An Exploration of Self
This work has centered on the ideas of mental illness, specifically relating to anxiety and bipolar disorder. I wanted to create a series of work that reflects what those experiences have been like for myself, but not by using direct imagery of this experience. The pieces are meant to be a reflection of my own experience.
For my thesis my work has centered on the ideas of mental illness, specifically relating to anxiety and bipolar disorder. I wanted to create a series of work that reflects what those experiences have been like for myself, but not by using direct imagery of this experience. While the pieces are meant to be a reflection of my own experience, and they are self-portraits, I did not want there to be a complete disconnect between my work and the viewer. I want there to be an obvious struggle shown in the work, and a feeling of tension, with myself as the figure and the overall composition of the work creating that feeling. I originally wanted to create these self- portraits to express emotion in a way that was relatable to a wide group of people. To do this I created images where the emotion is not specific, so the viewer is able to create their own interpretation of the work.
While the project started with the intention of only using charcoal to create the compositions, it evolved over time to include more color and expression with mediums such as ink, pastels, and digital creation. The inclusion of color came from a need to create more vivid images that matched the intensity of the emotion that I was conveying, without changing the intensity of emotion in the figure itself. This idea is also what influenced the decision to move away from carefully articulated line and rendering, into loose and expressive strokes that match the energy of emotion that is being depicted. This was something that I learned was easier to do with charcoal and pastels, because those are materials that make complete control over strokes difficult. Because of this, both the material and the subject required me to be more expressive.
Another aspect of the work that is very important is the lack of eyes. In almost every drawing, the eyes are replaced by a white space. This is intended to create a feeling of loneliness, but also a feeling of loss, all things that are an aspect in dealing with mental illness. Another intention behind this decision was that by removing the eyes I was also creating a sort of anonymity or lack of identity. This is so that the viewer can insert themselves into the image and understand the feelings of the work.
Something that has been changing throughout my work is the difference between putting white onto a black background, and putting black onto a white background, or any variation of the two. This includes the use of color onto different backgrounds. This changes the way that the drawings are viewed because in one instance I am pulling out the white space, or opening up the black space with color. In the other case I was working on white backgrounds to information and depth to the pieces. The images done in charcoal create this effect because I am adding value and dimension to a white page, changing the way that the images are viewed. I have found the process of putting white onto a black page to be a more interactive and expressive process for me. While working digitally, things are much different because I can alternate between backgrounds and colors, without one being static, so it allows for these pieces to be more expressive.