Ross School - Senior Projects 2012
Mentor: Ned Smyth
Faculty Grader: Therese Lichtenstein
Documentation of Product
Title: 55511 (17)
55511 (17) is an art instillation based off of the ideas of the Dada movement, the later surrealist movement, and dreamscapes. Inspired by such artists as Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Salle, Gerhard Richter, and the Swiss painted Alberto Giacometti, for my Senior Project I created a unique and original body of work- a series of paintings, drawings, and stream of consciousness writings.
Details: images of gallery installation and drawings
Link to presentation powerpoint: POWERPOINT
Exhibition & Presentation Summary
555 11 is an art installation that includes my own original painting, drawing, and writing. All of the different ideas and images included within the installation are intended to be experienced in an interconnected way. Although the work is very personal, because it involved an exploration of myself through my own creativity, the installation as a whole is also meant to engage others whether that is on a purely aesthetic level or beyond.
The chart above was made to sort of break own the different elements of the project, because when I see the project as the whole I tend to break it down myself into different categories; the writing, painting, and drawings. Within those 3 categories I break it down further into different sub categories, the story and the phrases within the writing, the triptych and diptych within the painting, and the sketches and the finished pieces within the drawings.
Each part of the project carries an equal weight and significance to the finished installation. I look at everything as being, though it sounds contradictory, connected while being separate.
WRITINGS: I have been at Ross since sixth grade and I have had a lot of time to think about what my senior project would be. I always knew my senior project would be an art project because I’ve always had an interest in the arts, and I never thought that writing would be an aspect of it, but then last year in Shelby Raebeck’s English class I read the Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, and was assigned to write a one-page dream narrative in the same style as Kafka.
I have always enjoyed creative writing while not necessarily being very good at it. I have never felt comfortable as a writer, because I felt that my ideas were never fully there or my plotlines never developed enough, but for some reason this assignment was different. When I went to write the words seemed to just flow out from my fingers, and I remembered every little detail from this dream I had. In the end the story far surpassed both the one page requirement and my own expectations.
Since this was end of 11th grade, I was putting a lot of though into what my senior project would be and what it would include. Something about the story made me keep coming back to it, and in May when my class was asked to give in our proposals for senior project I knew I needed to include the story.
PHRASES: Included in my product (the book) are phrases I wrote inspired by the exquisite corpse technique invented by the surrealist’s artists and writers during the early 20th century. Though I wrote the phrases by myself, so I did not have the full exquisite corpse experience, I tried to make my writing free so I could take on the same bizarre sense that the exquisite corpse writings had.
(the exquisite corpse drawings or writings are essentially games with multiple people contributing their ideas. You take a piece of paper, fold it into several sections and then draw something or write a part of a phrase, you then conceal what you’ve put down on the page and then pass it on to the next person, who then does the same thing. Eventually, once everyone has contributed you unfold the piece of paper and have this insane piece of art or phrase.)
Here are the final phrases I included in my book:
“wipe the tears from your eyes, wipe the dust from your lips”
“love the dead, revive the living”
“rebels live with their backs to the mountain”
“doom us to the highest highway”
“they filled their nights with misgivings and their days with assurance”
PAINTINGS: Painting was very strange for me because just like writing, I had never really painted before the project. I had painted little pieces in art class but had never worked large and in depth paintings the way I did for this project. I normally draw and make tiny, so working large scale was my first really big challenge with painting. Another one of the challenges I had with painting was finding my subject matter. I had 5 canvases and I knew I wanted to somehow have elements from the story in the paintings while not necessarily having them be an illustration of the story.
I of broke the canvases up by size into a diptych and a triptych (a diptych is essentially just two pieces of art that are meant to go together and a triptych is the same but three pieces). I began painting in late September but during the summer I came up with a pattern, very Keith haring inspired, that I pretty much would draw on everything. My mentor Ned and I decided that even though the design did relate to the writing, it would be silly of me not to include it, because it was a really interesting pattern.
I now look at these two paintings as my introduction to painting, because looking back I don’t feel as if I was actually painting. I was working with paint as a medium rather than pen, but my painting didn’t really look any different than my drawings. It was too controlled. This changed when I started working on my triptych a few weeks later.
I was really scared to start painting the bigger canvases. I knew that it was silly because if you mess up with paint you can paint over it, but I had this crazy mental block and was so unsure of what I should paint.
I began by looking and researching different artists. I took a bunch of Christie’s auction books, brought them home, marked them up and then came up with this giant list of artists that I liked. I then broke that list down and I found four main artists of whom I feel I really took ideas and inspiration from for my paintings. Those artists are Jean Michel-Basquiat, Cy Twombly, Keith Haring, and Alberto Giacometti.
I began by laying out all of the canvases and then just layering paint on them. I made drips that I saw in some of Cy Twombly’s pieces for the backgrounds of all three pieces, but I feel like I took them a step further and layered them more. There was one idea I had of a man sitting in a chair, and so I painted that on the main canvas, the biggest one, and I looked at a bunch of Giacometti’s drawings for inspiration. I took a lot of inspiration from Basquiat’s work. He used very bold colors, much bolder than mine (because I used colors I felt captured the essence of the narrative I’d written), but his lines all had this really confident feel to them and I tried to emulate that.
I worked on the pieces for a few months, staying late at schools, changing them drastically, hating them, loving them, and then hating them again. Becoming comfortable with painting, and with myself as a painter. And then one day, towards the end of November, Ned came in to the studio for one of our weekly meetings and flipped one of my paintings upside down. This completely changed my perspective. Georg Baselitz, a German painter, does this. After he completes a piece he will then flip and then it’s done.
When Ned did this it was interesting, and I was uncomfortable, but I was really getting comfortable being uncomfortable, so I went along with it. I now feel that this is a really characterizing aspect of my paintings.
DRAWINGS: I worked on the drawings throughout the entire project, and from the many I created in this time, I chose 9 of the many drawings to be shown in the final gallery installation.
The sketches are the pieces with subject matter that isn’t completely abstract, but not complete. One of the pieces is just a few figures in pen, another a mixed-media composition with tracing paper and newsprint. These pieces were essentially sketches, some even being the notes I left for myself on tracing paper. They were really very simple, but I thought there was something beautiful about the simplicity
I look at the circular pieces I made, a take on the diptych, and I see a weird sort of hybrid between Keith haring, Aztec art, and mandalas. The square pieces are inspired by box art. I tried to take the idea of having something in a contained space, making a sort of claustrophobic drawing. I used the same artists as I did with the paintings for inspiration, and though the subject matter is clearly different than those of the paintings I think that they complement one another really well for both their difference as well as their similarities.
BOOK: My final installation in the gallery included 9 drawings, 5 paintings, and a book that I called details. Details came about because I needed vehicle of some sort to house my writing. The name details came about because I believe that the definition of the world explained exactly what that book was. The book is truly an extended treatment and attention to particular items of my project.
I used a program called blurb and was lucky because I found the program to be straight-forward and easy. I modeled Details after a zine- it included everything from my story and phrases, to photographs and scans of my finished paintings and even photographs of my paint. I really enjoyed making the book because it allowed me to step back from the pieces as individuals and see them collectively.
Conclusions & Background:
The name of my project, 555 11, was probably one of the last things I came up with- that is before hanging actual hanging of the installation. I used the name 555 11 because I honestly did not want the name of my project to be “untitled” and I thought that it was really reflective of myself- since I am 17 and because the project really was an exploration of myself and my own creative abilities. I chose to show the title in tally marks because I wanted the viewer to almost have to decode the title, by counting the different marks. In a way I wanted them to earn the knowledge of the title.
Even though framing my pieces and hanging the pieces in the gallery was challenging and time consuming, I don’t think of it as a major aspect of my because it was the least personal part of my project. The process of painting and writing was much more challenging because it was very personal and having other people read and see my work made me feel very vulnerable
I don’t really have words to explain the feeling of seeing my project completed and hung in the gallery. I feel that I completed all of my goals of making a cohesive series and I felt that my project was shown in a way that people could interact with it by either looking through the book and reading the story, or could interpret it for themselves by just taking a quick look at it. I’m really happy with the final product and the whole senior project that has enabled me to truly concentrate on one major body of interconnected work. I have a great sense of pride in what I have created thus far and am really looking forward to future projects of this nature.
Bibliography or Works Consulted
Baselitz, Georg, and Norman Rosenthal. Baselitz. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2007. Print.
Basquiat. Dir. Julian Schnabel. Perf. Jeffrey Wright. Miramax, 1996. DVD.
Buchhart, Dieter, Sam Keller, and John W. Gabriel. Basquiat. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2010. Print.
Giacometti, Alberto, Augusto Giacometti, Diego Giacometti, Giovanni Giacometti, and Ulf Küster. Giacometti. Ostfildern: Hatje/Cantz, 2009. Print.
Lichtenstein, Therese. “Senior Project Discussion.” The Ross School, East Hampton, New York. 2011. Lecture
Platow, Raphaela, Lucy Flint-Gohlke, and Keith Haring. Keith Haring, 1978-1982. Nürnberg, Germany: Verlag Für Moderne Kunst Nürnberg, 2010. Print.
Smyth, Ned. “Senior Project Discussion.” The Ross School, East Hampton, New York. 2011. Lecture
Twombly, Cy, Simon Schama, Julie Sylvester, and Roland Barthes. Cy Twombly: Fifty Years of Works on Paper. Munich: Schirmer/Mosel, 2004. Print.