I've finished my undergraduate degree. I haven't yet graduated(i think that is next week), but aside from writing my self evaluation, I'm done with all the work. It feels very good. It has been almost exactly 10 years since I graduated high school. I took a lot of time off school, some was my fault, some wasn't. There were times when I wasn't sure if I would ever actually finish, so it feels good to have finally done so. Now on to grad school.
Here are some photos of the piece I have been working on all quarter. I have never spent so much time on one single piece. It was very gratifying to work so long and so hard on one thing.
My class has a show up of our quarters work. I was impressed with the quality of my classmates work. We had a really great teacher, Matt Hamon. A nice guy who really challenged us about our work. He challenged us both aesthetically and philosophically. He almost forced people to think deeply about what they made and why. I had never had a teacher so philosophically inclined before. It was very nice because I've often wished art classes were more intellectually challenging.
Here is the piece and below it is my Artist Statement.
The entire piece folds up and can be carried on one's back. I wish I had a photo of it folded up, but I was rushed when putting it together to put in the show. After I take the show down I will take some better photos, including photos of me carrying it on my back.
This was my artist statement for the piece:
Our relationship with nature is pretty weird. We have spent much of our existence as humans going to great lengths to liberate ourselves from its destructive powers yet we also celebrate it through all forms of art. We label our products with 'all natural' to tempt people into purchasing it. We romanticize nature to extreme degrees, myself included. We have zoos and nature reserves which allow us to experience nature in safe ways. We have taken nature and removed it from Nature. We have romanticized it and compartmentalized it.
We value things which are 'Natural' yet most of nature is harmful to humans. Disease, natural disasters and wild animals ravage human beings at worst, are entirely indifferent to us at best. For much of our existence we were in a constant struggle against the wild and only recently have begun to 'win' the battle. However, as much as we have fought against and protected ourselves from nature we have also celebrated it. Nature is, after all, very very beautiful.
In our modern world, nature is little more than a symbol to most of us. We may have wolves on our t-shirts or paintings on our wall, but how many of us have actually encountered a wild wolf? Even if we could, would we want to? What do these symbols mean to us?
Nature and animals have been a common theme throughout the history of art. Making art of nature is the ultimate romantization and compartmentalization of it. We use animals as symbols of human emotions and behavior. We make images of nature to stand in proxy of actual nature to the point where the images have come to supersede nature itself. We are now much more familiar with romantic representations of many animals than the actual animals themselves. How often when seeing a beautiful setting does a person think that it looks like a painting or a photo? In many ways paintings and photos of nature have become more 'real' to us than nature itself. One reason for this is simple, Nature is dangerous paintings are not. Nature wants us dead. Paintings of nature don't. Art allow us to experience 'The Wild' in a way that is safe and comfortable and in doing so it transcends the very thing it is seeking to depict. We love nature, but only insofar as we can keep it tame, in our control and beautiful. This is what my piece is about.
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