There are several interests I have within this series of abstract composition still lives. I want to explore the way that we interact with objects. I want to look at the way things become apart of the material world and the idea of the creation of the object. Finally I wanted to challenge the way a viewer interacts with a piece of art.
Objects have their own language. When they are seen, touched, smelled, tasted, listened to they carry with them a history of interactions. A vast amount of information and connections spread across their lives. There are many ways we can interact with an object, we can use any of our senses to physically explore the object and its material qualities, or we can look beyond the surface to what the object does within the human psyche. an object can hold within it a memory of a person who interacted with it before.
I have a small pizza cat toy that I bought for my cat Kahn to play with. After he died I kept the toy to remind me of him. When I hold the toy I remember the way that he played with it the first time I brought it to him, wildly attacking it in hopes of getting at the catnip hidden within. I remember sitting in the bathroom with him because he kept peeing all over the house and I wanted to make sure he was alright comforting and playing with him. And I remember taking him to the vet and putting him down because I was unable to afford the treatment to make him better, Crying as I held him during his last moments, his large yellow eyes staring up at me wondering what was happening to him. Then I remember swimming in cold Lake Michigan waters, still crying at the loss of my friend, but then I smile and think to the fun we had and the comfort he always gave me. In this way objects can be very personal, holding within them an entire history of love and friendship.
Objects can also be universal, carrying a collective or shared experience. A piece of the Berlin Wall that was torn down in 1989 holds a collective history of that wall, it brings up ideas of separation and unity for different reasons. a East Berliner and West Berliner will each have different associations with the object but the collective history is undeniable it can not be separated from the object.
"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but he is no longer the only one to do so. When some remote ancestor of ours invented the shovel, he became a giver: he could plant a tree. And when the axe was invented he became a taker: he could chop it down." (1) Not only man, but everything has the capability of creating, of manipulating other objects available to them. Man can plant a tree but so too can a sparrow. Creation is the manipulation of the material available to the creator. All objects apart of the material world are created. Whether molded by the hands of a craftsman or by the slow moving sheets of glacial Ice that covered vast territories long before humankind changed the course of rivers and flattened mountains.
In Frida Kahlo's painting Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, Kahlo creates the painting as an object but she also creates a special object within the canvas. The thorn necklace with hummingbird tightly digs into her exposed neck, this object carries with it symbols and references to both the crown of thorns Jesus wore on the cross (another created object) and the hummingbird, a symbol for luck in the Mexican culture. Kahlo also imbues her own personal history on this object, the idea of her own suffering and mental state after having divorced Diago Rivera as well as her history of pain due to the bus accident she suffered in 1925. This painted object becomes a symbol for Kahlo's suffering, remove that necklace from Frida's neck and the painting in which it resides and it still is the same symbol, it transcends the work in which it was first depicted. In this method of creation Kahlo has painted an object as well as the history of the object.
When a viewer walks up to a piece of art work they tend to stand at a distance, taking in the work as a whole. They see the scene set up before them, taking in hundreds of marks at a glance. The marks work together to create the players and the players in turn work together to create a scene. While viewing the whole can be a rewarding experience I want to challenge the viewer to look at art in a different way. To look at the marks. In these works it is not the sum of the parts but rather the parts themselves that are greater.
To do this I have placed the objects on a blank background, taking away this reference point to force the viewer to approach the work differently. The compositions are meant to move the viewers eye around the page, but breaks within the flow stop the viewer and get them stuck in certain areas. The objects stand apart, separate from each other, to be considered in their own time. They are chosen from a variety of backgrounds so that each viewer will react to some of the objects but not all. By taking away cohesion in these works my hope is that the viewer will have a connection to just a small part of the piece, the trade off being that they might reject the rest of the objects and even the piece as a whole.
1) Leopold, Aldo, and Charles Walsh. Schwartz. A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There. New York: Oxford UP, 1987. 67. Print.