Tag: nontraditional

Medicine as Material

 

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During my residency in Chicago, I had several discussions with my advisor Molly Zuckerman-Hartung. She was awesome and gave me so much inspiration and guidance. During one of my individual studio visits with her, I was talking about my obsession with the color pink, especially bubblegum or Pepto Bismol pink and she said, “Why don’t you paint with Pepto Bismol?” She then went on to suggest that I paint with a variety of medicines just to see what happens.

The next day I think, I went to Walgreens and picked up some of the cheapest medicine I could find. I got the Walgreen’s version of Pepto Bismol, aspirin, sugar free cough drops, ibuprofen, cold medicine, glucose tablets, and glucose liquid, plus some extra things like alcohol swabs and socks for diabetics.

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I made a couple pieces with the medicine. My favorite is the first piece that I made. I took a piece of unprimed canvas and pinned it to the wall so that it would lay horizontally with assistance from a chair. I proceeded to squirt, splatter, and drip the pepto, cold medicine, and some liquid watercolor onto the canvas. The liquids sat on the surface of the canvas for days before finally getting absorbed into the fabric and drying. It was pretty interesting to see how it changed each time I went in my studio.

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I also experimented with imprinted surfaces. I put a layer of spackle on two small boards and pushed ibuprofen, cough drops, and some bottle caps into it. I also squirted cold medicine onto the surface as it dried. I ended up painting on top of everything once it was dry.

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Here are a few more pieces where I mixed paint and liquid medicine:

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The Sugar Sickness is Coming for You

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During my first residency in Chicago, sugar became an important material for me. In week 2, I was thinking about sugar a lot. I thought about going to birthday parties as a child and not being able to eat the birthday cake. I thought about the countless times people have said to me, “You can’t have sugar, right?” I thought about my struggles with my weight, especially in high school. The nice thing about being in grad school is that I was surrounded by other artists who I could discuss my thoughts with.

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Like I said in my last post, a colleague suggested that I actually use sugar as a material in my artwork. The thought fascinated me and I was eager to try it out. The first thing I did was research sugar skulls. I knew that sugar skulls are pretty sturdy and last a long time when made correctly so I looked for a recipe and then bought the ingredients. I wanted to make insulin vials out of sugar, but first I needed a mold. I bought moldable plastic on amazon and that worked well, but my final mini sculptures weren’t as clean as I wanted them to be and they broke easily. I didn’t make any more of them because of time limitations, but now that I’m home I plan on experimenting to find a better method/sugar mixture.

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I also tried painting with sugar and I was much more satisfied with these results. I mixed sugar and water on a stove until the consistency was gel-like and then I mixed some with acrylic gel medium and sometimes acrylic paint and I left the rest plain. I applied the sugar mixtures on Yupo paper in a variety of ways:

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Later on, I made more sugar mixtures and applied them onto unstretched canvas in several layers. This one also has food coloring in it.

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My favorite part about this piece was watching the sugar crack and fall off, revealing this crystal texture underneath:

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I also painted a long piece of black canvas with sugar. Here’s part of it:

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I made a few more pieces on Yupo paper and watercolor paper and even added a few drops of blood to the sugar. Get it? Bloodsugar?

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I plan on continuing to experiment with sugar in my work because whether the results are good or not, I really enjoy the process. In my next post, I’ll talk about another non-traditional material that I worked with. 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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