Human memories are fluid, they flow through our minds much like water flows down rivers to reach lakes and oceans only to evaporate and start the journey over again as rain fall. Memories pour into human brains and some stay to be recounted, or poured back out, while others leak away over time never to be recovered.
Memory has often been fickle in nature for me. I have many fond memories, yet, they tend to dissipate away over time and it is the details of negative recollections that stick with me most vividly. The inspiration for my tea set draws on this fickleness and the importance of holding onto my best memories. In the functional teapot memories are steeped and stored ready to be poured back out while both cups are riddled with openings where memories seep away.
The idea behind this project was to pick a weaving from a different tradition or culture and respond to it in my own way. I chose an Ikat style weaving from the island of Bhali in Indonesia. Pattern in this type of weaving is made by tying knots to form symbols on the warp fibers prior to dyeing which leaves a white resist when the ties are removed. This white area can then be over-dyed with another color as is the case in this piece and shows up in the final weaving.
In the original piece, the half-circles and two layers of dye that form the white and orange parts of the pattern intrigued me and inspired me to re-envision the design and create my own version while experimenting with new dyeing techniques. In weaving my piece, I pulled many of my favorite parts from the original weaving and added my own take on the design. My goal was to stay true to the symbols in the weaving while finding a way to frame the intricate tied pattern with plain stripes and bring in new visual elements of color variation. I also chose to work with silk as my fiber in place of the cotton used in the original which gives my weaving a subtle shine and extraordinary soft feel.
My concept for this piece centers around the relationship between my body and the food I consume. Much of my work is inspired by my time spent in nature, from the untouched expanses of the northern tundra to the mathematical golden spiral visible in sea shells and plants or the vegetables in my backyard garden.
The prompt for this project was “extended body” and my design focuses on the intricate, dynamic exchange between growing and eating food and bodily health. Food has always been central to my existence from growing up with two health-conscious doctors as parents, being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of six, and developing food allergies to both gluten and eggs. With the direct impact food has on my physical being, it is in essence an extension of my body.
My piece strives to convey this idea. The casting of my lips and mouth is curved upward in a contented smile while the four center panels represent the esophagus leading to a stomach which holds food to nourish my body. In the necklace and panels the coloration also symbolizes growing food. The black of the cord signifies soil, the first panel shows sprouts pushing through the soil, the next panel represents plants flourishing, the bright mosaic of the third panel is the harvest of produce, and finally the last panel illustrates plants returning to the soil to fertilize future growth. Food and body are separate. Food and body are one.
With one final emphatic gesture I punch the period key, the last punctuation mark of my essay, and the clickity-clack of fingers on my keyboard halts. I satisfied smile crosses my face as I submit my Strategic Design Analysis paper, an assignment for one of my business classes. Finished writing, I grab my backpack and head to the weaving studio to continue working on the Ikat-style blanket I’m weaving. I toss a CD into the studio boom box and lose myself in my work.
I’m in my second year of higher education attending Earlham College in Indiana (after transferring in the fall of 2013) where I’m majoring in Business and Nonprofit Management. The only reason I’m not doubling majoring in studio art is the fact that I no longer have enough credits left to fit in two degrees before I graduate. Instead, I fill every elective course I have with art. My course load is filled with management and art classes. This spring semester I’ll be busy with two upper-level management courses and two studio art courses: advanced weaving and advanced metal working. Studying business fulfills my practical, logical side and creating art is what makes me thrive.