Portraits & Possessions

So Rachel tried something new! (Freshly back from college… experimenting with… what’s that? A tripod?

Rachel’s in a photograph she took? Yep. I got ideas floating through my head now. Conceptual stuff. Probably the influence of being absorbed in the art school culture and coexisting with the hoards of extremely talented SCAD students.

Many of them photograph so differently than I do… going out with an idea to portray in their images. Creating, crafting, constructing – from nothing. Fanciful notions of Alice in Wonderland evolve into explorations of femininity, courage, and the transition to womanhood. Self-portrayals. Intentionally misrepresenting what is actually there. Anyway – those are not things that typically run through my head. These alternate modes of thinking fascinate me… and until now they have not been something for me to latch onto.

So I have this notion of a portrait composed of: person (me!) + objects + environment that seem to emanate from the person… because they represent the person. Objects representative of their owners. Pieces of soul embedded in possessions… this is definitely the influence of my lovely teacher’s assistant for Black & White technique this spring, Junko Muta (pronounce: June-koh). I adore this woman so much, and it is too bad I could not get to know her better. She just graduated with her M.F.A., and I had the privilege of receiving personal feedback from her and viewing her thesis show, Through Pinhole. But what she taught us about kawaii, か わいい, is definitely influential in this new interest of mine. As I understand it relating to her artwork, kawaii (no, don’t be thinking of Hawaiian islands – pronounce it “Cow-why-ee”) is the Japanese idea of tiny pieces of soul being tucked away in our belongings (and the significance of giving gifts as giving away little pieces of ourselves). It is a complex idea that doesn’t translate very cleanly to American-speak, so I’m going to leave it at that. (There is a lot more to it, but don’t seek Wikipedia as an authority on the subject – their article is terrible.) So. Her exhibit was filled with gorgeous 25 x 25 inch prints of intimate still lifes – spilled orange juice soaked up in a paper towel, lovely purple shadows in the folds of a delicate, wispy blouse, tiny eraser shreds surrounding a red colored pencil marking… just delightful. The quality of the printing matched Junko’s personality perfectly – quiet, gentle, softy-colored. Everything was Junko Junko Junko! And in her artist statement she talked about the body of work being an opportunity for her to capture these scenes and accept them as a part of her identity.

So these thoughts Junko must have been having (largely the influence of her Japanese culture) about her possessions and her identity stuck with me. If you know me, you can probably see the attraction. Personality. Trinkets. Metaphors. Simplicity. Clutter. Representation. So what would a person’s portrait look like if it was filled with imagery that mirrored a personality and interests? Or extended from it? I suppose that is what I am exploring. Also… I just have this wonderful fascination with peoples’ stuff. Belongings. As evidenced by this picture:

(Notice roommate May emerging from cave.)

Hilarious. I love people’s stuff. I seem to have ideas churning in my head slowly… through the influence of Junko’s show and a book of Kaylynn Deveyney’s work I stumbled across in our college bookstore (and blogged about back in January). My latest obsession is with this photographer named Lara Rossignol and her lovely Piewacket blog. She photographs the arrangements of her belongings that decorate her house – even using her bathroom as the set for a photo she took for designer Anne Barge! Mostly I am drawn to the charm in a photographer who loves to cook… and then photographs her creations… who is also wildly passionate about thrifting for treasures to fill her home with… and documenting them on her Flickr photostream. Something about possessions and personalities… this is what occupies my thought-space.

But. I digress. (And I really just wanted to slobber over my latest find in a photographer/human being.)

I picked up my camera the day May was packing up, for reasons thoroughly discussed in the preceding paragraphs. And we have a lot to catch up on.

So this image captures what both my friend Scott and I went through at one point this past quarter…

The tortures of working with wire. Major ouch. I poured the entire sum of my physical energies into my final project for 3D Design – an elaborate winged mechanism that fits snugly on my body… and too snugly, I suppose, with all the cuts it had given me by the end of my 12-hour construction marathon. More on that to come.

And the typical view on my desk when working on 3D assignments:

So that brings us to this summer, since I am bursting with photos and ramble to share but lacking enough energy to dive into the task of sharing actual artwork. (Sorry. It will come soon enough. I have been putting off this particular blog post because I knew it would be massive… but now that it has been written we can soon get back to recent happenings.)

I returned home to find my house a lovely place to photograph – and particularly my back porch.

My yard is so green! (Though these photos do not capture that.) I have been sitting and pondering on my porch quite often. Savannah is lovely but it does not get this green. Tiz wonderful. I found this scene on my back porch quite amusing:

Hee hee. Oh yes! And one last piece of news: my internship. Last week I started working at the Summit Church in Durham, NC (our home church) in the media department. I am loving it so much! I must have met at least thirty new people in my three days of actual work and two Sunday services. All of them so nice and friendly. Pastor Charlie went out of his way to welcome me on my first day. And I do feel welcome there… I am proud to be behind the scenes, helping make the little things happen. And contributing to the group design process. This week’s main accomplishment (for me) was tackling the world of Wikipedia. It looks all nice and clean on the outside… but the inner guts and workings of posting and editing are nasty to figure out. Somehow I managed to navigate the endless pages of instructions and pounded out two fresh articles that should be going up this week – one on our pastor, J.D. Greear, and the other on the Summit.

And of course, one of my other jobs is photographing. This is my prize of the week:

I love the colors and the suggestion of people in the background. Any feedback on what it communicates to you? Just curious… I want to see if the external vibe aligns with the internal thought process that flickered through my head as a I shot it. A simple adjectives on the “feel” you get from it would be tremendously helpful.

Well, that’s about it for now. (Wow, this tired me out!) Good to be back. I’ll try to keep it that way.

Oh yes! Lastly. Please go listen to this wonderfully funny recording I discovered at college. I would recommend only listening to it and not viewing the video. This is absolutely brilliant and so amusing. Go! Go! Go! You won’t be able to get it out of your head.

Got anything to say? Go ahead and leave a comment!