A making of story :)
Flotsam is the title of the June 2019 art exhibit at Archimedes Gallery in Cannon Beach, Oregon. In this exhibit, I share the space with superstar talents Nima Sprout and Lana Crooks. This post is a little about my approach to the exhibit and some of the concepts behind the work I created for the show.
And now, just as I begin all my other bodies of work, I began with research. What is flotsam?!
AWW! Did you read that? I mean... how SAD.
So of course, I know that 1. I'm going nautical! And 2. I'm going bittersweet with a touch macabre (not a real stretch for me I realize).
Now, to the sketchbook! Just a few of my brainstorming sessions below.
From there, tons of reference image collecting. Seaweed, sea foam, sea shells, sea glass. Everything beach and seaworthy I could think of. Including the Summer season which includes creepy carnivals and amusement parks! Besides the textural inspiration I found there, I also found the inspiration for my color palettes.
I was drawn to the limited colors, translucency, and smokey finish of sea glass as well as by the vivid candy colors and glitter of carnivals and carnival rides. Take a look at that bumper car! A rainbow of color-shifting rainbow-esque glitter. You'll see that I tried to capture a little of this in the Shell Shrines with a touch of taffy colors. Now take a look at these colors and surfaces in the image of the sea glass below. Perfection! This is is the inspiration for the colors and surfaces especially for the Drown Your Sorrow Beads and the Sit & Ponder sculpture.
Moving on from the aesthetics of the theme, I wanted to dig a little deeper into mood and storytelling. Conceptually, I was playing with a few subdivisions on the theme of flotsam - lost, discarded, worthless things. Things that wash up or wash away after a shipwreck, things left behind after disaster or death. I remember after my father passed away, the things that choked me up the most weren't necessarily big things or obvious things or expensive things. It was the sauce pot with the handle that he fixed that shakes like it's haunted when water boils in it. It was the recently purchased, still-in-its-package comb he'd bought for his mustache but never had a chance to use. Things like that, the little things.
This got me thinking about the Greek tradition of silver coins over the eyes for the ferryman, about Viking Kings that were buried with entire ships, their wives, horses, and more. And King Tut's tomb where he was buried with chariots, gold, food, wine, even games!
Staying on the nautical theme and incorporating my love of miniatures and dioramas, I began creating my own little tomb/shrines as portraits of people that I know (you'll see the portrait that references my dad has a little metal pot in it <3 ) and then expanded to make a few that are a bit more general for the land/beach/music lubber in all of us ;)
These images below are of the original sculpture before they were sent off to be molded and cast into an array of beautiful resin colors by the talented Erik Jacobus. (An artist in his own right who was willing to help me produce these sculptures. It's so amazing to work with someone that understands your vision and can bring it to life!)
These images below include some of the "making of" shots of the miniatures included in the shrines. These were not cast, each one is a hand made, hand painted, and original sculpture.
Here are the original sculpts for the Drown Your Sorrows beads. I broke up a vintage faux pearl bracelet and carved in the faces before spraying with primer and shipping off for casting. Even though the pearl wouldn't be a part of the final sculpt, it was still fun to work in a material that was so on-theme.
Here are a few thumbnails of those pieces below:
From there, I began my fascination with these "sorrow beings" and this idea of being to physically interact with(fight, poke, hug, and drown) your woes. I was reminded of the traditional "Worry Dolls" from Guatemala. I have had a set of these by my bed since I was small. Forever anxious and an insomniac, I found great comfort in them. Via Wiki, "In traditional and modern times, worry dolls are given or lent to brooding and sorrowful children. They would tell their doll about their sorrows, fears, and worries, then hide it under their pillow during the night. After this, the child will literally sleep over the whole thing. At the next morning, all sorrows are said to have been taken away by the worry doll."
For my purposes, I wanted a more visceral, actionable, interaction. With the "The Drown Your Sorrows beads", you tell your sorrows to them and then proceed to drown them one by one in a water glass. The next day, you take them out, dry them off, and start all over!
Lastly, "Sit & Ponder". This lil' fella is simple but sweet. He is mood. I created him as if he were seated at the bottom of the ocean, not giving up exactly, but letting go. He's a little glum but mostly contemplative and at peace. Ever sit at the bottom of a pool or tub and just feel the silence and cradling of being submerged? I rather enjoy that sensation.
Remember these two movie scenes below? They both hold a special place in my heart. Two people, under immense pressure, escaping it for just a few moments, under the water. Like a couple of weirdos :)
Well, this is more blog reading than I think most people do so if you're still here - good on you! And also Thanks! Please let me know if you're interested in any more insight on the show or any of the images in this exhibit and I'll be happy to update. Otherwise, thanks for looking.