Tuesday, January 31, 2012

All Dolled Up Artist Talk.... Part Five

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

For my very last semester at MCA all I took was my painting seminar class. With my previous semester away from the painting studio, I was anxious to start on my thesis work and I knew exactly what I wanted to be making. While doing research on how to construct my dioramas, I found a toy theater book at the library. It is called Toy Theaters of the World and in it, it had images like these:

I was instantly drawn to the pictures in the book, and I loved it so much I actually purchased it, which is huge for a cheap-o like me.  Especially since it is out of print.

I love the facade, the orchestra and all the layers.  I love that there is a pretend audience already there to watch your pretend play.  Also, it's so grandiose, with all the gold and important looking red curtains, but it is a silly object, made out of cardboard and meant to played with on kitchen counter tops.

The toy theater was the perfect medium for what I wanted to communicate about my dad.  Looking at them made me nostalgic for childhood in a similar way that thinking about my father does.  They are also self directed, literally in that the person who plays with the theater is acting as director, actor and audience all in one, which I thought made sense with my memories as well.  Plus they are just simply joyful, fun little things.

This is the picture that gave me the general idea for how I wanted to construct my theaters for my thesis show.

Here is the first one I did.  Again, this is based off of the story of my father "rescuing" my mother from flying out of the car door.  I liked that there was both actual space, with the spacing of the different layers of wood, and implied space with the effects of the paint.
This next one is based on a story my family told me about how I jumped into the public pool without my swimmies on and my dad had to jump in after me with his work clothes on.  The cherubs playing trumpets on the facade are my three brothers.  They have instruments to represent their role in telling me the stories that make up my memory of my dad.  They are also in the back of the pool standing on an inflatable alligator.  Our faces are all photocopies of photographs, and my dad's hands are actually xeroxes of my hands taken directly from the photocopier and then shrunk down.  I did that to show my role in creating my memory of my father.

This final theater is not about a story but rather about how everyone always told me that I had my father's cheeks (big, chubby, rosy).  I remember that being confusing as a child.  I didn't understand how I could have my dad's cheeks when they were on his face and I had my own.  On the facade of this theater, my mom is the statue on either side of the stage.  She has a harp and a scroll to represent how I hear about my father.

I loved making these theaters.  If there are such things as muses, then during my final semester mine was right there beside me, shouting in my ear instead of being coy.   I feel like my whole art school education is summed up nicely in them.  For my final critique, my painting professor brought in a guest from a nearby college, and the only advice he had for me was "eh...  funk it up".  I was so angry at the time, but after some reflection, I think the advice is pretty spot on.  I am still really proud of this work, but I think there was a certain level of control that I wasn't willing to sacrifice when I made them.  Maybe it is because I was too close to the subject matter.  I don't enjoy giving advice, but I will say this, when you are studying art in school, if you are comfortable with what you are doing, then you should throw a wrench in whatever it is.  It's hard and scary, but that is when you are really growing as an artist.  When I look at these theaters now, I want to travel back in time and have more fun with the paint and the composition.  There should be octopus tentacles in the water to give it a sense of danger and a quickly sketched cape around my fathers shoulders.

At graduation I was very fortunate to receive a traveling fellowship, so 6 months after I was done with school I went to Prague to take an intensive puppetry workshop taught by a Czech puppet master.

To be continued...


unsightly said...

I love how personal you are making this. I wish I could be there when you deliver the whole thing, I think it's going to be great!

erin said...

These pieces are so, so beautiful.