Ross School - Senior Projects 2010

Student: Ian Sinclair

Mentor: Jen Cross


Title: “American Leather”


American Leather was an (art) installation piece containing a variety of mediums including college, drawing and video. The art pieces were a personal reaction to present day America. All of the bits and pieces of the installation had their own symbolic relevance to different topics that makes America what is it is. Some topics include politics, authority, celebrity culture and other relative themes. I learned a lot about editing, shooting video, drawing, collage and everything in between.


PowerPoint Presentation


My Installation, American Leather, came about this summer when I thought it would be important to explore and express my honest interpretations of America. I made all of the works with the intention of mirroring America today. This meant the aesthetic of everything was energetic and colorful yet featuring symbolic metaphors of decay and disaster. Progress in America coexists with decline, whether it is social, moral or simply the natural slow death of any human over time. I chose to use collage, drawing, painting, video and assemblage because I had had a familiarity with these particular mediums and I thought they would help best communicate my thoughts. The video portion of the installment was intended to represent the spontaneity of American life, but all in a relative manner.  I wanted my work to have traces of similar past artists in the same genre so to speak. I took influence from the late Ray Johnson, a multi media artist who shares my interest in popular culture as a theme. His way of making collages by finding interesting images or phrases and then embellishing them into narratives is what I think is the most effective and creative way to make a piece. Johnson often played with the juxtaposition of two or more mediums, which gives a work art so much more depth. Another artist I found to be quite inspiring is the late Dash Snow. He has a way of expressing an idea in a dramatic manner by using found words and images, giving them new meaning. His art comes across as very honest and blatant. His collage work encouraged me to incorporate a narrative throughout a piece and to then connect it to my whole body of artwork, something I had not done previously. Like Ray Johnston and Dash Snow, much of the material for both for my video and physical pieces was found and then given another connotation. This is a significant factor in the overall meaning of my work.  From my random encounters with popular culture, I have attempted to find some kind of depth or even beauty through visual transformation. In the future I would like to pursue a career art, particularly in the conceptual field. Making an installation piece gave me the experience and confidence to explore conceptual work.

Works Consulted

Beautiful Losers. Dir. Aaron Rose. Perf. Barry McGee, Steve Powers, Shepard Fairey, Ed Beautiful Losers. Dir. Aaron Rose. Perf. Barry McGee, Steve Powers, Shepard Fairey, Ed Templeton, Harmony Korine. Oscilloscope Labs, 2008. DVD. “Beautiful Losers is a great DVD that shows the work of various artists I like who work in with the same mediums.”

Dice, Black, and Jason F. Rothernberg. Gore. Minneapolis: Picture Box, 2006. Print. “The book Gore by Black Dice and Frank Rothernberg was a major influence on my collage work. It introduced me to the combination of geometric and free flowing collages coexisting in one cohesive piece.”

How to Draw a Bunny. Dir. John W. Walter. Perf. Ray Johnson. Elevator Pictures, 2002. DVD. “How to Draw a Bunny, a documentary on the life of Ray Johnson, was a great look in a very influential artists world. It featured a lot of art (performance, collage, drawing) that was powerful. It influenced how I set up a narrative throughout my installation.”

McGee, Barry. Barry McGee. Damiani, 2009. Print.

Peterson, Oliver. Message to the author. 11 Mar. 09. E-mail.

Powers, Steve. Studio Gangster. New York: Gingko, 2007. Print. “This book is large selection of Barry McGee’s work. It helped me in developing an installation with various mediums.”

Peterson, Oliver. Message to the author. 11 Mar. 09. E-mail.“In this email Oliver and I discussed how to hang and paint the frames as well as the overall layout of my installation. Also, we briefly discussed themes.”

Powers, Steve. Studio Gangster. New York: Gingko, 2007. Print. “Steve Powers is an artist mostly concerned with text oriented work. Some of my drawings featured text that drove the piece. Mr. Powers’ book gave me insight into how words can create a clever and aesthetically pleasing piece”

Snow, Dash. End of Living, Begging of Survival. Walther Konig, 2008. Print.“The book The End of Living, The Begging of Survival was book that helped me learn the essentials of collage. My product turned out aesthetically similar; making the significance of a piece be more accessible.”

Templeton, Ed. Deformer. Damiani, 2008. Print.“Ed Templeton work is majorly a clash of multiple mediums. It exemplifies how adding a bit of a particular medium can make the work as a whole stand out and be more effective”

Community Member (Details)

My outside consultant was Oliver Peterson, an artist who lives and works in Springs.