Friday, January 29, 2010

chair symbols

My ideas for the chair series center around connection, ancestry, and family. I've found that chairs are a useful symbol in portraying these ideas (I just haven't found the best way to do it yet)

The following are my associations and thoughts regarding the symbols in my work:

- for families or individuals
- chairs can be stand-ins but still ambiguous about identity (not about identity)
- they have arms, legs, seats and backs
- Mary as a throne for Jesus, how mothers are thrones
- “no empty chairs” (Elder Maxwell)
- “mercy seat” or “throne of God” how we can become Gods, our own thrones etc.
- judgment seat
- D&C 69:6 "For the land of Zion shall be a seat and place to receive and do all these things"
- A seat prepared at the feast of the Lord
- Ether 12:37 "And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father."
- Reference to domesticity, women in the home etc.
- Temple work
- Patterns in our lives that parallel the patterns in others lives
- The pattern of our lives that leads us back to Christ
- Patterns created in ancestry
- As a reference to quilting, domesticity, pioneer heritage
- Sacred geometry
- Reference back to patterns
- Monotony, mundane, arduous, endurance
- Little things make up big things, being a part of something bigger

source photos

I spent a few hours last week shooting hundreds of photos. I learned a lot when I started to paint from them. While I like the look of the blurred edges and ambiguities, I think it will be better to set up the chairs almost portrait-like (with controlled lighting , bringing in other objects etc) and interpret the lines and shapes with my eye rather than making the lens do that. I do like many of the compositions however.

I started a few studies from them. We'll see how it goes.

chair concepts--a launching point

This was my brain dump from a few months ago. It acts as a launch point for my ideas.

What is my art about? What drives my chair series? What questions am I getting at? It seems to me that the answers to these questions have become rather unclear over the course of the semester. My pieces lack definition conceptually. But the concept is still there; it just needs a bit of unburying.

The concept for this body of work has been curing in my brain for years. It all began with a comment made by my German teacher in high school while we were in Germany on an exchange with students from another school. I was invited to go with he and my mom to Prague for the afternoon and of course I jumped at the chance. On the way back I was reading Lectures On Faith and somehow we got into a conversation about temple work and ancestry. Stefan made a comment that has stuck with me since. He said that he thinks there is a lot more significance to ancestors than we even realize; they play a more vital role in our lives and the Plan of Salvation than we realize…something to that effect at least. I remember how true his comments felt. It closed my eyes and was overwhelmed by how vast it all seemed, but how powerful the numberless people could be. I pictured all of these links, and then I thought of the scripture in D&C 128:18 that says:
. . . It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the ebaptism• for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.
I felt like in that moment I caught a glimpse of how important temple work is. We say that it’s important and obviously we believe it or else we wouldn’t do it, but I feel like there is so much beyond the why’s and how’s it important that is too big for us to comprehend. There is something more.


Last summer I started a project where I interviewed my grandparents about their lives. We started at their birth and talked about them growing up, their parents, their interests, dating, meeting their spouse etc. It was an incredible experience and I’ve never felt closer to them (which is saying something because I have lived in the same city as both sets of my grandparents for my entire life). I felt a connection to them that I had never felt before. What was amazing were all of the parallels in my life and their life, or the lives of their parents. I was also stunned at the same sort of emotional problems or characteristics that I shared with my grandparents and great-grandparents. I was impressed by their strength and courage and entertained by the stories of their lives.

For the past year or so I have had many reinforcing experiences that tell me the importance of our connection to each other. Especially our connection to our families.

And it all sounds so cheesy. But nevertheless, I feel like it’s been in my head for so long, I just needed to spend some time getting it all out, and the experience has been good so far.

At first I drew solely on stories from my grandparents to make paintings for this series. My mom’s mom told me about her mother who was so much of a neat freak she would put newspaper over her newly polished floors for days so they wouldn’t get dirty (grandpa asked why she didn’t just save herself some time and put down newspaper instead of bothering with waxing it since they never got to see it shine). She had the straightest drawers. Grandma said that her mother was always after her for not having straight drawers herself. As she was telling me this all I could think of was my own compulsion to tidy drawers, straight lines, neat stacks and rows . . . I felt this connection to my great grandmother that I never had before. My grandfather’s mother was a singer and she wrote songs. I’ve done a bit of songwriting and took one of her lyrics that I found in a dusty box in the basement and wrote a tune to it. I felt a connection to her.

So I made a painting about straight drawers, but it felt too contrived and forced and just not very good. Maybe it’s because this was the first painting of the series this semester. But either way I didn’t like it. I searched for another story and became fascinated by the one my grandpa told me about his mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who, as he said, “constituted my universe.” They lived under the same roof nearly all of their lives. My grandpa only says things of utmost praise and admiration for these women. What a strength they were to him.

That painting was better, but still didn’t convey what I want it to. But what do I want it to convey?