Monday, March 31, 2014

My Written Thesis

The sculpture I describe in my thesis will be what I show in DAAP Works.  The opening is on April 22nd at 5:00 p.m.  Please come and support the Fine Arts class of 2014!

There comes a moment in every college students life when they have reach a moment where they can see the end result of all those years of education coming together and I have found that moment.  It is terrifying and exhilarating all at once.  I cannot express with words how difficult it is to put one's art down on paper.  It is truly one of the most personal difficult things an artist can do, like laying your naked heart out for everyone to view and judge.   But this is my art and this is who I am.  Enjoy. (Note: I apologize for any changes in font or weird spacing.  Transferring this from a word document to the blog was quite interesting.)

Two-dimensional Expressions in Three Dimensions
Makeup has been around for nearly 6,000 years with the Egyptians using lead ore as the first cosmetics (WebMD).  As the worlds view of beauty changed, the cosmetics changed with it.  For centuries, women have gone out of their way to achieve societal beauty, going to such extremes as leeches to gain a paleness of their skin.  In modern times, makeup is far from dangerous, however, with the advancement of medical technology makeup is no longer necessary to visually alter a person’s features.  Plastic surgeons can literally change facial features.  Makeup is the application of a medium to a three-dimensional subject, not just cosmetics to the face, to create a substantial visual change in what currently exists, to bring forth the extraordinary from the ordinary.
Makeup is a fascinating subject because people alter their facial and bodily features, three-dimensional surfaces, with two-dimensional substances to make them look different, sometimes to the point where they become unrecognizable.  For instance, adding a dark pigment halfway down the cheek in a horizontal curve can sharpen the cheekbones and make the person appear thinner.  The face is the most prominent part of the human body used for identification.  Thomas Morawetz examines the significance of faces in his book, Making Faces, Playing God: Identity and the Art of Transformational Makeup,
“Faces matter insofar as they are natural, not artificial.  Identifying persons and holding them responsible for what they do depends on the fact that they have one and only one unique and natural face for life.” (Morawetz, 4)                                                  
People rely heavily on faces for recognition—one rarely looks to someone’s hand or feet to figure out who they are; it is the face that assures identity and helps gain individuality.  The world would function very differently if every male looked identical, as did every female.  It is natural for the human race to accept identification through visual information.  A study at MIT concluded that people take notice of a person before visually processing the features they see and are able to identify the individual; which is why people confuse other people’s identities at a glance—they did not have enough time to visually process who they were seeing (Grill-Spector/Kanwisher, 159).  However, small changes to the face such as a piercing do not create a lasting visual confusion to the observer.
“And our powers of recognition go beyond our powers of imaginative recall.  We know that we can recognize Jones even if we not sure he still has his mustache and still wears glasses.” (Morawetz, 4)
In other words, small changes to the face can occur, such as the loss of facial hair, and people can still be recognized.  Often, makeup applications do not alter a person’s looks so much that they are unidentifiable, but the power to do so exists.
Makeup is a temporary alteration to appearance that can be easily removed and therefore does not cause a lasting change to one’s identity. Plastic surgery, however, is a permanent, physical change to a person’s appearance and therefore, by its very nature, a change to a person’s identity. (Or in the case of gender reassignment or transition, a way for a person to express their true, internal identity in a physical manifestation.)  Contemporary artist Orlan uses herself as her medium for Carnal Art, the act of getting surgeries completed to modify her body to create a dialogue about the standards of beauty towards women (Orlan’s Surgeries). 
“From 1990 to 1995, she underwent nine plastic surgery operations, intending to rewrite western art on her own body. One operation altered her mouth to imitate that of Fran├žois Boucher's Europa, another changed her forehead to mimic the protruding brow of Leonardo's Mona Lisa, while yet another altered her chin to look like that of Botticelli's Venus.” (Stuart Jefferies, 2009)
The act of her art is so unnerving because she is capable of altering her features beyond ‘normal’ visual identification, threatening what society finds familiar and safe.  She no longer looks like the majority of the world’s population and her face is literally unnatural.  The intense commitment this artist has to her purpose is astounding, and to many it is also ludicrous.  Jane Addams Allen wrote about Michelangelo’s Last Judgement once being considered “the great progenitor of “offensive” works of art” in “The sacred and the profane: A continuing story in western art”. (Page 18)  Michelangelo’s Last Judgement was controversial before it was even unveiled and was considered by a critic from 1545 that the masterpiece was too obscene for a church and belonged where a comedy would be performed (Allen, 18).  Orlan is always conscious during her surgeries, has music playing in the background, and wears costumes during the live broadcasts (Orlan’s Surgeries).  The process of the surgery itself is unnatural since surgeries are typically carried out in silence with a patient who is unconscious, and is dressed in a hospital gown.  Her main goal is to change what people see as beautiful and believes so strongly in her purpose she is willing to permanently lose the appearance she was born with (see Figure 1). Michelangelo was never considered a master during his lifetime and it is possible that Orlan will never be seen as beautiful or normal in her lifetime.  Makeup gives me the ability to transform myself into whomever I want to look like for a brief moment in time without a serious lifetime commitment.  There is a freedom with makeup that plastic surgery does not permit and that is the flexibility to change one’s mind about whom he or she want to be. Self-image is very important and makeup empowers its wearer to feel how they look on the outside.
Contemporary photographer Cindy Sherman creates work that is far less unnerving than Orlan’s to viewers because her transformations are not permanent.  Using her face and body as her canvas, Sherman creates the illusion that she is someone else entirely.  To build upon the visual illusion, Sherman chooses the backdrop, articles of clothing, and accessories to support the makeup application and the overall transformation she goes through.  Sherman proves that a narrative is necessary to create a successful illusion.  In her untitled series Society Portraits, she dresses herself up in clothes, uses props, and applied makeup to represent the women of California such as the Divorcee and the Personal Trainer and is so successful to the point that her audience at a gallery could not recognize her (see Figure 2).  Not only does she transform herself physically but she also acts the part with a pose and a fitting facial expression for whom she is portraying.  This series is significant because the women she portrays in her work are often exemplified in her audience at the gallery.  Sherman is commenting on the roles her subjects play in society and the obstacles they face with just a glimpse into their lives with just one portrait.  When I look at this series, I feel a wonderment that one woman can represent so many other women and lose herself in each image. 
Sherman and Orlan are not the only female artists to use their body as a vessel for her art.  In an art review about Cindy Sherman’s work over the years, Leah Ollman gives examples of other female artists, specifically during the mid-70s, whose art shared the manipulation of their appearance in their art,
“Eleanor Antin had charted her weight loss in a photogrid and began to assume alternate identities on both ends of the gender spectrum — king and ballerina. Suzy Lake photographed herself applying masks of makeup to impersonate her friends. Lynn Hershman adopted an alter ego, Roberta Breitmore, who carried on an alternate life in the real world. Martha Wilson made videos transforming her face into what she said represented her best hopes and her worst fears and also created a composite character together with Jacki Apple.” (Ollamn, 1)
To build upon what has already been archived in contemporary art for makeup and using visual transformations, I wish to contribute by going a step further and use makeup techniques with a medium that will act as makeup on a three dimensional subject that represents the human figure.  Makeup artists use colored pigments, shading and perspective to be deceptive with their work.  Each face is a sculpture of it’s own creation.  The skin is a malleable entity that adapts to weight gained and lost, exposure to weather conditions, and shows the tracks of age over time.  Through the exploration of the medium of makeup, when added to the skin, I have discovered that it shares the same qualities of fine art mediums such as oil and chalk pastels when applied to paper.  The steps when applying makeup to the face are reminiscent of using oil paints on a canvas.  First you begin with a base coat, or foundation, and then continue with layers of paint or makeup until you have built up a finished product.  Makeup artist Valeria Kutsan recreates works of art with makeup (see Figure 3), 
Rather than using oil and canvas, Valeriya Kutsan recreated iconic works by top artists Leonardo da Vinci, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Piet Mondrian with face paint and make-up.  Through the clever use of bold colours and outlines, her creations appear to be two-dimensional.” (Alex Ward) 
My body of work is the exploration of taking what would be applied to the face and using makeup on surfaces such as paper.  Advancing my investigation has led me to using colored pigments that could read as makeup on sculptures.  The makeup as the medium plays a role in various degrees whether it is accompanying a larger sculpture or is the only element on paper. 
In February of 2013, I was presented with the opportunity to design a character for a local high school production of the operetta The Pirates of Penzance (see Figure 4).  After the life changing experience I made the decision to pursue a career in theatre makeup and simultaneously my art began to reflect my career choice.  To begin my artistic journey with makeup I focused on becoming a makeup artist and applying the medium to a model of my choosing.  For a film photography class I photographed models with makeup that I had designed.  But I felt that I could use makeup for more than what it was intended for.  I was looking to connect visual art and theatre by using art materials in place of makeup in a headshot.  Experimentations began with the Clay Reacts series (see Figure 5), a photography based project of five images of a female with clay on her face in place of makeup.  To further engage in proper research and education about makeup, I signed up for the spring semester of Intro to Costuming and Makeup at the College Conservatory of Music.  This course covers stage makeup techniques and styles using Ben Nye company makeup, basic costuming for a character in a performance and visual research portfolio methods.  I became the model and the makeup artist for this class since we are required to apply the style of makeup we learn to ourselves since we know our own faces best.  Theater makeup styles covered in this class include corrective male and female makeup, age makeup, anger makeup, sad makeup, and round face makeup.  This led to a better understanding of a makeup artist being like a portrait painter—finding the highlights and shadows, bending them to the artist’s will to achieve the desired illusion.  I began to view makeup as more than something that can be used on the human face, since it shares the same qualities as other art media.  I asked myself, “why not use makeup as I would any other art material on a piece of paper?”  Thus, I borrowed a technique from printmaking and soaked Lenox paper in water and then pressed it to my face to absorb the makeup I had applied there.  The transfer was successful and the paper held an imprint of my face.  This led to thoughts of using makeup on objects, in sketchbooks, on canvas, and beyond to more abstract options. 
I found myself unable to dislodge the connection between faces and makeup; I wanted to push the boundaries of the human face and still keep makeup in close relation.  Orlan served as a strong source inspiration as did other individuals such as the ‘human Barbie’ Valeria Lukyanova who go to such extreme lengths to alter their physical appearance beyond the means of makeup (see Figure 6).  Wanting to push the physical boundaries of the human form through sculpture I developed the concept of the human merged with an animal’s bone structure.  This goes beyond the plastic surgery of Orlan as it combines the skeleton of another species with that of a human.  The focus of the piece is to show alterations to the human face and show the impermanence of what should be familiar, which is now foreign.  People should be made aware of how adaptable the human figure truly is whether it is temporary or permanent.  There is a lot that can be taken from a person—jobs, loved ones, homes, and money, even freedom.  The way a person looks, the way they were born, should not be taken away from them without their consent.  Women typically are the most targeted in digital alterations of the body.
“Essentially, “the feminine ideal is tanned, healthy slenderness, with no unsightly bumps, bulges or cellulite, and bodily and facial perfection that results from hours of labor: exercise, makeup and hair care” (Coward, 1985) – and 30 years later, plastic surgery and Photoshop. This unrealistic form is consistently represented across almost all media forms, along with blemish-free, wrinkle-free, and even pore-free skin, thanks to the wonders of digital manipulation as an “industry standard” that is openly endorsed and defended by magazine editors and media makers the world over.” (Beauty Redefined Blog) 
Technology has advanced to the point that identity and privacy have become threatened.  It is now impossible to trust an image in the media because everything is airbrushed and Photoshopped.  Performing artist Lady Gaga is the embodiment of temporary alterations to the human body.  Gaga wears multiple outlandish wigs, costumes and makeup in each of her music videos, performances and public appearances.   She has done everything from adopt a male alter ego, Jo Calderone, and performing as him to wearing a dress made out of raw meat.  Sometimes she wears prosthetics to enhance and alter her features temporarily such as triangular cheekbones or horns (see Figure 7).  I consider Lady Gaga to be one of the greatest artists of our generation because she uses performance art to take her music to the next level and every look she wears has meaning and purpose to her.  Gaga is proof that alterations to a person’s appearance can impact and be temporary.
For the sculpture that would combine both makeup and physical alterations, I started with carving a bird skull so that it would match the size of a human skull out of wax and cast it in bronze.  I took partial molds from a male model and sculpted a life size male bust in wax with the bronze bird skull implanted in the face and cast that in aluminum.  Both metals can be brought to a bright shine by buffing out the surface.  This allowed myself the opportunity to create and accentuate the highlights and shadows of my choosing by using patinas, a chemical compound used to color bronze, aluminum, copper, etc. on the metal as “makeup.”  Makeup does not necessarily have to be pigments safe for the human face; a painter uses paint when painting the makeup on a clown, not actual makeup.  By using colors to create depth, highlights and shadows on the piece, the patinas will act as makeup would and I will contour the face and the avian features this way.  My goal is to use what I have learned about makeup for the face and apply it to the sculpture of a human but not use actual makeup.  I will use the other medium that will act similarly to makeup to see if I can achieve the same effects that I would with a real person using actual makeup.  Ultimately, I will be using not be using makeup but employing makeup techniques with a medium on a sculpture of a human that has been disfigured and is not considered ‘normal.’  I have thus created artistic plastic surgery to mutate into the ideal sculpture of the human form.  Additionally I will be using another medium besides makeup to serve the same purpose.
Makeup is a large part of present day society in the United States.  In every day life for many women and some men, it is a daily ritual.  The theatre industry, the fashion industry and the movie industry all rely heavily on makeup’s transformative qualities—so much so they give out prestigious awards for its application.  Makeup has been used for thousands of years. For the majority of that time frame, it was dangerous to use the various pigments and techniques that were used to achieve certain beauty standards.  Dr. Aimee Marcereau DeGala’a dissertation entitled “Dangerous Beauty: Painted Canvases and Painted Faces in Eighteenth-Century Britain,” found that 200 years ago, the makeup the women wore and the paint the artists used for painting these women were both deadly.  In an interview DeGalan points out, “Both substances contained lead and mercury.” Women knew their “pursuit of beauty” was potentially fatal, she adds, and yet “they continued it with abandon.” (Pamela Polston)
“The make-up they used caused the eyes to swell and become inflamed, attacked the enamel on the teeth and changed the texture of the skin causing it to blacken, it was also not uncommon to suffer baldness, and for a time it became fashionable to shave the front hairline. It was known that heavy use of lead could cause death.” (Emma Chambers)
Today, the most common side effects of using certain cosmetics are rashes, change in skin texture, clogged pores, and acne (  I was unaware of these facts about cosmetics when I constructed my sculpture out of aluminum and bronze.  However, I knew from the beginning that the patinas I would use for makeup on the sculpture are dangerous and impossible to be used on humans.  This was not an intentional decision on my part, it just so happens that my choices of medium reflect and exemplify the unsafe past of makeup.
Women, and some men, go out of their way to change their appearance to the extreme in the forms of sex changes, eating disorders, drag, plastic surgery and use makeup to achieve the final look, hide the circles under their eyes, add color to their cheeks, or hide the scars from their physical alterations.  Makeup is the accompanying factor to finish the puzzle, not the main piece.  Tutorials flood the Internet of how to do makeup to get that flawless contour look, how to use bronzer to look tan, how to use tissue to look like a wound so as to resemble a zombie, etc.  Convenience stores, grocery stores, online shopping websites, and mall makeup counters create easy access to makeup for the ‘natural look’ all the way to highly saturated pigment makeup created to last for hours at a time.  All of makeup is used to either cover up what already exists or enhance it.  At the moment, for the majority of the world, what already exists is generally considered normal.  However, with technology’s constant advancement, it is likely that someone will attempt to alter his or her bone structure with more than just the help of makeup.
            For the past ten years, I have developed my makeup skills through the personal application of trial and error.  Until just over a year ago, makeup had been a very private experience.  I have always found the medium to be empowering when used correctly and often received positive responses from others.  When I was younger, my makeup was very subtle and repetitive; I wore only green or purple eye shadow for the first three years.  Gradually more colors were added to my repertoire and it became necessary to purchase a piece of furniture dedicated solely to storing my makeup and supplies.  The ritual of applying makeup is deeply personal because I want my exterior to reflect how I feel inside.  
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.  (1 Peter 3:3-4)
I have always wished to be more than what I am and makeup is the instrument that makes me feel powerful.  My confidence abounds when my makeup is brightly colorful and flawless because I become more than who I am underneath.  My personality becomes visible on the surface of my skin as my makeup often reflects my mood before it compliments my outfit.  This process has improved both my skills as a fine artist and a makeup artist, the similarities between makeup application and drawing/painting the face are far greater than I had ever believed.  Most importantly, makeup, like art, is an outward expression of the inner being.
            Gene Simmons was once quoted, “The makeup is simply an extension of the personality and colors, clothing, makeup all express something.” (Confessions of a Doll)  Makeup is a beautiful medium; the material gifts people with the chance to look different, to be someone else for a brief moment in time, allowing for individuality and self-expression.  Over the past century, the art world has expanded its horizons and has no limits—plastic surgery is now a performance art.  Applying makeup is a daily ritual for myself and art gave me the avenue to push my understanding of what makeup means to the world and me.  The word makeup broken down is simply “make up.”  When this word was created, was the meaning to make up for something that was not there?  Or was the definition meant to make people believe what they see is there and that it truly exists?  I believe makeup is more of a verb than a noun; it is the act of applying a medium on a three-dimensional subject to alter the appearance.  Therefore, makeup is not required to be cosmetics, the medium used is required to visually alter the three-dimensional subjects appearance.  I believe that makeup is highly powerful for anyone who uses it.  In the dichotomy of an individual being who they are versus being who they want to be makeup is the element that makes that possible. 

Figure 1
Fourth surgery

Figure 2
Cindy Sherman
Self Portrait
Figure 2
Cindy Sherman
 The Divorcee, Society Portraits

Figure 3
Valeria Kutsan

Figure 4
Pirates of Penzance
The Pirate King before and after

Figure 5
Clay Reacts iv
Digital Print

Figure 6
Ukrainian model, Valeria Lukyanova
The human Barbie

Figure 7
Lady Gaga


"1 Peter." ESV: Study Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2007. 3. Print.

Allen, Jane Addams. The Sacred and the Profane: A Continuing Story in Western Art. N.p.: New Art Examiner, n.d. Print. Summer 1990.

"Beauty Redefined Blog." BEAUTY REDEFINED. Kite Media, 12 Mar. 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.

Chambers, Emma. "Object Retrieval." Makeup and Lead Poisoning in the 18th Century. UCL Ligatus, 2005. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.

Grill-Spector, Kalanit, and Nancy Kanwisher. "Visual Recognition: As Soon As You Know It Is There, You Know What It Is." Psychological Science 16.2 (2005): 152-60. American Psychological Society. Web

"History of Makeup." WebMD. Ed. Michael J. Wheatley, MD. WebMD, 12 June 2012. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.

Jeffries, Stuart. "Orlan's Art of Sex and Surgery." Guardian News and Media, 01 July 2009. Web. 19 Mar. 2014

"Makeup Quotes." CONFESSIONS OF A DOLL: In a World of All Things Haute. Blogger, 3 Aug. 2009. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.

Moran, Lee. "'Human Barbie' Strives to Become Breatharian Who Lives off Light and Air ." NY Daily News., 2 Mar. 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.

Morawetz, Thomas. "The Art of Transformation." Making Faces, Playing God: Identity and the
Art of Transformational Makeup. Austin: University of Texas, 2001. 4-26. Print.

Ollman, Leah. "Art Review: Cindy Sherman's Many Faces." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 01 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.

Pescarmona, Denee, comp. Orlan's Surgeries. Orlan's Surgeries. N.p., 2003. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.

Polston, Pamela. "The Fleming Museum Finds a New Curator at Last ." Seven Days. Da Capo Publishing Inc, 21 May 2008. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.

Ward, Alex. "2D or Not 2D, That Is the Question! Incredible Make-up Turns Models into Paintings and Drawings." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 29 Nov. 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2014

"What Are the Effects of Makeup on the Skin?" LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 12 Mar. 2014. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Foundry Returns!

I am pleased to report that I am taking Foundry for the third time in my undergrad career!  Taught once again by the adorable Farron Allen!  I am so in love with this class and I cannot contain my excitement for the pieces I am working on.  I feel like the past two classes projects I made have been preparation for this final semester and will bring my best work forth!
Wax bird skull
(in progress)

My pieces are built off of my thesis of illusions of the human figure.  A male and a female bust made of aluminum with part of their faces "torn away" to show a bird skull (male) and a deer skull (female) made of bronze.  I plan to use patinas in the natural shadows of the figures and to buff and polish the metals in the natural highlights.

Wax bird skull venting system
Prep for investment
Up to this point, I have the bronze skulls and am working on the wax parts for the aluminum pour.  I have never done a project with both metals before.  Due to aluminum being at a lower melting point then bronze, it is possible to pour aluminum on top of bronze, thus creating a two metaled work of art.  I observed a friend do this my sophomore year with some of this pieces.  I chose to make the skin of the figures out of aluminum because it is less expensive and is a lighter material.  Overall, both of these pieces will be rather heavy due to the size and the bronze that will be encased inside (each of the skulls weigh about 8 lbs currently).
Wax deer skull venting system
Prep for investment
I was very pleased with how successful my pieces turn out because if the skulls didn't come through then my whole project would be scrapped.  Fortunately, after a very messy class of breaking open the molds, I was able to see my hard work come to fruition.  I swear, on the day we open our molds after the aluminum pour, I am going to be like a parent watching their kid drive for the first time... a total nervous wreck.  
I don't know if you can tell from this photo, but my eyelashes were white with investment dust.  Every time I moved, white particles would fall off of me like snow. 

Cleaned up (some) and ready to be installed in some wax!
The wax busts look pretty awful at the moment so that is why there are no pictures of my progress.  But since the next pour process begins this coming Tuesday, the wait won't be long.  This is a true test of my skills as an artist and craftswoman in foundry.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thesis Rough Draft

Below is a very rough, rough draft of my thesis for my senior year at DAAP.  I am struggling with how  to successfully write about my art but I have faith that I will be able to pull through in the next month.

Suspend Your Disbelief
My art is about illusions.  My work is about visually lying to my audience and confusing them. I work with a goal of trickery and deceit to convince everyone that what I bring before them actually exists.  Over the past year, I have merged my love and passion for theatre and fine art on the canvas that is the human face.  With layers of makeup, I enhance and add lines, angles, shapes, and color to altar the human face to achieve my desired goal.  I transform the individual that plays the vital role of my canvas and transform them into another being entirely, sometimes making them unrecognizable to their friends and loved ones.  The illusion is a physical metamorphosis of the face for others to suspend their disbelief and perceive that what is false is actually true.
My artwork focuses on the face because this is the most prominent part of the human body that humans use for identification.  Thomas Morawetz examines the significance of faces in his work, “Making Faces, Playing God,”
“Faces matter insofar as they are natural, not artificial.  Identifying persons and holding them responsible for what they do depends on the face that they have one and only one unique and natural face for life.” (Morawetz, 4)
People rely on faces for recognition.  One does not look to someone’s hand to figure out who they are; it is the face that is supposed to assure who a person is.  It is natural for the human race to accept identification through visual information.  However, small changes to the face or personal interaction with someone can still identify who they are without much illusion.
“And our powers of recognition go beyond our powers of imaginative recall.  We know that we can recognize Jones even if we not sure he still has his mustache and still wears glasses.” (Morawetz, 4)

By documenting my art in photographs, I create a barrier, making it more difficult for my canvas to be identified by limiting my audience’s interactions.  When people realize how easily their identity can be morphed or compromised, it becomes unsettling.             
The art world likes to draw neat little boxes and keep all of the creative individuals in their own little sections with very little blending.  My art is a combination of the performing arts and fine art.  Makeup artists present their skill for television and the stage but rarely ever the galleries.  Through fine arts I have taken courses that studied the human face.  Both areas require a deep comprehension of the human face, each just requires different techniques to render the correct depiction. A large number of the artists use Photoshop to altar the face and create an illusion.  I stand apart from these artists and bring something different to the table by using strictly real world materials such as makeup and props in my artwork.  The human face is a very popular subject for artists and has been for centuries, but it is rare that the face itself is used as the canvas.
            My art is a composition that heavily transforms an individual’s face.  The process to reach the final result includes inspiration, research, and trial and error.  Makeup makes sense to me.  I understand how the human face is built.  I appreciate every individual persons flaws and features because that is what makes them uniquely identifiable.  When I begin a project, I choose a model based on the needs of the end result.  For example, I will not choose someone who is overweight or has a round face if my end goal is a dying cancer patient.  However, I have presented myself with the challenge of transforming only one individual’s face in a variety of results and forcing my audience to accept that same individual as different people more than once.  This will require the ultimate illusion with no room for error.
            When I began my illusion-based art, I started out with characters from the stage that required drastic transformations.  My first experience of character transformation was the Pirate King from the operetta The Pirates of Penzance.  I gave the character a Jonny Depp quality due to the recent pirate character he played in Disney’s The Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  The transformation for the Pirate King required a wig, a change of skin tone using bronzer and lots of mascara and eyeliner to achieve the full illusion (see Before and After Pirate King, figure 1).
The experience of my art can happen multiple ways.  The audience can view my work in the process, forcing it to be performance art, or it can be documented in photographs or video.  This altars the way my audience perceives my work as the experience will define their understanding.  I am more interested in my audience seeing the end result of my art, the ultimate illusion.  Otherwise, my whole purpose is lost; a person is less likely to believe the person/piece of art I put before them actually exists. By placing a photograph of my art in the gallery, people would take their time before the work and have the comfort of allowing themselves to get up close to examine it further whereas a live model in full makeup is likely to make audience members uncomfortable and they would not take in the full illusion.  My intention is give my audience a moment of wonderment, as they can comprehend the illusions I place before them, not to feel intimidated. 
            Through using herself as the vessel for her art, contemporary artist, Cindy Sherman creates work that is a reflection of her audience.  Using her face and body as her canvas, Sherman creates the illusion that she is someone else entirely to the point that her audience at a gallery cannot recognize her.  To build upon the visual illusion, Sherman chooses the backdrop, articles of clothing and accessories to support the makeup and transformation she goes through.  Sherman proves that a narrative is necessary to create a successful illusion. 
            To further my research and in order to produce a higher quality of makeup-enhanced illusions, I have been enrolled in a makeup class at the College Conservatory of Music.  In this I have learned makeup for basic bone structure as well as male and female corrective makeup.  In the future I will learn age makeup, gender swap makeup and fat makeup. 
            Throughout this process I have discovered how much every single detail matters when composing a piece of art, especially one that is to be preserved in photography.  Not only am I responsible for the makeup transformation but the quality and composition of the photograph that captures and documents the illusion.
            I have concluded, based upon this experience, that I am no where near finished and I still have much to learn/do.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Because I Felt Like It...

Today, after dealing with a high level of stress due to choices about the future, applying to grad schools, keeping up with school, working, and being social I had no patience for conceptual art.  I went to my studio to work on a sculpture that I am currently struggling with and felt numb.  I often get so worried about the reasoning behind my work that I forget about what I'm making and why I'm making it in the first place.  But today was an inspiring day; I went to a show at the 840 Gallery at DAAP, visited the painting studios at DAAP and had positive conversations about art with my peers. In the end, I came up with a fantastic idea for a photo shoot that will occur next Tuesday evening. AND! Once I returned to my studio, I grabbed a piece of wood from the discard pile, made some plaster and made art JUST BECAUSE I FELT LIKE IT. There was no message, concept or connection to an audience that I was aiming for.... just making art for art's sake. For my sake. I cannot express how lifeless I would feel if I could not make something on a regular basis. The piece is not done and there is no title but I know that the next step will be to add color.  

In Progress

In Progress (close up)

My friends and I call this process plaster painting.  I mixed thick plaster and painted it on plywood with my hand.  As it hardened, I was able to sculpt the plaster more to a better shape.  My sculptures, except my foundry work, typically lacks color.  I hope to see where my inspiration takes me and if I can successfully color this impressionistic piece.  All of this was completed on a spur of the moment "grab-random-materials-and-make-something-awesome" feeling and in less than an hour.  This is why I love art. Anything is possible.

Special thanks and shout outs to Max, Sarah, Andi, Mamie, Farron and Abby!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thesis Proposal

I have struggled greatly over the past semester to nail down my thesis.  I believe that this has been so challenging because I want to make art about a large plethora of topics, not just one.  However, I just may hove found the one topic that I can grow and build upon for the remainder of the year while remaining true to my passions and interests. I present to you, my thesis proposal.

Through extensive studies of the human figure and facial structure, I have developed a strong interest in using the face and body as a canvas and tool for interpretation and suggestion. As a sculptor, I use mediums such as plaster, clay and metal to add to the repertoire of the human figure in the art world.  Since my interest in makeup escalated and my plans to pursue a career as a makeup artist, my attention has turned to the character that can be brought forth from the human figure with the use of visual allusions created by makeup.  I want to bring my audience into a narrative that they can relate to in some way but still be removed at the same time.  As human beings, we emote and force the understanding of our own personality traits and features onto fictional beings in the simplest desire of creating something new but still familiar.  As a sculptor, I want to take fabricated characters from the imaginations of others and myself, bring them into existence and put them before an audience, forcing them to come face to face with a being that is foreign yet known. 
I have researched ancient mythology, current fantasy novels and contemporary artists that focus on narratives in their art.  Throughout history, people have imagined creatures that combine features of a human being with animals or other fictitious beings to create an entirely new creature.  The number and variety of these beings fascinate me; Examples include the sphinx, the centaur, angels, and the satyr, to name a few.  Fictional characters with mixed human qualities have existed since ancient times, often in myths or have served as deities.  The Egyptians worshiped multiple gods that were depicted as humans morphed with animals.  As a culture, we even personify objects to have human characteristics.  Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
is the greatest example of lifeless objects being given a face with a personality and the freedom to move about as humans do. 
To prepare for the projects that will be born from this concept, I have been experimenting with various mediums and tools.  Each character will be life size; therefore, I must consider the weight of the materials I use.  I plan to use materials in unconventional ways, such as hollow plaster.  This is a process I have already used for my sculpture Lay In My Body.  I am currently invested in using wax and plaster dipped paper cranes.  These cranes will be adhered to one another to form the body of a creature conjured from my own imagination based on a character that represents war in the Wicked Lovely book series written by Melissa Marr.  This creature will have an altered human body with a concave torso, a beak and will consist of nine hundred and ninety-nine paper cranes.  In the hollow of her torso, will rest the skeleton of a baby bird.  For now, I am titling this piece as Aves, which is the scientific word for bird.  Aves will rest on a bed made to look like the bed of a person but will be made up of materials that could be found in a birds nest.  I believe that creating an environment for Aves to exist in will help build the narrative and invite my audience in.  An artist that I found inspiration from for my current sculpture project is American sculptor Petah Coyne.  Coyne uses taxidermy birds and wax among other materials in her sculptures.  I coincidentally discovered her work after I began designing Aves.
I believe that people have invented these imaginary beings to be symbolic in nature.  For example, Marr’s character that represents war is a woman with a face that is combined with a raven’s, the bird that symbolizes ill omens or death.  I want Aves and the other characters that I create to be symbolic in nature.  My goal is for the audience to see the narrative and interpret the 
metaphors and morals within, much like Greek mythology where each myth contains at least one principle that was significant to their culture. 
To be true to my original focus of the human figure, I will ensure that each character’s human traits are very present in their make up.  This is my attempt at merging theater with fine art, by setting the stage and building a character with the main goal of telling a story.  I understand that my focus has shifted from the fragility of human life, as I stated in my fall research statement.  However, I still maintain that the basic subject will remain the human figure as I had originally intended for my senior thesis.