I know that when it comes to art, I’m a very lonely kind of person. I don’t feel comfortable sharing art with another person. I can do schoolwork just fine in partner or group projects–like a history or math project or something–and even better if my group gives me the “artsy” part of the project like drawing, but an art project is something completely different. If I had to, I probably could do a kind of “I-do-the-linework-you-do-the-color” collaboration with another artist, but overall, I think I thrive best on my own in art. Art is intimate and sensitive to me; it’s where I shed my skin and leave myself vulnerable. It’s hard to connect that with another person.
In the beginning of the project, my partner Echo and I somewhat agreed on this mentality. We had a difficulty forming a conversation we could connect to each other with. So we inherently created a project that was more focused on our similarities instead of our conversation. We found out we were both Capricorns, the Sea Goat zodiac. Also, based on the concept of masks, we related on using actions that could be seen as angry or self-destructive behavior to mask our emotions. This influenced the medium and thought process of our projects, which we chose to each do individually with the same concept and theme. I chose to make three watercolor pieces in a series that depicted a girl with horns crying, the girl cutting her horns off, and then the girl inserting her head into the mouth of her beast, which could easily close around her without her horns. The horns were influenced by our Capricorn theme and the story of the series was based on the mask we related on. Echo made a mask with large goat horns out of a brass wire. While I believe the individual pieces were both impressive, I also think that compared to our classmates, we lacked a certain connection in our work.
In the following week, Echo and I arranged to meet up and find a way to connect our different projects. We met in the Making Center in the Parsons building and had a conversation about how the beginning of the project was difficult because of the respective intimacy that we have with our art. After lingering on the topic for a bit, we threw ideas back and forth about what to do for the project. We related in the way we knew how to give stick-and-poke tattoos and we reasoned that tattooing each other would undoubtedly form some type of connection. So we left to go tattoo each other in Echo’s dorm.
On the way out of the Parsons building, we were in the elevator when everything went pitch black in the enclosed space. For about five seconds, we were silent, trying to register what exactly happened. I vaguely remember thinking to myself “please don’t let Echo be one of those people who have a fear of being trapped in an elevator”, just as we looked at each other and the door opened. We rushed out in relief that we weren’t trapped and I told her the quick thought I had. She told me being stuck in an elevator was actually one of her fears.
Once we got to Echo’s dorm, I met her suite mates and the one-eyed cat that lived with them. Echo and I sat in the living room and set up our tattooing kits. I have the tendency to carry it with me in case a friend would want a quick tattoo and I could make a quick buck. We decided on the tattoo we wanted the other to do, drew it on each others skin in ballpoint pen, and prepared to tattoo each other. The table had blue nitrile gloves, India ink, alcohol, bottle caps, and paper towels scattered around it until we finished, about an hour later. I wanted the words “KEEP GOING” in the font that I saw Echo do on herself on my wrist and I tattooed a cross onto her leg. It was a process that did involve a bit of pain, but it was one we were both used to. We took pictures of our tattoos and topped them with A&D ointment.
For the next class, Echo couldn’t come because she felt sick, but I was able to set up and present the project. I chose to bring in a purple drape-like blanket and small tea light candles along with print-outs of the photos we took and our previous individual projects. I arranged the presentation so the blanket was pinned to the wall and draped slightly onto the table where the wire Capricorn mask was placed. The three watercolor pieces were pinned onto the drapery and the two photos of the tattoos were placed above them. On the table besides the Capricorn mask were scattered tea light candles and tattooing materials such as needles, ink, gloves, and alcohol. For the presentation I also turned off the lights and lit the candles to give the the piece a presence similar to an altar.
I think that because the weakness of our project was shown in the first critique, it was easier to find a way to strengthen our piece for the final critique. I believed the critique midway through the project helped improve the potential and outcome, which was shown in the comments received about the final presentation, which tied together all aspects of our project. A strong point of the final critique was the presentation itself, which even brought together the part of our project were we lacked a connection. The “altar” of our connection had a very strong visual presence and worked well with the aesthetic of all the materials. Overall, I believe that the end result of the project was extremely successful.