Learning Portfolio Reflection Post

My most successful Bridge Project was my very last one. I was instructed to choose an artist, copy her work, and create a piece of my own inspired by her. I selected Rachel Ruysch, a Dutch still life painter who is famous for her depictions of flora. I was most drawn to the symbolism in Ruysch’s work. There are threads of death, mourning, and religion intertwined with her figures on the picture plane. Ruysch’s work has depth. The flowers float within the space of the black background, and hold the same weight as the vase that holds them.

I have always felt a kinship with flora. I admired the honesty in dying petals, and I blushed at the baby florets waiting to blossom. I used to sneak into my neighbor’s yard to watch their garden grow, and I would crouch below the thick bushes to photograph the thick peonies in bloom. I incorporated flowers as part of my nature. They had their own language in my earlier works of art, and frequently lent themselves to my poems and short stories.

Ruysch had incorporated the language of flowers and fruit into the visual component of her artwork. I was particularly drawn to her piece Fruit and Insects. The rotted, flesh-like fruit is feasted upon by the flea, just below it lay a vicious serpentine lizard hissing at a floating butterfly. The two are consumed by grapes, eggs, plums, melons, and various other fruits. It is clear that the painting is a symbol of Christ. It is also clear that this was something she could not openly depict, and so she cunningly used symbols and language to reveal the true meaning behind her painting.

I wanted to incorporate Ruysch’s imaginary world with my physical world. I created a still life of my own and carried it everywhere with me until it withered. The still life was composed of flowers that I observed in her paintings: roses, carnations, wildflowers, etc. I decided to do this because I wanted to mirror the vision of Ruysch in front of me. I researched her paintings online and through books of Dutch still life paintings, as well as books in regard to flower symbolism. I was able to draw a line through my research and into my art because I was able to give flowers a new context once I incorporated them into my life.

I feel that this is my most successful project because I had the most creative direction with my artwork. I was able to experiment with performance art, which was something I was previously deterred from. Performing gave me a sense of agency and artistic control that I have not experienced before. I feel that my project communicated very well. My thought process was the entire artistic process. My project never had a beginning or “planning” stage. Once I purchased my bundle, my new life began with my flowers. That is what made it so miraculous. I was constantly aware of my creation, and I coexisted with my piece and my process. It is something I hope to do more of in the future. I have many questions as I begin to enter Seminar and Studio 2. I have heard a bundle of conflicting information. I understand it is more “focused,” but I do not know if that means each project will have one common theme, or if there will only be one project overall. I also understand that some classes have a class wide project. Does this mean I could potentially have a semester-long group project? I hope the confidence I gained from this project can help bolster my self-esteem going into Studio 2.

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