of the face side of the card. This was to explore and stem creativity in the everyday lives of my participants. There was an overwhelming sense of surprise in the enjoyment of creating that most people felt when following the system and felt joy in the spark of creativity it brought into the middle of their days.
In The Interviews, I took six people from the initial card sending and conducted and recorded interviews about stories in their lives, beginning with struggle, then stagnancy, and finishing with one of thriving. While they spoke, I conducted art therapy exercises which is where the drawings and the clay sculptures were derived from. Clay went with struggle, pastels and marker went with stagnancy, while thriving was matched with watercolor and pastels. The fourth part of this piece was my visual interpretation through acrylic paints, interpreting one of the stories from re-listening to the initial conversation through audio recordings, thus dismantling it and reconstructing the story through paint as I listened to it for a third and final time.
In Quilt Connection, my process was taken from the left overs of both 54-54 and The Interviews. I took quotes from the interviews and from each of the three stories relayed to me by all six interviewees as well as the envelopes and notes that had been returned to me through the playing card self-portraits. I even utilized the surplus of cards I had left from having to bring in substitutes when people were unable to help based upon uncontrollable life situations, and even the literal instructions I had sent out to them.
And with knowing the process, as you go through the gallery... think about it… imagine yourself in this space, a space of vulnerability, in the paint, in the clay, in the paper.