Statement of Practice

I spend a lot of my time thinking about inequality, and all the problems in this country and world that stem from it. More specifically, I think about the lives of children in America, and how no child gets to decide what their circumstances are, how these circumstances completely shape the kind of person and citizen they will eventually be, and how vastly unequal these circumstances can be. I also find myself thinking often of how adult interests continually manage to obstruct positive change in the lives of children.

A topic that most interests me is crime; why people commit it. I haven’t come up with the answer, but in my mind I’ve come up with a solution: create environments for children in which they have every opportunity to succeed. Along those lines, I’m interested in communities, and how they work together to create safe and successful environments, and what can be done to strengthen communities.  I think a lot about our government and how the interests of those in power always drown out the voices of those who need our help the most. I spend a lot of my time thinking about how I can make a difference.

I find the creative process cathartic. When I start I have no idea what I’m going to do, and once I do figure that out,  that concept changes again and again, ten hundred times. It can be extremely stressful, but every change leads to something better and more successful until by the end, it is almost always exactly what I want it to be.

In most areas of my life, especially in my academics, I’m a total control freak, and I hate not knowing what’s going to happen and not being in control of myself, the paper, project, whatever; the creative process forces me to try and abandon that control, or at least deal with the fact that I have no clue what’s going to happen. From past projects, I continuously found myself creating work that had a general plan but began more with many pieces. I would take those pieces and install them in a way that felt right in that moment. It took about 4 or 5 projects like this before I even realized I was doing it. Something about letting go of the plan and creating in that moment of installation was obviously attractive to me. It took me a long time to get here because it involves being open to change and not knowing what the end product will be, and I still continually find myself fighting that and trying to make a plan, but in the end, the creative process requires you to let go and just do; just create.

I create primarily for myself. I enjoy that relationship with the work I get from that process of having many pieces and letting them tell me where they should go. I am so drawn to installation work because it allows me to focus on the relationship with that piece in those moments I put it together. Each installation allows me a whole new relationship. I do, however, think a lot about my viewer when I work. I want viewers to have a unique relationship with the work. Because of this, I try to keep things vague. I have my relationship with the piece, and I want each individual viewer to be able to have their own relationship with the work, without me spoon-feeding them anything. I like the idea that my work could be interpreted to mean an infinite amount of things, so I think about that when I’m working.

Many of my past projects had little “meaning,” in the sense that there is some sort of message behind them. I made prints of me and my puppy becuase I loved her, and I created a school of fish installation becuase I thought it was cool. For me, my life as an academic; thinking about crime and government and education, was very separate from my art-making. There was no real reason for this; it’s just how it was. I’ve pushed myself this semester to create work that brought my two worlds together and meant something for me. I decided to focus on my areas of interest: criminology, as it relates to  public policy, education, and community advocacy. As I dealt with using an artistic medium to communicate my focus, I found I continued to force myself to use traditional mediums and techniques that read to me as “artistic,” but it just didn’t feel right. I was artsing it up for the sake of artsing it up. I realized the process I took needed to be something else, something that created the balance between my art life and my academic life. It has definitely pushed my own boundaries of what I view as art, and I hope it does that for viewers as well.

 

 

Works in Progress

As of now I am in the process of elaborating on a project from last semester and working on a new project.

The project from last semester, I printed a lino-cut of a prison cell on to pages out of various textbooks. I have a large relatively large quantity of these prints, some small and some larger, and I’m working on picking out more textbook pages on which to print. I want a really large quantity of them and as of now i think I’m not gonna decide what I want them to look like as a finished product until i’m putting it up in the gallery.

The other project i’m working on, i’m having a little more trouble finding a way to put it together that I actually like. Basically the idea is to take various terms from criminology theories and portray them as identifiers of criminals in the prison population.

For example, there is a theory called strain theory that posits, in the simplest form, that people commit crime because the goal every American strives for is the “American Dream,” but not all Americans have the means to achieve that end, so they resort to illegitimate (criminal) means of attaining it. The theorist calls these individuals “innovators.”

One way I’ve considered conveying this idea is through the use of the “hello my name is…” name tags. What I like about them are they are so recognizable and as Andy put it when I told him about the idea, they are polite for you, and serve as a means by which you identify yourself, even if they usually just read your name. I also enjoy the fact that a prisoner’s actual “name-tag” is just a number. That’s all they get to identify them, but instead of putting a number on the name-tag, I wish to put these terms like “the American dream,” “innovator,” ect. I like this idea, but the problem I’m having is finding a way to convey that these are prisoners. I haven’t found anything i find satisfying yet, so we shall see.

The other way I considered to realize this idea was by utilizing inmate Id numbers as a way to show that they are a prison population. As you’ll see in one of my pics, one way I did this was by creating a kind of manifest that just reads “Prisoner 06342578: Innovator,” and so on down the list. I’m starting to have a fondness for this approach. I like that it has 2 forms of identification, neither of which serve to identify x individual at all (seeing as my point is not that this prisoner is indeed an “innovator,” but rather to demonstrate the immensity of theories out there that all say completely different things, making the issue of ‘what makes one criminal,’ extremely complex) I think I’m gonna put this list and expand it on the computer and print it out and see how I like it.

I also attempted taking the above two ideas and combining them in a sense by taking small canvas plates and writing/painting on them to create a name-tag-like thing with the 2 identifiers, but I’m not a big fan so far. I deff need a smaller paint brush. But what I don’t like about it is that it doesn’t have the formality of the list idea, and it doesn’t have the personal effect of the actual name-tags. It seems more like an attempt to arts it up, and I think it’s unnecessary.

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My Interests as a Human Being

As a Law and Society major, I am very interested in law, and the legal system, as well as crime, and prisons, and the role of judges. What interests me most is theories on why individuals commit crime, and what those theories then suggest as remedies to the crime problem. I am also interested in education reform, and community organizations that work to environments that foster children’s success. Related to these interests, I am interested in how our government, with all its checks and balances helps and hinders policies that advocate actual, and long-term change in American institutions. Unrelated to the above interests, I am interested in animals, specifically ocean life, sharks, and dogs.

When thinking about my these concepts, the questions they raise for me are, why do people commit crime? What are we going to do about it? What is the best way to help children grow up to be successful? Why does our government spend its money on easy fixes, like pumping money into  prisons, and not on proactive programs that would work to keep people from going to prison in the first place? How much discretion should the judicial system, specifically judges have? Is our system of government as good as it gets, or are there ways to make it better? How cool would it be to be a shark?

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