Experimentation with highly saturated and bright colors into my art work gave it an extremely playful and imaginative quality. This was a point of departure for me after working primarily in black and white photography in the past at a university in Ft. Collins. This has opened my work to different realms of creation involving creating in the forms of sculpture and new media art. Art is a constant process of evolution of creativity which allows for experimentation. These evolutions lead into investigating space with installations. Viewers of my work are able to interact with installations – thus inserting their own experience and reactions into the art. Interjecting fog and digital projection let the viewers to interact with the fog and change the projection. At that point, my work added in the elements of color, installation, and interaction.
My work as a multimedia artist encompasses three areas which are sculpture, photography and digital media and is represented in my self-portrait series “Reflections of Me.” Photographs are bright with saturated color were created using night photography and show the human figure as more than an object for sexuality but also an abstraction of form. Edward Weston’s work was highly influential. In Weston’s work, an object was photographed in front of a simple, black background. The viewer was forced to focus on the beauty of the object itself.
The realization to the audience that the figure is just a shape when simplified, takes away the sexual overtones and objectification. I have tried to force the audience in this work to focus on just the shape(s) that a figure can make rather than the fact that the figure is nude. The human body is beautiful and just because a figure is nude does not mean that it has to be sexual or objectified. This idea of the male gaze is something that has it’s beginnings of the history of photography as well. Being female, the idea of the male gaze has its effects on a woman in our modern world. This is something that I have not fully come to an answer to in my life or my work but frequently happens to be a reoccurring theme. Similar to Kara Walker who uses form to question race in America; however, the question of the male gaze’s effect on society is represented in the piece. These ideas are also behind the video in my series as well, that a nude female can represent more than just a sexual object but a moving form. Jennifer Steinkamp has been highly influential in my video work. Her artworks make whole environments for the viewer to experience and she also uses abstraction along with bright neon-like colors in her art. For example, Steinkamp’s The Wreck of the Dumaru is where the artist’s retells a story of a great uncle shipwrecked on a wild sea. Although this piece tells a more in-depth story than of a person taking a bath, the use of color and shape to create an installation were influential. Another influence to this piece was Frieda Kahlo, and because of my predominately Hispanic-American upbringing, Kahlo’s artwork has spoken to me. One of my favorite paintings by Kahlo was What the Water Gave Me where Kahlo’s imagination is reflected in the water. The video in this series tells my personal imaginative experience of taking a bath which is a flood of abstract shapes and color. Although the inspiration for the work for me and Kahlo were similar because it happened with in a bath, we depict the experience differently.
The black and white photographs are from 4 sculptures recently completed and created using an alternative casting process of photographic test strips and glue. Test strips are a vital part of darkroom photography and they contain a latent image of the final piece. In an effort to reuse those materials, I incorporated this new casting process to using the otherwise wasted material.
Not only are these beautiful shapes cast from my own figure but they also show that a great deal of beauty is on the inside. The use of the photo test strips also shows that we are reflections of our experiences and the things we “see” in the world are not just of our selves other people we experience life with. These experiences can create such great beauty in the world. The manner in which I photographed the sculptures was influenced by Edward Weston’s photograph named Pepper #30 with the focus on an object versus the background. Another important influence on my sculpture work is Jean Tinguely who used various found objects to create new sculptures. The idea to reclaiming waste materials to create a new sculpture was significant in my sculpture series.
Since my childhood, I have grown up around art and artists. After a life time of art, I began to feel something was missing. With all these changes, my artwork and I have begun to change into something new and has allowed for the growth that I felt is needed in my work. I needed art and something else. While completing my undergraduate degree, I completed several grants that worked on problems such as the homeless and immigration. By combining art and education in grant projects, I was able to create original artwork and help others in my community. Art involves problem solving and creativity which lends itself to understanding social problems that need a positive change. My work is leaning towards “Art that helps” and reaches others to see things in a different light. With the influence of Christo and Jeanne-Claude whose sculptures The Gates not only created a community but changed the way New Yorker’s viewed Central Park, the idea of changing a community’s perspective on the world is influential to my idea of “Art that helps.” Art and the process of creation can solve more than studio problems, it can help heal the world.
From this experience, I wanted to build my knowledge of education and pursued a master’s in education. I hope that having built a background in education as well that I can use education as a way to reach others. Education is an extension of my art. What I hope to accomplish with my MFA is to become a better artist that can create positive change with both my art and education. With my MFA, I want to pursue more grants to help more people. I see my grants being large projects like Christo and Jeanne-Claude that take years to complete but also help to solve social problems and make great art. I believe with art and education, nothing is unattainable or cannot be solved.