Ruminations: A Psychoanalysis of Self Through Art
If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older. My work is inherently sentimental: I explore my own memories, investigate my family history, and navigate my feelings as I settle into young adulthood. This body of work, Ruminations, dissects, psychoanalyzes, and obsesses over my childhood experiences. I do this through the representation of objects, patterns, and both abstracted and constructed spaces that blur the lines between artistic mediums. They beg the questions, what am I looking at? and why? Presence, absence, grief. Isolation, tension, stillness. Discomfort, comfort, discomfort. For me, ruminations are uncomfortable, repetitive feelings that come from highly emotional events. A memory serves as a trigger for a strong feeling that comes with the remembrance. It soaks into every crevice of my daily life, and my past is now concurrent with the present moment. In my art, I portray the concept of rumination through fragments of memories. Instead of showing an action, I show the result of it. Instead of painting the contents of a difficult conversation, I sculpt a nonfunctional telephone. I don’t paint about loss directly, but I paint fields of empty space and ghostlike figures. Ruminations aren’t about the fine details, but rather how they continue to make me feel long after something has happened. Just as I am figuring out my past, I want the viewer to string together my thoughts and feelings through my symbols, narratives, and emotions depicted throughout my work. If every piece is a sentence, my work together forms the whole poem. Bitterness. Regurgitate it and spit it out. Again. I seek to bring the psychological space that obsessive thoughts occupy into the physical world in an immersive, sometimes playful experience. Material exploration is essential in the portrayal of rumination, giving each piece tactility beyond its visual presence- leaving something that is “stuck” with the viewer. Within painting, I demonstrate the idea that thoughts are not always easily identified and labeled. The fragile, blurred lines of our own mental spaces become visible through oil paint, gesso, textured mediums, various paint thinners, and varnishes. I am interested in the interaction between painting and ceramics, as clay is an intuitive material that allows me to engage an installation through form and space. I use colored slips, glazes, and a catalogue of techniques related to surface treatment to create scenes on a variety of clay objects. The forms themselves reflect domestic objects, cementing the viewer in a space that feels reminiscent of a home. Ceramics relates to my paintings in a way I find represents not only my creative process, but how psychological space functions within my mind. Through the translation of my thoughts into physical objects, my art serves as a visual encyclopedia of both the lived experiences of myself and my thoughts regarding my family. “The chicken or the egg?” they ask. I think about grass. I have so many questions. About life, about the past, about what it means to be conscious. Most of my ruminations are just questions. I can’t answer most in general, let alone with words. And I think that’s why I make art.
Thesis completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Alfred University Honors Program.
Honors thesis, Painting, Ceramic Materials, Isolation