The title makes it sound like In-depth was a disaster, but it was actually really great this year! Although I had a math test two days later, so that’s kind of aftermath I guess…

Anyhow, I promised in my last post that I would put up my artist statement and some of the editing that went into it, so this post will tell you a bit more about that and some cool display stuff that I didn’t get into last time. I’ll talk about the display first, because it’s easier and more visual to explain.

Display and Display Process

full view final productI’ve already talked a bit about why I used a trifold to hang my display (easy to transport, paint, works well to hang things from by making holes and bamboo sticks), so I’m going to get into some of the other problems and ideas that became part of my display. First of all, the trifold began to bend (just slightly) from the paint and weight of the objects. So we ended up backing the trifold with foam core, and laying it flat with heavy books overtop to straighten it out. That worked pretty well. We had already decided that bamboo sticks were light and sturdy, so we made hole in the poster board to put them through. However, we put the stick in from the inside going out, so the natural resistance of the trifold tried to push it inwards, which meant that we didn’t have to worry about putting anything to the ends of the sticks to stop them from sliding off. Another piece that helped with keeping the sticks in place was that the holes were quite small, and quite a tight fit for the sticks, so the friction was really strong against them moving. Also, the bamboo was irregularly shaped, so the bulges and curves kept it from moving as well. The only thing that went wrong with the bamboo sticks was the painting. I painted them to be a similar grey-blue to some parts of the backdrop, but the acrylic paint I used didn’t stick well to natural materials like wood or bamboo, and kept flaking off at the slightest tough. Eventually, we just used a different kind of paint and re-painted all the sticks, which worked fine. But I learned a valuable lesson about acrylics, and how to use them. If you ever do need to paint a natural material with acrylics, you can put gesso (or other canvas preparers) on the object, and that will help it stick.

I planned the layout of the sculptures so that the sea was in the lower right half, and space junk was in the upper left area. That way, the sculptures would interfere least with each other, and it also just made sense to have space higher than the sea, since most people think of space above us, in the sky, although technically it is below and all around us as well. Because both sculptures reached into the middle of the trifold, I made the middle of my board the lightest, to make it look blank and less busy and balance out the space. I also made sure that I had two light-coloured focal points, one on the right-middle of the trifold and one on the left-middle. These would be either the start or end points of each sculpture and would also subtly balance my display out.

space hooksjelly attachments

I chose wire to hang my projects from because it was stronger than string, would swing less, and was easier to secure in one spot on the bamboo sticks. However, I used two very different approaches for hanging the sculptures. The Jellyfish was hung with two straight lines of wire from the center of the frame, which was very straightforwards. The Space Junk, on the other hand, was more complex. I wanted to show the cheesecloth I dyed, because with space attachthe remnants of light blue and coral it looked like nebulas swirling around in space. I also knew I wanted the sun in the back of the mobile, because it was large and bright, and would draw a lot of attention away from the other pieces if it was in front. My original idea was to hang all the pieces from the fabric, but that made the fabric (of space) really lumpy, and disrupted the smooth spacey look I had going. So I ended up hanging everything from the outer ring of the mobile. However, the sun was a lot heavier than everything else, and tipped the mobile down on one side. We counterbalanced the sun by adding hooks in the back of the mobile to secure it to the trifold, which gave it a shallow angle down towards the audience, and showed off the fabric nicely. I attached the wire like basket handles to the mobile, and used the length of the handles (which went over the bamboo sticks) to vary how steep the angle of the mobile was.

Artist Statement

My first time writing my artist statement, I did some research on websites, which all gave varying views on how long they should be. One said 3 paragraphs, with 2-3 sentences each. That’s not much. Another one said it should be about 500 words – that’s way more! Mine started out short, and then I added more concrete details and it got long really fast. My first version is below.

Part aesthetic, part activism, I create sculpture art to raise awareness of social and environmental issues that impact this planet. I reuse scrap material in my art to take objects out of the waste stream, and add value to what is otherwise seen as trash. My unique materials often prompt me to re-create nature in abstract or symbolic ways, utilizing shape and colour. Working with found and recycled objects always poses a challenge, but also adds another layer of depth to my art; it allows me to present familiar, everyday objects in unfamiliar ways. Through art, I aspire to convey both the destruction and beauty of our earth, and inspire others to protect and care for our home.

A special thank you to my mentor, Ms. Joy Kirkwood, without whom none of these ideas would have ever come to fruition.

I did edit this a little- I read it over in my head, compared to some other artist statements, and then sent it to my mentor for revision. I still didn’t really know what an artist statement was supposed to look like, but I was hoping for the best.

My mentor was kind to me – her criticism was gentle, but really useful! It was as follows:

Your artist statement is cohesive, well crafted. Good start. My main thought is to find ways to make the statement more personal, add a few details. Be specific about your project and your thought process as you were when you talked to me. i.e.: Using junk to recreate space junk and using plastic to make the jelly fish to bring attention to the plastic in the oceans. Also your statement ‘Working with found and recycled objects always poses a challenge’ makes me wonder how working with recycled objects was a challenge for you… and how you overcame it.You and I also talked about how man’s footprint is reaching into the greatest depths of space and ocean. In your closing statement, do you mention both earth and space as your work is about?

I wonder if the closing statement needs a step between ‘convey’ and ‘inspire others to protect and care’. Maybe for others to rethink (reconsider, re-examine…) their relationship in the light of your project? I’ve added words in red (suggestion only) to show what this might look like. “Through art, I aspire to convey both the destruction and beauty of our earth, and inspire others to rethink their relationship with the world and be drawn to protect and care for our home.”

One website, www.artbusiness.com/statement.html suggested: “Be brief. A good length for an introductory statement is two to four paragraphs of no more than three sentences each (about 300-400 words)” (mine was 100 words, so I had some room to grow)

Here’s the synopsis of information I gave out in schools in AB on creating an artist statement:

Three paragraphs: Beginning, Middle, End. Each is only 2- 3 sentences long. Your statement also needs a title.

  1. Beginning: Introduction to your work. WHAT it is and what is your intent? Describe style (Realistic, abstract, expressionistic…)
  2. Middle: HOW is it made? What materials, processes did you use?
  3. End: WHY you make your art, What it all means.

With this to chew over, my statement gradually evolved into this:

The Final Frontiers

Part aesthetic, part activism, I create sculpture art to raise awareness of social and environmental issues that impact this planet. I reuse scrap material in my art to take objects out of the waste stream, and add value to what is otherwise seen as trash. My unique materials often prompt me to re-create nature in abstract or symbolic ways, utilizing shape and colour. For example, all I use to distinguish Mars from other planets in “Space Junk” is a red wheel with a small white button, hinting at Mars’s one polar ice cap. I revel in being able to communicate the idea of an entire planet by two different coloured shapes. I use mainly plastics in “Jellyfish” to symbolize pollution, because plastics are notorious for their impact on ocean life. As microplastics already infiltrate ocean creatures through biomagnification, the jellyfish piece provides a glimpse into the future: if we continue our habits, our oceans will eventually be made of plastic.

Working with found and recycled objects is both a blessing and a curse. The materials I work with are limited to what I can find, requiring imagination and problem-solving to incorporate into a piece; however, they also generate new ideas and add greater meaning to my pieces. For example, plastic water bottles cut best as rings following the bottle contours. However, in this case, my materials invoked new ideas within me; I had not planned to include air bubbles (made of water bottle) in “Jellyfish”, but the unique size and shape of the water bottle rings were too good of an opportunity to pass up. In addition, recycled materials add greater meaning to my pieces. For example, the parts in my space junk sculpture are similar to the space junk orbiting Earth – small, metal or plastic pieces that devastate the hulls of space shuttles. By using these materials, I translate the items that are causing the problem into part of the solution.

Through art, I aspire to convey both the destruction and beauty of our earth, and inspire others to rethink their relationship with the world and be drawn to protect and care for our home. The two pieces displayed here show mankind’s reach infiltrating the depths of our oceans and encroaching upon the expanse of very universe.

A special thank you to my mentor, Ms. Joy Kirkwood, without whom none of these ideas would have ever come to fruition.

As you can see, it got a lot longer and much more specific. I feel like this artist statement is one that, when reading it, adds more depth and interest to my sculptures, and could only apply to the two sculptures that I made.