Tuesday, January 24, 2012

All Dolled Up Artist Talk... Part 4

This is a continuation of prep for my upcoming artist talk.
Part one is here
Part two here, and
Part three here!

Back at Memphis College of Art, I let myself explore some non-painting classes that I always wondered about.  It turned out to be a really useful meander (is that word right to use?  I am sure my ruthless editor (husband Joseph) will not think so [I kid, I am super grateful for him, especially since at this rate, my 1 hour talk will be turning into an all night lock-in ((wait, that sounds awesome))]).  I took a fiber arts class, which was amazing.  We learned how to dye fabric, silk screen, embroider and batik.  It was my first time ever being exposed to the world of fiber, and I loved every minute of it.  It was nice to be out of the painting studio and forced to think about what I wanted to communicate artistically with another medium.

More helpful still was my Book Arts class.  I had always assumed that the class was meant for illustration majors who wanted to illustrate books.  But Book Arts is really about art making realized in the form of a book, which can be interpreted very broadly.  Now that I am trying to define it, I feel the words getting all congested in my brain.  In the class, we learned different ways of binding books, which was refreshingly exact and methodical, and we also had assignments of creating more personal artist books.  I think all art majors should be required to take the class, it was so useful in clarifying what I wanted to communicate.  It is unlike painting because things needed to be planned out; there is no getting lost in the material and waiting for happy mistakes. 

My work during this time was still about my father, but it was changing.  I was trying to convey what it is like to have memories of someone that you cherish, but can't trust.  Whenever I think of my father, a collection of stories come to mind, and before my mom got sick, I never questioned their authenticity.  But, after she got sick, we of course talked about my father a lot, and family came around to visit, so I could ask questions.  I realized that these stories I had were more like legends.  They were an amalgam of things I remembered, things others told me, things I replaced with photographs, and things I just made up.  Here is the first book I made during the class, it is called the Day The Door Flew Open, and it is based on a memory of my father driving my family in the car, and then my mom's door flying open, her inching out, and him pulling her in and shutting the door.  To hear it stated plainly, it maybe doesn't sound like much, but in my memory it is very dramatic:

The writing was done with a letter press, which MCA has, and is very fun to use.

I used a photo transfer process to show how my memories of my father are aided strongly by family photo albums.

Each page reveals more and more of the memory, like it is something that needs to be "chipped away" at.

The last page reveals my complete memory which is made using a linolium printing process and then watercoloring over it and photo-transferring on top of that.  Those are my three brothers in the back seat.
Here is another book I made, which is more like a diorama.  It is about a memory I have of grocery shopping with my parents.  I would always beg and plead for quarters for the vending machines to get gumballs, or tiny toys.  My mom would never want to give them to me because she didn't want me to be spoiled, but my father was more of a softie, and he would let coins fall through the holes in his pockets so that I could find them and reap my reward!

It is hard to tell from the image but we are in the "cereal aisle" of the grocery store.  That is probably every child's favorite aisle.  It is basically like watching cartoons.  The cereal boxes I used for the diorama were color photos of japanese cereal boxes.  I thought it would help make things seem more surreal and uncertain, like my memories.

For this last book, I was researching toy theaters, to learn how to construct the box.  That research led to my final thesis work.

To be continued.  Thanks again for reading!  I am tired and have been fueling myself with Twizzlers, which is odd combined with red wine, but at least they pair up color-wise. 


unsightly said...

I love this part. I remember you during this phase of college, and how much you loved book binding. I don't think I ever got a chance to see the actual books, I just heard you talk about them. They are beautiful.

Leeanna Butcher said...

These are fantastic Nichol- just wonderful. I am so jealous that you had a course like that- the letterpress alone is enough to make me green with envy. ;D