Date of Submission

Spring 2014

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Studio Arts

Project Advisor 1

Mark Ganzglass

Abstract/Artist's Statement

My senior project is an installation environment in and around my studio in UBS. It incorporates sculpture, painting, sound, and video. Most of the sculptural elements are made of foam, paper, or cardboard coated with plaster-impregnated gauze and painted with acrylic paint.

My original idea for the project was to create a kind of “fun house” environment, full of strange monsters and wacky, distorted spaces. I wanted the piece to inspire in its viewers feelings of disorientation and repulsion, as well as playful curiosity and wonder. Although I had to scale down some of my ideas as I realized the limitations of space, time, and my own construction skills, I think that the overall vibe of my art is still true to my intentions. The installation consists of one room, separated into three sections. One section contains a miniature city overrun by giant rats. Another section contains a runway, upon which strut two sculptures that are meant to look like emaciated models (whom I have dubbed my “RatShit GrLz”), and a video projection of the GrLz walking and posing. The third section is a small, partially walled-off room within which is a sculpture meant to resemble a morbidly obese person. They are melting into the surrounding walls and furniture, watching a large cardboard tv set.

I came up with the idea for my title when I saw a quote written on a big cabinet/box in the Fisher Center theater where I worked over the summer. It said something along the lines of; “There is a crack, a crack in everything, and that's how light gets in.” It's from a Leonard Cohen song. I'm not a huge fan of Leonard Cohen, but I saw the quote on the rigging box, and it stayed with me. I think that it gets at what I want my art to be about; the cracks in everything. The little dark spaces in life, in the world, in people's personalities and relationships. How there is a little darkness and imperfection in everything and everyone. It couldn't be any other way, because nothing can ever be perfect. I don't see this as a “necessary evil,” something that must be put up with to in order to experience the positive aspects of life (“without darkness, there can be no light,” sort of thing). Flaws can be beautiful in themselves. Cracks are where shadows and spiders live, where things begin to fall apart and decay. The crumbling foundations of old buildings, the soft, damp underside of a log, sodden with mushrooms and pillbugs, tiny pools of water in rocks and tidepools, teeming with strange slimy creatures. These things hold a mysterious, whimsical beauty for me.

I came up with the idea for my Rat Shit GrLz when I was running and listening to the song “Like a G-6” on my iPod. The song is basically about getting shitfaced and partying. I was imagining some grotesquely thin women with oversized breasts and long fake fingernails, trying to dance to the song in ludicrously tall/enormous high heels. They were trying to dance and act sexy and glamorous, but their oversized body parts and shoes made it difficult for them to balance, causing their movements to be awkward and jerky.

I think that this is my interpretation of standards of beauty for women, especially when one thinks of the the plastic dolls and photoshopped models that are marketed to girls/women. I am particularly amused/alarmed by “Bratz Dollz,” and things like that, which take the already impossible body proportions of Barbie, and exaggerate them further. Enormous heads, faces dominated by huge, doe-like eyes and pouting lips, and they pretty much don't have noses. Despite their baby-like head/body ratio, they have the exaggerated bodies of fully developed women. They have perfect round breasts and bodacious donks. They look like aliens, with their swollen heads and huge, staring eyes. Yet despite their monstrously exaggerated features (no, because of them), they represent a standard of beauty. Rather than inspiring fear, like an alien or a monster would in a movie, they are seen as cute and pretty.

I'm not saying this is a bad thing. I don't think that these toys should be taken off the shelves, or that you shouldn't let your kids play with them. I just think it's kind of amazing, kind of funny, and kind of strange that these things exist, and that we accept them. For me, it is also somewhat unsettling. If it has taken me this long to realize how surreal these everyday objects and images really are, I can only imagine what else in the big wide world I may find that will surprise and shock me and make me think; “Why are things this way?” and “Where did these images come from?” The prospect both frightens and excites me.

My art is about the idiosyncratic and the imperfect. Imperfections are the starting point of both comedy and tragedy. I can laugh because if I didn't, I would surely cry, and I can laugh so hard that I forget what was so funny in the first place, and end up in a panic, sobbing and gasping for breath. But I wouldn't want my art to be so dramatic as to end up in screams or sobs, or so slapstick that it would lose all substance. My aim is to find something in between. Because life is both subtle and shocking, I would like to mirror that somehow. I want to show people that this is how I think about life. That I am overwhelmed by both joy and sorrow, and that this transcendence can be found in both the mundane and the sublime; in the saccharine pastels of a Hallmark postcard, and the brutal violence of war. Our world is many-faceted, often manufactured, and media-saturated, and this can be both depressing and hilarious.

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