The “In a Box” project required us, the students, to design and fill a box that conveys a certain theme.
In the very beginning, the class was introduced to Joseph Cornell, the inspiration artist, by watching videos and analyzing his box artworks. We also observed many other artist’s works and learned their art techniques through videos, images and media testing. For example, we molded air dry clay and did paper layering. After the several classes of observation and media experimentation, we began focusing on our own individual projects. To give us a general direction, the class brainstormed a list of themes together. Each student was then randomly designated with a theme by drawing lots. From the two themes I drew, I chose “dream” to focus my project on. Then, every student created a personal idea web of what they think is connected to their theme. For me, I branched out dream to sleeping, night time, fantasy, hope, desire and many more. In our sketchbooks, we also made an idea vs. visual table. Some things I jotted down were fantasy to castle and sleeping to bed. The last planning activity was to sketch a final composition of our box.
Finally, we were set to construct our box! For me, the second I got studio time, I painted the inside of my box white with a dry brush to give it an old wooden texture. After that, I collected materials. In my vision, I was resolute with the idea of using glass bottles, so that was the first thing I picked. However, while I was sifting for more items, I began choosing objects that looked nice and notnecessarily the ones that fitted my theme. The objects were either brown, beige, yellow, or white, even though I was supposed to use dark colors to show night time. My peers also felt as if my box was communicating “nature” because of the organic colors instead of “dream”. That’s when I became stuck and had to rethink about my plans. To resolve this challenge, I thought deeper into the meaning of “dream”. That’s when I discovered the difference between cliché and original. In my planning process, I only thought about the surface meaning of dreams, such as people dream when they sleep and kids dream to become princesses/princes. I decided to not focus on these common dreams, and thought about how in our world, there are people who dream of a home. By making changes to my plans, my product differed greatly from my final composition (except for the bottle which I kept!).
For this project, I must say I pushed myself to try out new techniques. Whencreating an assemblage, I had to keep in mind when placing something in the middle or in the upper part of the box, something needs to hold/support it or else it would fall (because of gravity!). Therefore, I also had to think about how to incorporate the holders/supporters in my art. For example, I created compartments and walls to put objects near the top. I believe I did a great job, using color to unify my art, showing levels, and conveying my feelings/ideas through my box. Although I missed two studio time, I still completed my box in time, so I believe I have organized my time well! From being able to adapt designs based on project to good time-management, and from being able to analyze themes to high workmanship, I believe I have matured as an artist.
By analyzing Joseph Cornell’s artworks, I learned that each of his boxes wanted to tell a story, but the audience had to decipher the story themselves because Cornell avoided literality and conveyed ideas in his own ways. I wanted to do the same to my box so instead of plainly showing thought bubbles, beds, moon and stars, I went a different direction to represent “dream”. The way I designed my box resembles a home. Home symbolizes dream because there are people such as orphans and refugees who long for a home, so this is their dream. The color scheme also plays a role in delivering the theme as it is old-looking and, as Ms. Z have described it, “looks like an old grandma’s home”, creating a nostalgic, warm, and protective feeling, showing how dreams are filled with joy.
Stretch and Explore
In the process of my working, I shared that I playfully followed my desire when choosing the objects instead of restraining myself to my original plan. Although this pushed me off my tracks at one point, it allowed me grow as an artist, giving me opportunity to discover deeper into the meaning of my theme. Without the constraint of my my preconceived plan, I stretched and explored and tested my abilities when creating art.
Understand the Art World
This unit introduced me to many new artists that inspired me such as Joseph Cornell, Chiharu Shiota, Kara Walker and other artists. From them I learned a variety of art techniques such as gluing yarn, layering paper to show depth, using found objects and giving it a new meaning and, of course, creating art in a box. Kara Walker’s art showed her culture and how history impacted her art focus, this inspired me to think about our current society and the life of refugees. Chiharu Shiota motivated me to be confident in my art. Although in one video she said she was shy in front of cameras, her art is magnificent, encouraging me to believe in what I am creating. Joseph Cornell’s boxes are filled with found objects and nothing purposely created which inspired me to not use air-dried clay but rather objects people brought in which I gave new meanings to. Understanding the art world was key to my final product.