Recap of Proposal before my reflection:
My personal space project explored my desire for setting healthy interpersonal boundaries in my life: in the family realm, in my social circles, and with strangers. I have found it challenging to solidify firm boundaries between myself as an individual and others, in the spheres of personal space and energy. I believe that every person has an energy field ranging in strength and size, and that a person with a powerful and wide energy field can overwhelm and disrupt another’s; likewise, someone with a volatile or lacking energy field can sap the energy of someone with a stable and strong field, without either party’s knowledge. To me, energy means someone’s literal physical energy that they exude to the external world, or someone’s aura, attitude, disposition toward others, and perspective on life. Energy fields are fluid, and the interactions between peoples’ fields are constantly shifting throughout life.
My “personal space” to me is not necessary physical, but more so a way of conceptualizing my own energy field in its full health and spiritual potential. A healthy personal space means being aware of my own impact on others’ energy fields, and others’ energy fields on my own. In this sense, I strive to be sensitive to when I am accidentally or intentionally sapping someone else’s energy or when someone else is draining mine in an unhealthy or unreciprocal way. This means leaning on another to the extent that their self-care is compromised, or demanding attention from another person when they need to direct their attention elsewhere. Along with this, healthy personal space includes maintaining my mind and heart receptive to new energy fields that will come into contact with mine, and being aware of how much I am letting our fields overlap and how much energy we are giving each other.
Protecting and honoring my personal space does not mean to exclude anyone from entering; I believe it would be unhealthy to close myself off from others. The stature and size of this inner boundary reminds me to remain aware of who I let into my space, and how our energy fields are influencing one another’s.
The point of this piece is not only to bring awareness to others about the impact of their own energy fields, but also to serve as a meditative practice for myself as I visualize and set up healthy boundaries in my life and watch others engage in them.
The sturdiness of the bamboo or wood poles in the ground symbolizes my intent to establish firm and healthy boundaries. The movement of the flowing textiles juxtaposed with the steadiness of the poles in the ground represent the constant shifting of my boundaries and remind me of their eternal fluidity.
Reflection after photos
The creation process took many hours; two and a half full days of work from morning to sunset. It was a meditative process for me, and it reflected the attitude set by the alternate persona project: allowing time and space for myself to create art. On the first day, my friend helped me measure, cut, and drive the bamboo poles into the ground. We fixed a center point in the grass used a tape measure as a protractor to space out and place the bamboo poles. We hammered a long metal nail into the ground and removed it for each pole to be placed in its spot. The next two days, I was alone almost the whole time; friends stopped by when they’d see me from the bike path and would express curiosity in my project. It was fun for me to see their reactions and have little check-ins from friends. I listened to music the whole time and really enjoyed the creation procedure; this is the largest art piece I have ever created, let alone my first installation, and it came together so slowly but surely, and it was extremely satisfying to see my vision slowly synthesizing as I worked with my hands.
I hardly ever make three-dimensional art, so it was really a novel and exciting process creating a structure with my hands. A large part of the excitement was because of the notion that I and others could experience something I created not only through our eyes, but with our entire bodies, through movement and touch.
I think the dynamic part of my piece was very successful; the labyrinth guided visitors into and around my work into the center, where I invited them to sit with me. I enjoyed watching them walk around the rings into my personal space; I could see the act of being guided toward my inner ring bringing awareness to each visitor in every step, and I felt a vulnerability in both of us whenever we sat together in my space. It was a gentle and aware vulnerability, a mutual understanding that neither of us would harm or reject each other and that we were both there to learn from each other. With each person who chose to accept my invitation to enter my space, our physical, emotional, and spiritual impact on each other became very apparent as soon as we both sat down in my space.
It was a curious experience to see people stop by and ask what the project was about; some were eager to enter, and others were more wary and stood at the edge. I only told people what my work was about if they asked; I felt it was important for every individual to experience my work without me immediately imposing my intentions on them, and I wanted them to derive emotion/feelings/ideas out of my piece without any influence from myself. When visitors asked about the meaning behind the piece, however, I really enjoyed the experience of telling them about it – some really “dug” or understood my ideas about energy fields coming into contact and how we influence each other, and others seemed to be confused. But the act of verbally stating something that I was coming into conversation with in my life, creating healthy boundaries, was self-realizing in itself and supportive to the work itself. The actual creation process using my hands, as well as explaining my work to those who were curious, were together a very healing process. The process brought my intention to create healthy boundaries in my life into reality. I hope I helped gently bring awareness to visitors about our impact on each other, but even if I did not, creating this project was very meaningful for me.