Converging Cultures-Messy Life

Introduce the project: In this studio project, our whole class has been asked to create a photoshop (used adobe photoshop CS6) project to describe our unique cultural backgrounds. The challenge was to create a project that showed the culture behind our backs, without being too literal.

The title that I gave my project was “Messy Life”. I think that this title best fits my project, and also best fits the message I am trying to give the reader about my life. My life has been messy, from being born in Connecticut, to moving to North Carolina, then to Shanghai, and now Beijing. The craziness is represented in the hair, which has been happening my whole life, which is why the houses I lived in emerges from my hair because they are filled with craziness. The houses are also represented as a journey. This has been well…my life!

Formal analysis/Message: I started in the house on the right, which is the one in the U.S, to the one in Shanghai which is the one in the middle, to the one in Beijing, which is where I currently live. Now let’s talk about the background along with the house I’m standing on.  The reason I am standing on this house is that I have the most memories that laid on the U.S. From drawing on the walls to playing Yu-Gi-Oh cards with my brother in it, this house feels most like home to me. which is why I’m standing on it, and the more hair outside represents again the crazy adventures that I had there, and how they are always within my sight, how I always I look back at them, how much I cherish them. The U.S: Now, growing up in the U.S was not always easy. You would have nights when I wouldn’t be able to see my mother or father, as they are busy at work to provide for me. I would also have a limitless imagination, such that I can create the playground in the backyard of my house into a secret spy base, which ended up being what I did every evening with my parents out. The crazy part of my American life is my child’s biggest thoughts on the endless things that I could do when I grow up, which ended up making the future that I see before me kind of…messy.  Shanghai: I was just in 3rd grade, and it was also the first time I lived in an apartment. Since we lived on the very top of the building, we could hear just about everything around us, and see everything. What’s messy about this phase of my life is the unwanted noise. I would wake up to a loud noise made from the park speakers, and sleep most nights with fireworks outside, loud crackling noises and dazzling lights. The house in Shanghai didn’t bring me the most positive memories, and they are the messiest part I had to live up to. Beijing: Beijing is the current location in which I live, and in two years, this already brought so many crazy memories to me (we live on the top floor of the apartment). From watching fireworks at night on my front porch to waking up and seeing the beautiful landscape of Beijing, I now feel close to three different cultures, all one crazy journey.

Surreal Devices: In this project, the two surreal devices I used were scale and dislocation. Scale because I created a visual effect of me standing on my N.C building in my own hair, So I resized me to be smaller to stick myself into another giant version of myself’s hair. Dislocation is pretty obvious because there wouldn’t be just random houses inside someone’s hair! I also had a little of elongation, since the hair I have on my head is Not increased in length, but instead, I got someone else’s hair, and edited it to be longer, then placed it into my own hair.

Artist influence: My inspiration for this project was from a photo on the adobe photoshop Instagram page by @demasrusli. In this work, He created a dream-like design where a city was drifting towards him. I created the same feeling by making myself drift along my hair. I also used a lot of Erik Johansson in a way. I took more than two photos, the reason for that is I find it really hard to find the correct photo that fits your wanting. The picture of my N.C, Beijing house were all taken by my monitored camera, the picture of the Shanghai house was actually taken by one of my friends in Shanghai because I obviously couldn’t be there. The photo of me was also taken under my own control. The only thing that was not taken by me was the hair, any hair could have worked, but this strand of hair had already the dream-like feature, so all I had to do was copy and paste, organize all of them in certain angles, and then you got all the hair in my artwork.

Summarize the creative process: From what I imagined my project be like, my project looks completely different from what I originally anticipated it to be. Originally I was going to do a board type project where a game board would represent my project, but I couldn’t make it look natural and it didn’t carry my message very well, so I changed to the hair idea. I also imagined my project be honestly a lot worse than I have created for my studio. The original plan would have been a lot faker and wouldn’t look so dreamy. The biggest problem by far is trying to find things that wouldn’t be so literal to communicate my culture relationships. Flags were my initial thoughts, but that is basically just giving the viewer the main message without making them think. So I then used buildings, places that mean a lot to ME, and symbols to represent emotion (like hair for messy and adventure). As you can see in my previous ideas, I had flags in all of them. The first idea I had was the most literal it could be. I was literally jumping into an American flag, and being held by the arms of the Chinese flag. The second one is a little less literal, but still showed flags blended with the buildings that I am sitting on. Then I thought to myself: “No one should fully understand my artwork and the culture/adventures behind it except myself.” I used this to guide what I wanted my artwork to look like, creating a story behind it, one that I only 100% recognize.

(beginning designs)

Effort and artist growth: In this project, I definitely went out of my comfort zone, like creating hair and light, which I have never done before. I also did try to make the best work that I possibly can, by getting feedback from others and make my project look so it is one of a kind. And I think that this was the most I worked in class since there was always something I wasn’t pleased with and wanted to make it to absolute perfection. Looking back on my work, I think I really have grown as an artist. Even if it was digital work, I really was able to display more of a smooth and dreamy like feel, all while being to express my message complete and deeply.


Beginning idea





Develop craft: There was a lot of tools that I used in my photoshop project that I have not been taught in class. For example, I actually created my own brush using the brush settings to draw my customized, crazy hair (also to draw the background). I went on Youtube and searched up a lot more things to make my artwork more natural. For example, when I was close to being done with my work, I noticed that my hair was kind of dull and many people won’t focus on it and realize that the patch of hair with what’s in it describes my life! so I searched on Youtube how to bring out natural lighting onto your hair. I now emphasized the focal point of this artwork and told people what you should be focused on when looking at it.

Express: I had personal feelings inside my artwork that only I would understand. The feeling that conveys to me is crazy. The hair that’s exploding represents my life as a whole, an adventure, a crazy story, a lightened up and exciting cultural cross that I have experienced, and me as a whole. The houses are actually aligned with how my life is. The house on the left is where I started my life, where I was born, and that was North Carolina. The house in the middle is my pre-teen life in Shanghai, and the house to the very right is where I live currently, living my teen life. I expressed my means even more by creating light in my hair. As I mentioned above, the lighting was a way to tell the viewer that all the culture is here, my life is here, focus on this part of the artwork. The lighting expressed the glamorous life that I lived. The feeling that I wanted to make the viewer think was messy. Now, another reason I think I used Express a lot is because of the hair. The hair is everything in this artwork, I’m telling the reader what my life has been like. But my life has not been a unpleasant life, it’s been a life that I can remember and feel thrilled to have lived through. It is not a nightmare, but a dream, so that is why I made my hair pretty smooth and dream-like, so the viewer doesn’t get the wrong idea.

Understand the art world: This is the main “Artists Habit of Mind” that was used in the creation of my project. I used the @demasrusli picture as inspiration, and I also used the technique from Erik Johansson where I got a lot of taken photos and combined them all together. From going in uncomfortable positions and stances to finding hair of different girls on the internet to fit into mine, I think I did combine a lot of different photos like Erik Johansson, and it really tells the story of my process and the Idea of my project, understanding the art world was definitely a factor in creating my project.


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