Large piece composed of smaller pieces


For this piece, I knew that I wanted to expand upon some of the themes that I used for my thematic self portrait, which are also themes that I reflected on being a significant part of my work in general- in both my visual art and my writing. I wanted to continue playing with texture and elaborate on the theme of change and transformation that was central to my self portrait. Immediately, the concept of “shed skin” came to mind. I wanted to portray the idea of collected “shed skin” or pieces of my past self peeling away to reveal something unknown, new and exciting. I used cardboard scrapes and glued them using a glossy adhesive to a cradle board. In order to make the concept of the skin translate as peeling and shed, I overlapped the cardboard pieces and worked on peeling them back from the board once they were glued on.

I wanted to represent that transformation and significant change can be painful and overwhelming, sometimes even resistant. In order to represent this in my painting, over and under the flesh-colored cardboard scrapes, I painted in a thick, deep blood red color. Then, I took safety pins and stuck them through some of the overlapping pieces of cardboard and layered on clumps of drying blood-colored paint as well as globs of hot glue that I painted over to look bloody. This represents the hesitancy to open up to change and transformation, trying to keep things together and the way they were; resistant to giving into what is being rid of.

Coming off of some of the safety pins are pieces of twine. To me, the inclusion of the twine is representational of two different ideas: one, further enhancing the resistance to change, attempting to sew shut the opening that is growing in size underneath the shed skin. But it also represents the growth that lies underneath: where the twine overlaps with the opening, it is painted green to be symbolic of growth and new beginnings, almost like a vine. When the twine overlaps with the “flesh” however, it is bloodied like the rest of the shed pieces of skin.

Lastly, I wanted to even further exaggerate the visual of the shed skin being lifted and peeled back. I decided to cover my fingers in the red paint I was using to represent blood, and pick at the cardboard peeling it back further myself. Some pieces of cardboard where only partly glued down initially in order to represent the shed skin. I wanted take it a step further and spread that peeling across the entire board instead of having it concentrated along the opening of the two sides of “skin”.

The opening between the skin, or the “gash” is abstract. I wanted it to still contain a level of mystery and surprise as the future is always full of that. I don’t know what all lies ahead of me, and instead of imagining the future as all good or all bad, I wanted to represent a balance of both positive and negative. This is why I chose to have the base of the opening be a black and white scale of swirling patterns. In order to incorporate more texture into this “gash”, I used a hot glue gun to add some extra swirly texture that I then painted over and used as the framework for the swirling paint pattern. From the edges closest to the “skin”, I added a little bit of the deep red to the black and white paint, but the further the swirl gets from the skin, the less red there is and green instead takes over; swirling into the smallest curves and centers of the pattern. This is, yet again, to demonstrate the positivity that can result from enduring difficulties. Yes, there will be some pain and you will mourn the parts of yourself that you have lost, but the possibilities of new growth are alluring.

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