Drawing Machines: Unfolded

My conference project is about mark making in relation to the body. I wanted to use a “canvas” and colors that reflected childhood and family. The clothes line and the lace strung about is mean to display the art in a casual and delicate way. While the remanence of folding is seen in the paint on the dress and skirt, another interesting fold to pay attention to is that of the lace and the clothes. The way the fabrics are hung lets the material’s folds create shadows and alters the pattern of the painted fold patterns.

The base dress and skirt as well as the pain colors are inspired by the small printed photos. My idea was to take the color pallet of two photos and cover my hands in the paint. I folded the clothes over and over with the photo’s respective color pallet on my hands. The top two photos inform the blue dress and its paint: the top image is my Cinderella Halloween costume; and the second photo is one of myself, my brother, and dad. The bottom two pictures inform the pink dress and its paint: the third photo is of me at my first ballet class and the bottom photo is of me baking at my grandmother’s house. The piece is about childhood memory of experiences and how we carry these memories through time. My perception of these experiences has changed over time and I feel this is reflected in the transfer of color onto a different canvas.

I found myself to most enjoy the visible handprints on the fabric. While I liked to see where the creases of the fold took place, I’m much more interested in the process of the fold and its visibility. I can see where my hands grabbed and pinches the fabric. The long streaks show me where I smoothed out and solidified a fold.

The hand prints inform a viewer of the creating process and also hint at the process that will follow deinstallation of the art. When the clothes are taken down, they’re folded up similarly to how they were folded in the painting process.

The documentation of the process through my handprints and the organic looking marks that are created transform the photos into another kind of art, one that’s up for interpretation. The photos have a story, as well as a before and after but this can only be guessed at. The same goes for the marks and the process/meaning behind them. Hearing the different interpretations of this piece in class critiques and from individuals at Open Studios was lovely. While this piece is based on my experiences and memories, I thought it was really interesting to hear how other people’s perspectives impacted their interpretation.

Ron Resch Method:

The material I initially chose was a canvas drop sheet. My plan was to dance on top of the canvas: using my body as the tool for transferring paint onto the canvas. I attempted this on a smaller scale canvas and realized that the material was too rough, difficult to keep still, and absorbed the paint too quickly to accomplish the marks I wanted. I then chose to try using just my hands and arms as tools. I tried mixing paint pigments with different liquid bases: coconut oil and water. I found the water to be my favorite but was still unhappy with the canvas drop sheet. 

I then chose to change the material to clothing. In my second critique I talked about wanting to use family/childhood photos as the color palette for the paint. Katie said I should also think of the materials and installation in this way. Use materials that tie into the familial aspect of my existing idea. 

After choosing the material, I gave myself the rule of folding as mark making; the transfer of color was limited to just my hands and the movement of folding. 

As the folding progressed, I realized I liked the sharp lines created when I would smooth out a fold. I also liked the hand/finger prints that would show up. I learned to wash my hands in between a few folds to keep the colors fresh, while also allowing for some of the colors some time to mix. I made a greater effort to keep these things in mind when folding the dress and skirt and really enjoyed seeing these small details in the final product. 

The trial and error of installation was getting the fabrics to overlap and fold in a way that looked natural. The more I allowed the fabric to drape and fold the more natural the full thing looked. 

Author: Madelyn Shih