End Result: Overall, I want the thesis project to push me to use ink own a larger scale, be it in book form (Quantity), or physical size (quality). I am interested in creating something with a semi-commercial appeal.
How to challenge myself: Create art that is narrative and conceptual, that portrays a range of emotions
Project Proposal 1: A kids book: “Marin and The Mushrooms”
Why: I believe childhood is inherently traumatic. One can have a perfectly normal and happy upbringing, but there is always a feeling of powerlessness. A child is at the mercy of their parents—the emotionally damaged byproducts of a different generation, or their own imagination—where monsters run rampant. Years ago, I made a collection of works around this theme called, “Bedtime Stories and Other Disturbances.” In this collection, I portrayed the nightmare that is childhood: monstrous adults with animal heads, traumatic playdates, and the feeling of suffocation that arises from “hover parents.”
Books like “Where the wild things are” and “Epileptic” explore how two kids form alternate realities to escape into when real life becomes too hard to deal with. In “Epileptic,” David B. copes with his older brothers onset of epilepsy by drawing creatures and environment to immerse himself into. Throughout this story, the narrator weaves in and out of this imagined reality, wherein the line between the two blur. In “Where the wild things are,” Sendak’s character Max, feeling powerless in his own life, retreats into an imagined world in which he has complete control over the monsters.
Story is a means to escape. This project is the opportunity to escape into my own imagined world. I imagine the character leaving their reality to one that is more palatable—at least on the surface.
The Format: When visiting the MET recently, I stumbled into a calligraphy exhibit. Religious books have long been a fascination to me, not because I believe in the stories, but because I see them as works of art. These books were Qur’an’s. They were richly illustrated with architectural motifs, calligraphy, and gold leafing. I want to incorporate some elements of old illuminated manuscripts and religious books into an original kids book story.
The creative challenge inherent in this is: how do I make a sophisticated “art book” appealing to kids, both visually and story-wise. How do I address complex emotions in a way that is palatable? How do I merge the realistic with the fantastical?
Project Proposal 2: A series of Narrative Illustrations revolving around the theme of Hauntology
Why: I recently learned about Hauntology. It’s this idea that we are haunted by our own lost futures. Looking to the past in the only way we can imagine a future. We look to see what previous generations imagined a future would be, thus recycling old ideas, rather than inventing new ones. I’ve noticed a cultural nostalgia ever-present in current pop-culture: TV shows set in the 80’s (Stranger Things) and 90’s revival in music and clothes. With climate change, war, and an increasingly hostile political climate, it’s hard to be optimistic about the future. By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Flooding will lead to food and housing shortages. The future is uncertain. The past is safe. Nostalgia is more comforting than reality.
Illustrating these lost worlds would allow me to work with conceptual elements, symbolism, and sort through my own nihilistic views. What did people of the past think the future would be like? How did the culture at the time affect how the future was viewed? For the current generation, what does their future look like? How does our past influence our perceptions of the present? How does the present influence how we perceive the past?
The Format: The illustrations would be large format (18×24 or larger), with the presentation of a gallery exhibit. I want to challenge myself to work bigger, rather than making sketchbook-sized pieces. Because I use Pen & Ink and markers, large scale works intimidate me. I think i could work around this by planning out smaller drawing ahead of time, perhaps even using collage in the early drafts to add unexpected elements/scale/color.
By using pen and ink, I hope to evoke the artwork of old copperplate etchings. This archaic style is contrasted with a modern context of environmentalism and existentialism. These larger pieces could then be used to create a book about our lost futures that would serve an exhibition guide. I could make 5-10 pieces. I believe that I can stay engaged with this project for the semester (or year) since it will require a lot of research, in regards to both philosophical concepts of Hauntology, as well as documented historical opinions about the future.
Thesis proposal 3: The concept of home and the things that brings people comfort: a series of illustrations about the past and how one comes to terms with the present.
Why: The concept of home is something that I have trouble connecting to. Generic phrases like “home is where the heart is” invoke numbness rather than comfort. Distance and estrangement has created this void of “home.” Where is the heart when home is absent? My childhood home is gone, and my parents lost their house that only contained cold echoes. Why does one connect emotion to place? Does a house absorb the emotions of the people who dwell inside of it?
I compartmentalize my family. What is left is a fragmentation. My family is one of my own creation, patched together from a series of friends and surrogate parents. My biological parents are the base of this patchwork quilt. They are invisible but ever-present. I wouldn’t exist without them, yet they provided an unstable foundation for me to grow. I have to constantly work to stay stable and in tact.
The format: an expansive series of small illustrations portraying items that bring back a memory, each with a description of the memory (both good and bad). I’m thinking of 20-30 manageable sized pieces in pen and ink. Some works would be representative, some would be conceptual.
Concerns: This feels more like a personal project than a school project.