Railroad ties everything together

So as a graduating senior this semester, I’ve been thinking about my upcoming BFA exhibition an awful lot. *cough* November 25th at 5:00 *cough* I was excited to take this class because I knew it would inform my ideas for my show that I’ve been thinking about over the last few months. Visually my show is still under construction but conceptually I have it worked out pretty well. To get to the heart of it without posting my entire artist’s statement on here, basically I want to come up with visualizations that depict how humans relate to the world around them, for better or for worse, and the balance that we have to maintain for the world to exist. So I’ve been studying and investigating different environmental issues, and thinking about what images to use as my symbols to represent these issues, which I will then incorporate into a mandala, which is a type of circular repetitive pattern used by Buddhists and other religions as a tool for centering themselves through meditation. For example, an obvious issue would be global warming due to industry. Smoke would be a good symbol for that, we’ve seen it again and again in paintings. But I’m trying to think beyond that to lesser known issues as well, like how dandelions are misunderstood to be eyesores on lawns when they are actually very healthy to consume and have been used for medicinal purposes for eons. Another example is colony collapse disorder in bees, which actually is a huge issue because if the bees go, we just have the wind to pollinate our food for us and its nowhere near as efficient as our bee pals.

An artist that I am inspired by is Tera Galanti, she uses drawing, painting, and sculpture as well as her interests in biology and animal studies to create her artwork. She is most known for her work “Beautiful Moths (Fly)” which is a sculptural work/project she’s been working on for years. Silk moths have lost the ability to fly due to thousands of years of breeding by Asian silk producers, thus stopping them from completing their life cycles and reproducing. To fix this, she used selective breeding and has created sculptural structures that are beautiful and they function in a way that encourages the moths to fly up the levels. She has even been successful in getting a few moths to actually fly, which I think is pretty awesome. (Thanks Kelly for teaching that this summer!)

So I said all that to say this, the symbolism I found in the railroad fits in snugly with the rest of my plans and imagery in a lot of ways. Rather than being a symbol for an individual piece of the larger scheme like my other symbols, railroads can encompass everything altogether because railroads themselves represent a balance between nature and culture, which is the overarching theme of my work. I got really excited when I figured that out. The reading for last week, The Machine in the Garden, describes Iness’s “The Lackawanna Valley” by saying “there is nothing inorganic. Instead of causing disharmony, the train is a unifying device. The hills in the background and the trees in the middle distance gently envelop the industrial buildings and artifacts. No sharp lines set off the man-made from the natural terrain.” Bingo, I can so use this in my work. Now to figure out how to incorporate it visually…

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2 thoughts on “Railroad ties everything together

  1. I’m sure you’ll have enough to do already with your show, but I think it’d be really cool to have a powerpoint presentation or something with some pictures of your other work so we could see how it fits in with everything else. I really like how you phrased “the balance that we have to maintain for the world to exist,” because I think most people can relate to that on a personal level, but it’s also a big picture sort of truth. I’m excited to see what you’ll come up with!

  2. Becca,
    I love that you are tying in this project to your show. After reading your post. I couldn’t help but think of your print of the deconstructed beehive. You even mentioned it toward the end of the first paragraph. I am very interested to see what you come up with.

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