Date of Submission

Fall 2010


Stephen Shore

Abstract/Artist's Statement

I began this project by accepting my love of things that are boring. Working with little criteria, I obsessively studied the everyday objects that make up my life, creating a self-portrait in stuff. In so doing, I found it was not the objects themselves that were in fact interesting but the minute, individual quirks that define them. These subtle markings of use transform the ubiquitous objects into artifacts of my own existence: my life and my practice. As I continued to make these documents of my life, it became apparent that these objects were symbolic of my own happiness, well being and sanity.

I have been trying to be happy for a very long time now. Happiness exists as a free-flowing entity that cannot be created, controlled, or forced. It is the thing you see out ofthe corner of your eye that disappears once you look at it head on; in staring at happiness, it will continue to elude you. Of the things with which we qualify this concrete idea of happiness—family, love, friends, health, etc.—one thing continually provides an unbiased point of entry: an examination of the mundane. In other words it is the smaller physical objects found everyday that sheds light on what it is that makes one happy. This practice of investigation is not a means to an end, as there is not a specific product in mind, but instead a meditation on my own happiness.

In the same way that we use everyday objects, we use images presented by the external world to further understand and guide ourselves. The appropriated collages serve as visually emotional guidebooks. The images present comestible states of life that we in turn absorb and never fully examine on our own terms. Similar to the objects they are only symbols of what defines a comfortable structure of living.

While searching for these images on various women’s Internet magazines and blogs, I took the “Are You Happy” quiz. After a lengthy survey of my skills as a communicator, spiritualist, and thoughtful person, I scored a 53. Despite the web site's complete lack ofexplanation as to what that number meant in regard to my happiness—other than I was a 53—I realized that this was exactly what this project did for myself. I was not attempting to explain myself; instead I was simply looking at what I had, what objects, what projected emotions and what line of thought I held within me. These images and this practice allow me to look at myself clearly and without bias, but also begin to understand what it means to consider yourself a happy person.

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