Category: Undergrad

From the Vault: Colorful Illustration

This illustration was part of a series of four 18″ x 24″  illustrations that I did for a drawing class in college. I don’t really like the other three pieces, so I’m just sharing this one.

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The series is about the struggles of a long-distance relationship and it incorporates some lyrics from a song by RHCP.

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From the Vault: Rubber Band Installation

I’m in the process of working on things that I can’t share just yet, but I wanted to continue posting on here in the meantime. I was looking through some old artwork of mine and I thought I would share some of the pieces. Enjoy! :]

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This is an art installation made up of over 1000 rubber bands and some wire. I was so sick of the smell by the end, but I really liked the final project. This was my first project for a 3D design class I took back in my second semester of college (2010).DSC01678

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Conjoined Twins Project

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This time last year, I was taking my first sculpture class at JMU. Sculpture is super intimidating for me, but I really surprised myself with the work I did in that class. I mentioned this in a previous post about my sculpture class, but the theme of our final project was conjoined twins. We were free to make basically any kind of sculpture that related to this topic. My professor encouraged us to do a lot of research and explore all possibilities. We scheduled one-on-one meetings with him to discuss our findings and ideas.

I did a bit of research on conjoined twins in general and learned that there are many different types of conjoined twins. One type that particularly caught my interest was parasitic twins. Parasitic twins occur when twins begin developing, but don’t fully separate, and one of the twins becomes dominant at the expense of the other twin. The parasitic twin is therefore severely undeveloped and often does not resemble another human at all, rather, extra body parts. The word “parasite” has such a negative connotation and that’s what I wanted to base my project on. I didn’t want to make something that parasitic twins would actually wear or use, I wanted to create a statement piece. My idea was to alter a jacket to fit grown parasitic twins if they were to make it into adulthood. I wanted to add a cage to the front to reflect the negative connotation of the term “parasitic” and to communicate a feeling of shame and embarrassment.

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I have very limited experience in altering fabric, so this project was definitely a challenge. I got most of my supplies from Goodwill over Thanksgiving break: a wool coat, two belts, a patterned skirt, and a red button-up shirt (which I ended up not using because of time limitations). The first thing I had to do once I had my supplies was to create the cage. I created the cage by cutting a few rods of steel, bending them, and then welding them together.I added an extra horizontal rod at the top of the cage to hold a “curtain” that I cut from the patterned skirt. The pattern on the skirt was a cluster of black leaves on a white background. I chose this pattern as a reference to Adam and Eve covering themselves with leaves out of shame after they were cast out of the Garden of Eden. In the case of this project, the leaves are used to hide the parasitic twin out of shame.

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With the cage completed, I was able to figure out how to attach it to the coat. Because of my lack of practice doing this kind of work, my method was pretty crude. I did a lot of “guesstimating” and hoped that it would end up close to how I envisioned. I cut out most of the front of the wool coat and then sewed one side to the cage using thick red embroidery thread. I used the color red not only for unity because the coat itself has red in it, but I also used it to emphasize the sense of invasion. I attached two belt buckles to the other side of the coat, which then fastened to the ends of the belts that I sewed onto one bar of the cage. I’m happy to report that it turned out really nicely–in fact, it exceeded my expectations. The only problem was that the end product was a bit too large when I modeled it, which took away from the effect. Other than that, I was really happy with it and so was my professor.

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Have you ever created wearable sculpture art? Let me know about your experience in the comments! Thanks for reading :]

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The Bookshelf Chair: A Collaborative Project

Today I want to tell you about one of my first collaborative art projects. In the spring semester of my freshman year of college (2010), I took a 3D Design class. I have to be honest and say that I struggled in this class more than in any other art class I took, but I definitely learned a lot from it. I’m happy to share, however, that the semester ended on a really good note for me.

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The final project for the class was a collaborative chair project. We had to work in groups of three and create a chair out of non-traditional materials. I think we had about 4-5 weeks to complete it. The first part of the assignment was to create three prototypes and my group’s weren’t that great… It wasn’t until we hit up a thrift store in Harrisonburg (one that became a favorite store of mine later on) that we landed on a really good idea. We thought about creating a chair by combining two bookshelves and adding on things you might find on a real bookshelf to create parts like a foot-rest, arms, a back, etc. We did have to clear this idea with our professor since wood is definitely a traditional material for chairs, but the idea itself was non-traditional so she approved. The original sketch was pretty rough, but we eventually came up with a really nice design.

Now that we had a 2D design, it was time to make the actual chair. Here are the supplies we ended up using: 2 identical bookshelves (about 3 feet tall each), lots of old books, and a candle holder that was just for decoration. As freshmen, we didn’t have cars so on one of the trips, we had to walk about a mile from the thrift store to the art studio carrying stacks of dictionaries and other thick books. All I can say is that it felt way longer than a mile.

The actual creation of the chair was the most challenging part. I was lucky to have such hard-working group-mates. I’m not sure how much time we spent working on the chair, but I’m going to attempt to summarize the process. We wanted to create a throne-like chair, which meant we had to deconstruct the bookshelves a little bit. We cut a semicircle into one of the top shelves to create a curved back, got rid of the other top shelf, and attached the two bookshelves together.

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Old dictionaries were arranged to create the seat, back, and armrests. To make the armrests more comfortable, we cut them into a curved shape with a band saw. The dictionary  used for the seat “cushion” was opened up to the page that had the definition for the word “chair.” Clever, right?

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The footrest was created by adjusting one of the shelves to where we were able to slide it in and out easily. We glued the books on that shelf to the wall so that they wouldn’t move when the shelf was pulled out.

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We put a lot of effort into making the chair look as finished as possible. We even painted the visible nails so that they would match the color of the wood. My group was really happy with the result and I was really proud of myself for contributing to such a cool piece of art that was also functional (it was surprisingly comfortable to sit in!). Thanks for reading :]

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I Graduated!

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It feels like I just graduated from high school yesterday, but here I am, a college grad. I have mixed emotions about the whole thing really, and I don’t think it will truly hit me that I’m not going back until August when I’m not packing up the car with all my things to move back to campus. It’s bittersweet for sure. A big part of me feels very ready for this next step (whether I can clearly tell you what that next step is exactly…well that’s another story). I graduated cum laude and I’m super proud of my accomplishments. I’m excited to see what opportunities may present themselves to me. I’m excited for something different and new.

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Don’t get me wrong, though, I am pretty nervous about the future. I’m still in the job-searching period of my post-grad life and waiting anxiously for an offer. Right now, I am looking for a position as an art teacher hopefully not too far away so that I can live at home for a little while.

I do miss JMU and the people I became friends with there. I miss the beautiful campus and the feeling of independence I had. It’s kind of sad knowing I’ll never go back there as a student. I’m also not looking forward to paying off my loans… There are definitely some perks to being done, though. I get to be around for more family stuff and spend more time with my boyfriend and friends who live here.  I also don’t have to move all my stuff again (for a while at least). I can hopefully manage my diabetes better now that I’m a little more in control of my schedule and what I eat, etc.

I have lots of plans for the summer to keep me busy while I nervously await a job offer! I have another art show in August in Downtown Harrisonburg, so I’ll be working on stuff for that. I’ll put up more information on that show very soon. I’m also in the process of opening an Etsy store! I’ll mostly be using it to sell my hand-painted clothing, but I’ll probably put some small drawings and paintings there too. I will also post something about that once the store is up and running.

I’ve been contacting local artists, galleries, and boutiques in search of more opportunities to get my work out to the public. I’m kind of unsure as to how I should approach this kind of thing, so I’m seeking advice from those who know more than I do :P

I’m not too sure where I’ll be in a few months, which is kind of intimidating, but I’ll be sure to share my journey with you guys on here :] Stay tuned!

grad15Me and my super supportive parents :]

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Sculpture

As an artist, I love making things. I’ve loved making things for a long time now. For some reason though, I never really got into 3D art until I had to take required classes in college. During my time at JMU, I’ve taken 3D Design, Metal and Jewelry, Ceramics, and Sculpture. Although working with these mediums did not come as naturally as painting or drawing for me, I really enjoyed these classes. I took sculpture this past fall and was so worried about it because I just had this idea stuck in my brain that I’m not very good at 3D art. I didn’t expect too much out of the class. Boy was I wrong! I learned so many things and was so proud of myself by the end of the semester. Here is a brief summary of everything I did:

1. Hybrid made out of chicken wire, burlap, plaster, wood, and newspaper

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The requirements for the first project were to make a sculpture combining elements from three different things: a vehicle, a fruit/vegetable, and an animal. I chose a boat, an avocado, and a kangaroo. This project evolved quite a bit and I was very happy with the end result.

2. Plaster Molds of Fruit/Vegetable Hybrids

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This was my least favorite part of the semester. Mostly because I was super tired of working with plaster by now. We had to bring in 2 fruits or vegetables, coat them with silicone, let the silicone dry, cut off the silicone (the food was starting to rot at this point so that was gross and smelly), wrap the mold with tape, mix plaster, fill the mold with plaster, let the plaster harden, remove the mold, repeat 4 more times, and combine different parts together. We had to make three hybrids (we used each other’s silicone molds) and then choose one to enlarge for our next project. I was so glad to be done mixing plaster.

3. Steel Rod Hybrid Chair Thing

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I learned how to weld! I loved welding. I felt so productive. I think this project took the longest, but I was very proud of myself upon it’s completion. You can really sit on the chair, although it’s not comfortable at all.

4. Conjoined Twins Project

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This final project had the most thought behind it. The assignment was to create an object for conjoined twins and we were encouraged to really think outside the box and consider life as a conjoined twin and what difficulties they are faced with. This explanation is a bit more lengthy so I will write a separate post on it and include the link here :]

I had to work really hard and work on projects over the weekend a lot, but I really enjoyed the class overall. My hard work paid off and I got an A. I learned that I am more capable than I often think. That’s always nice. Thanks for reading, have a great week!

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Renegade Week

Last fall semester, I took an intermediate painting class. Towards the end of the semester, we had what was called “Renegade Week”. In a nutshell, it was a chance for us to challenge ourselves by working in a group, using a new medium, focusing on difficult subject matter, or a combination of the three. I chose to focus on a difficult subject because the first thing that popped into my head as my professor spoke was to do a painting about a miscarriage. I personally haven’t gone through a miscarriage myself, but I’ve witnessed people close to me go through it and as a diabetic, I’ve thought about the possibility in my future.

I spoke to my professor, Susan Zurbrigg about how I would tackle this challenge, for it was definitely a challenge. Just like my series about diabetes, I didn’t want to make it so obvious or graphic, but I still wanted people to get a sense of what I was depicting. I also didn’t want people to think I was commenting on abortion either, so that was another challenge. I made a list of the different emotions a woman might feel after having a miscarriage: sadness, anger, frustration, a sense of failure. But I also wanted to make some indication of strength, as a sort of silver lining.

I didn’t think I would get the message across effectively without showing the female form in a pregnant state, so this is where I began. I painted the typical profile of a pregnant woman with the fetus, organs, and so on in plain sight. Here is the completed painting before I begin explaining why I painted it the way I did:

There are a lot of dark colors for obvious reasons: to show sadness, loss, emptiness, etc. Towards the bottom I painted several layers and washed them away with mineral spirits to symbolize feelings of loss again, as well as a missing piece and feeling incomplete. A pregnancy loss is only called a miscarriage if it happens within the first 20 weeks, but I exaggerated the size of the belly to symbolize how no matter how many weeks old the baby is, it’s a person, someone’s child, and its loss can leave a huge hole in the mother’s life. The lining of the area where a baby would have been has a blue spiky pattern, which I used to represent an environment that was unable to sustain life. I painted the spine very white and strong-looking to show how it takes a strong woman to get through something like this.

The most graphic part about the painting is the blood flowing out of the woman’s body. Even now, I’m not sure that I should’ve put that in there, but at the time I was feeling very unsatisfied with the piece and I didn’t think people would have any idea what it was about. I can’t say I’m entirely satisfied with the painting now, but I was satisfied with the process of painting it. I reflected a lot on the subject and kind of clarified my own feelings toward pregnancy and loss. It will always be a very intimate piece for me and that’s why I value it.

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