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Throughout my life I have been repeatedly drawn to working with the concept of cultural exchange and blending across the world and in my personal life. I approached this idea in my artistic endeavors through the imagery and usage of functional ware. Designing functional ware concentrates on the process of people coming together comfortably during a meal and sharing their time with those around them. I also incorporated texture and the pleasant aesthetic of fabric to diversify my work and complement the thrown forms.
I look towards artists Jessica Brandl, Molly Hatch, Heesoo Lee, and Justin Rothshank for inspiration while focusing on texture, presentation, painting, and decals respectively. In my work I slip dip cotton fabric and drape it across my vessels to represent the comfort that comes from soft cloth. This comfort is meant to parallel the comfort one feels when around family and loved ones, or knowing your ancestry. In one of my compilations, I utilized my oil painting knowledge by manipulating thick layers of under-glaze to create references to fanciful tales and idioms that began in one country or another. These selected references have since spread around the globe and are widely known as teaching tools that influence the children of today. After a clear coat of glaze, I added detailed line work with iron-toner decals. These drawings of flowers and birds emphasize the paintings because they also refer to a certain area of the world. However, these blossoms can similarly be found across most continents of the world, reminding us how connected we are.
While composing these works I led myself on a journey of personal reflection that segued into my collection of plates that coalesced into an ambiguous self-portrait. This reflection is marked by my chosen stories, primarily those that stemmed from Poland, the Dominican Republic, and America. I depicted these personal homelands in a more playful way to represent the true experience of a multi-cultural child, or someone who cannot fit him or herself into just one identity. Having dealt with this reality in my life, I wish to bring to light how a person balances more than one historical community and naturally finds their overlapping areas. I also wish to show how bringing one’s unique stories to the table can be benevolently accepted.
To lead others into this conversation, I also created an elongated table with vessels glazed white like primed canvas. These conceptually blank pieces are meant to inspire those that approach the table; they are surfaces on which the audience can impart their own cultural stories. With my table setting and video installation I wish to highlight the natural exchange of ideas that comes from meeting over a meal. In these instances, people are often surrounded by opportunities to learn from those around them. I broadened this notion by literally depicting the process with a tranquil video installation of arranging a setting and gathering around the table. Furthermore, I emphasized this experience by creating a hand-built table that sits at 10’ by 26’’, thinner and longer than average. The size brings people on either side closer together and accommodates ten to twelve individuals, a significant number of guests. During meals, we converse and taste food, two venues through which people can exchange history fluidly from one side of the table to the other. I hope that the audience gains a feeling of comfort and acceptance among the warm wood grain, relaxed video format, and spacious table setting.
These ideas are particularly relevant in contemporary society because of the current climate of renewed fear towards immigrants. With refugees flooding into first world countries throughout the globe has come a startling sense of xenophobia. I wish to bring about a discussion that puts a positive light on cultural blending. As a product of diverse nations, I have an urge to share my experience. These stances come to fruition as my amalgamated images flow together, just as life in an ethnically mixed home flows forward without consideration for the novelty of its existence. Each installation can stand alone, but together they compliment each other and tell a story of fond recollections and partnership.
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