ARTiculation Alumni 2015
I entered the ARTiculation competition in 2015 to improve my analytical and public speaking skills. In my speech I surmised that behind Jeff Koons’s ostentatiously colossal sculptures are tender feelings evoked by his marital separation. I titled it Connected Separation; to me, Koons’s paradoxical artworks are visual letters to his son, crafted by a longing to preserve their bond. To my astonishment, I became a finalist. This achievement urged me to explore the relationship between art and emotion in a broader context.
ARTiculation was the catalyst for my interest in attachment theory. Writing about Koons’s work became a process of self-reflection. I realised my own work was motivated by Connected Separation. I found it predominately in the project I created during my foundation diploma at City and Guilds of London Art School where I had sculpted nearly one hundred miniature abstract forms in clay.
I noticed I had become quite attached to my collection sculptures lined up across my desk, referring to them as my Sculpture Family. I even individually photographed and named them all after people I know. Consequently, I decided to research human attachment to inanimate objects. As Christina Jarrett explains, the psychological drive behind collecting items “is motivated by existential anxieties- the collection, an extension of our identity lives on, even though we do not”. This reminded me of something Koons’s said, “I believe that my journey has really been to remove my own anxiety”. Like Koons, I was creating Sculpture Family to fill the familial void I felt during my parent’s protracted marital separation.
Encouraged by the skills I gained from ARTiculation, I wrote an evaluation of my work I titled Sharing Art and Affection: Giving up my sculptures for adoption. Even though I was the sculptures’ creator, I wanted to find each of them a new owner who would foster a character within them. I printed off passport-sized images of the sculptures and asked students and tutors from my art school to choose one and offer the adoptee-seeking figures a name and three personality traits. I preserved Sculpture Family by framing and hanging photographs of the sculptures to evoke a home wall of family snapshots. For the final show I gave away all my sculptures in an adoption ceremony, abreacting my familial loss.
City and Guilds Art School is a unique hub of creativity. I gained generous information about the art world from my tutors who were all practicing artists. My conceptual work grew as I spoke to my tutors regularly and discovered more media through the numerous workshops I attended. For my project, I made the frames from scratch and constructed zinc nameplates using the wood, metal and printmaking facilities available to me. This enhanced my practice as I felt more control over my subject matter than ever before. I am currently thriving on their BA Fine Art course.
Truthfully, at times writing ‘has the atmosphere of an internal crucifixion’, as Wayne Koestenbaum states. Finding the right words, can at times, feel like fishing in a barren lake. As an artist, there is nothing more frustrating than feeling unable to explain my work. I know its purpose in abstract concept and feel clear on why I am creating, but written justification often eludes me. ARTiculation taught me to pursue through the struggle until the rewarding conclusion. The themes I examined in my speech lead me to where I am today.