Personal Space Project

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

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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.

Alternate Persona Reflection: 48 hours of creating art

I found deciding on an alternate persona fairly challenging because none of the ideas I came up with truly resonated with me or felt meaningful to me. Becoming a narcissist or a skater boy for 2 days surely would be a drastic change in my behavior and interactions with others, but they didn’t make sense to me; I didn’t feel as though I’d gain anything from the experience of being those personas. Morgan helped me dissect this dilemma, clarifying that what I chose should be something that is meaningful to me, that comes from within, that addresses something I am currently challenged with in my life.  Making time to create art regularly.  Suddenly the project became much more relevant and meaningful to me.   With Morgan’s guidance, I solidified my persona by creating a criteria that I would follow closely for 48 hours:

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I anticipated that the challenge would be time-consuming, but I underestimated just how much time I’d have to channel into it – a whole lot.  I limited myself to spending at least 5 minutes minimum on each artwork. Originally, my idea had been to create new art every hour, but I quickly found that my biggest challenge was the dissatisfaction derived from starting a new artwork each hour and not being able to finish them, because I would enjoy making each artwork and take 15-20 minutes on each one before realizing I had to start a new one for the next hour.  Although I knew this project would be challenging, I still wanted to enjoy it, so I shifted my guidelines so that I could spend any amount on time on one artwork if I was enjoying it or wanted to finish it; I kept the requirement that I could not go over more than one hour without creating art.  This proved to be a challenge, but much more satisfactory and productive than trying to start a new artwork every hour and leaving each one half-finished.  My art for the 48 hours ranged from:

  • Drawings (pen & marker sketches in notebook; large chalk portraits on blackboard during class final, not pictured on blog)
  • Painting
  • Chalk drawings on patio
  • Poetry
  • Ukulele playing and singing (recorded, I can’t seem to upload it on this blog but can send via email if you’d like)

 

The 48 hours proved to be very difficult in terms of deadlines, and I found myself getting exhausted, but I kept going.  I turned down plans with friends, carried my sketchbook and and spent most of my time at home creating visual art. Honestly, I sacrificed some study time for other classes, because I wanted to; I was in a mindset and a way of being, making art felt better and seemed much more important to me.  It really felt like a breakthrough.  I felt like I used to, when I was younger and had fewer responsibilities and would draw/paint all day.  I felt lighter after the project, more whole.

This project is what it took for me to understand the meaning of taking enough time for myself to create art.  It means spending some time alone, it means literally scheduling time to myself everyday to create art.  Creating art is important to me because it is a healthy form of expression for me, it makes me feel, and it feels natural to me.  This project has inspired me to make a conscious effort to create art just once a day. I know I can do that.

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My friend adding on to my chalk art.

 

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7. Spoken word

BUZZT. The 411-911 text blares on my phone for the 19th time this quarter. My eyes glaze over as I skim the same content, which is getting far too predictable.

I try to feel something. I try to make myself feel sympathy for the victim and contempt for the assailant. I feel nothing.

 

What the FUCK.

Why am I not upset? Why am I never furious and afraid when I hear this news? Is it because it’s so grotesquely common?

March 6 2016.

March 31 2016.

April 17 2016.

April 21 2016.

April 22nd, 2016.

April 23rd 2016.

April 30th, 2016.

That’s seven people in the past month. SEVEN students, violated and assaulted.

 

Why don’t I feel connected to these victims?

I’ve never experienced anything like that, so that must be why I can’t relate… right?

 

A flash of Deltopia weekend jolts me. Passing out alone in my bed at 5 pm, then waking up drunk to someone I thought was my friend – fingering me.

I didn’t say stop, because I was fucked up. Did I like it? I don’t know. It doesn’t FUCKING MATTER; I was drunk and asleep.

 

I remember standing in the kitchen, mulling it over with my best friend.

It’s not a big deal, I kept saying, he’s my friend and he was drunk too and I know he’s a good guy and so I’m not gonna report it or anything,

 

But that response sounds all too familiar.

 

He apologized over text. He never apologized in person. Honestly, an apology wouldn’t change anything.

I haven’t seen him since. I hardly ever think about it, I’m fine. But part of me wonders. – why the fuck I don’t feel more UPSET?.

 

Why is sexual assault so normalized on our campus?

 

Yeah, he was my friend, but that’s not an excuse anymore. I can’t stop wondering how many other people, just on that Deltopia Saturday, talked over something like that with a friend and decided not to say anything.

 

No excuses about who did it and whether they’re your friend or not. Assault is assault.

4. Sequence project reflection

For me, the sequence project was a healing, meditative process. I have been moving through life at such a quick pace this quarter that I forget to slow down and can feel not at my best. I wanted this project to be a slow sequence so that I could be alone and think for a while. It came to me that I should do something with daylight, the passage of time in a day…Boom, capturing a sequence of the rising tide was perfect. I wanted to draw something in the sand that would wash away slowly as the tide rose over a few hours. I  thought representing my family would be meaningful to me, because I wanted to release stress over family issues over time. My parents struggle to raise my brother, a troubled teenager, and I often feel my parents place an unfair, perhaps unconscious pressure on me to “save” my brother or be the guide in his life.  I decided to represent my mother, father, brother and myself as four circles in the sand, myself as the innermost circle as I feel surrounded by the pressure placed on me by each of my family members. Through the washing of the tide, I envisioned each pressure coming from each circle or family member would fade and disappear.  It was a very slow process; I brought earphones and a notebook to sketch in case I became bored, but I realized as soon as I found a comfortable perch on a rock to sit and watch, that all I wanted to do was sit and watch. I started out feeling lonely as people passed by. But as the three and a half hours passed, I started to find peace and comfort as each ring in the sand slowly disappeared and the shadows of the bluffs spread over the sand. It was a sequence not only of an external state of the sand, water, sun and breeze, but of an internal state as well of my body, mind and spirit as I sat there.

The class critiques were extremely dynamic and effective because everyone had to present a 2-D photographic sequence, so we had a stable, constant criteria for everyone’s work. I was amazed by the creativity in each person’s piece. Artwork content ranged from “a day in the life” themes, to a barely noticeable or dynamic event unfolding in a second (Ariana’s and Momo’s pieces), to a thematic work being played out (Joseph’s piece), to pieces intending to be played out as a sequence (Patsy’s stalking piece). I thought Alec’s piece was brilliant by itself because it pushed me to think of time not even as a sequence of moments moving from one second to the next or one year to the next, but as a string of memories that create an identity and that will forever be unfolding into the future.  Are art projects about being creative within whatever boundaries we are assigned? Or are they about transgressing the boundaries?  I surely think transcending boundaries, like Lianna’s spoken word dance piece, are riveting when done meaningfully.

In the creative process of my piece, I did not actually give much thought to the manifestation of my family members in the sand; this proved to be an issue as many classmates took the rings to be a bullseye or target, which are loaded with symbols.   I also thought it was interesting that Jacy derived serious religious undertones from the stairs in my piece that were cut off at the top, as if I were asking a question about searching upwards. To be honest, I thought the stairs provided an interesting compositional balance to my piece, but I did not think of the meaning that could be extracted from them. Morgan and her friend visiting observed that my piece called upon Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty.  I did not consciously think of Smithson’s piece when creating my work, but it now appears to have had an obvious influence in my piece, from the water levels rising to change the designs in the earth, to the shape of the design itself (spirals and rings). Morgan offered some helpful advice about knowing the dialogue I am engaging in when I utilize symbols in my art, so that if I wish to use similar forms and symbols to those an artist has used in the past, I know exactly what I am trying to convey in my work and how I can clearly communicate my message both in my work and when I talk about it.

3. Group Experience

For our group experience, Jacy warmly invited us to her home for brunch on the Sunday before our class final. It was so gleeful walking in and realizing that she was not speaking for her persona, and despite her silence she was a wonderful and attentive host. I had never been to anyone’s house while the host was in silence. Jacy made delicious crepes, I brought co-op almond butter and cookies, everyone brought a little treat, and we had mimosas out on the sunny patio.  I sat at a chalk table with Jacy and Zoe, and we got to draw little doodles on the table around our plates. We all buzzed about ideas for our persona and some were eager to share, while others (like myself at the time) were unsure or wanted to keep their ideas a secret.  It was so perfect out, and the atmosphere between all of us (Jacy, Eric, Eric’s girlfriend, Zoe, Momo, Dominique, Joseph, Sarah, Lianna and possibly someone else who isn’t coming to mind currently) was so relaxed. I realized this class has helped bring us together, but beyond that, we are all people who care about each other and wanted to be together, in that moment eating crepes under the sun.

2. Response to Jeff Page AIR Exhibition

Jeff Page’s exhibition at the Red Barn was such an engaging, delicious experience. His artwork’s use of the gallery space, growing from corners in the wall and extending in lines from one room to the next, allowed me to engage in his art in a way that wasn’t only visual, but also physical as I moved my body through the space. My friend Julia came with me; she has been exploring her relationship with art as she hasn’t had much exposure to galleries and museums, and it was a rich experience being able to move through the gallery with her and talk through her reactions.  I used the skills I’ve honed from class critiques to ask questions and break down the formal elements of Jeff’s pieces:

(Disclaimer: photos of artworks from gallery taken from Jeff’s website)

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How does this piece make you feel?  I don’t like it, Julia said about the above piece.  Ok, can you think of any emotions it makes you feel?  Anxious, unsettled, like my personal space is being invaded.  Are there any elements in particular in the piece that make you feel this way? The black exclamation point is just…I wouldn’t have put it there. It’s so accosting. Do you feel like maybe the artist meant to make the viewer feel accostedMaybe…I don’t know, I just don’t get it.

Julia and I talked for a while in front of this piece about how art doesn’t necessarily have the intention of being “beautiful” or visually pleasing to the viewer. I suggested that for me to be able to appreciate a piece at a first glance, it has to engage me in a dialogue with it. I reasserted my belief to Julia that you don’t have to understand an art piece to appreciate it or engage in a conversation with it; if we “got” all artworks right away, that would take the intrigue out of experiencing art.

I definitely did not “understand” the above piece’s message right away, but I did feel emotions it evoked in me. I felt anxious, like a deadline was awaiting. The blackness of the bold line, the way it tilted down at a 45 degree angle and slashed the piece in half was very anxiety-inducing. (Interesting to note that I read the line as titling downward because Western culture reads from left to right; I wonder how a viewer from Eastern culture would interpret the line). I felt that the circle at the end of the line didn’t contribute so much to the formal qualities of piece so much as it did to the symbolism of the line itself- I interpreted it as an exclamation point, signaling alarm, an imminent deadline, even danger. The combination of the bright orange and purple spray paint scribbled in the background was also unpleasant to the eye; both are very bright and attract attention in an alarming way. But strangely, although the black line caused anxiety for me, it also was a release of tension in term of compositional balance – not only did its cutting the piece in two add an elegant balance, but its blackness provided a break from the blaring colors behind it. This piece allowed me to experience both tension and release.

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What caught my attention in the above piece was the string hanging down from it.  I loved that it wasn’t just placed with one loose end hanging freely, but rather, situated in a loop that ended around knee level and really, really made me want to take hold of the loop with my hand or foot and just yank it.  This piece was extremely successful in its ability to engage me in conversation with it. I immediately wanted to touch the piece, interact with it; only after did I notice that I found the color palette (pea green and yellowish cream, some white and black, orange and purple) extremely unpleasant, but it didn’t matter, because what kept me focused on the piece was fantasizing about pulling that string.

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This piece made me feel sturdy, secure, stimulated. I loved the squareness of it- not only did the artwork itself seem secured to itself and the wall via the metal bolts, but the metal pieces themselves were rectangular, and the space surrounding the work became engaged in a geometric play as the negative space that would be left by the absence of the piece would be rectangular as well.  The geometric quality and small scale of this piece was further enhanced by its placement in a gallery with Jeff’s massive multimedia installations that utilized clothing and textiles in loose, flowing arrangements (I wish I had taken photos…). The turquoise, yellows and pinks bursting from the white smears of paint (and plaster?) were so playful and delightful to look at. Then the use of red on the border created a POP reinforcing the solidness and tangibility of the piece offered by its geometric-ness. I also thought the paper behind the bottom square added a unique and playful element to the tactility of the piece.

I appreciated talking with Jeff about his inspiration behind the bow-tie theme in his work as well as the meaning behind the “About?!” phrase.  I found it clever that he utilized his frustration at the requirement to verbalize and explain what his art was about, as the content of his work. He said that the bow-tie theme came from his exploration of corners as spaces to create and present his art, and realizing that his corner art appeared to look like giant bow-ties. He further played with this theme, using the concept the word “bow” to represent his feeling that he must use words to explain and justify all of his works and then “tie up” each proposal with a “bow” to make the art acceptable by AIR standards.  His frustration at the necessity to explain and put his art into words resonated with me as I often have trouble justifying or explaining why I used an element in my piece when it “just felt right.”  I was inspired by Jeff’s strong use of the space in the gallery as an element essential to the presentation of his art itself, and found his play with words and symbols very clever.

Below is one of his pieces on his website that was not in this gallery but that I found inspiring and very relevant to what he was saying. The stop motion video of the progress of this piece is AWESOME. Making, re-making, repainting the work because there really are no words. If words could completely explain art, we would not have art.

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