Don’t try to “get” it, there is no subtext
When I began Thesis 1, I had a vision of creating a body of work that
would speak to people of all demographics and backgrounds. When I looked at what I had created over the semester, I knew what I had wanted to create at the outset, but it was not in the work. If my own art is not accessible to me, how could it possibly be in any way interesting or meaningful to the wide swath of people to which I sought to appeal?
After an unsatisfying trip to Chelsea galleries, I realized what was wrong with my project: I was so invested in creating snarky and cynical nods to people who think the same as me, I had divested my project of accessibility. Being able to understand any of it would have required the same exhaustive and tedious research that I had done. Much like the art that I saw in the galleries, one had to read the 50-page manual to understand what was going on.
For my new project, I am doing the exact opposite. There is no meaning, save for the meaning or emotive response of the viewer. I don’t think it is anything. It is much more important and interesting to know what other people think it is. It is cathartic to create and completely open to any interpretations. The fact that it is devoid of meaning imbues it with the sentiment that I was trying to achieve in my first thesis project. Calling it accessible would be inaccurate, because calling something accessible means that there is some inherently deeper meaning or standard of knowledge that one must accrue in order to synthesize it.
When I began this piece, I unwittingly began a process similar to that of Buddhist mandala making in two senses. The solid mandala, once completed, is meant to be memorized and then projected in the mind’s eye as a map, a kind of 3d structure in the head of the devotee. Mine is certainly a mind map, reflective only of the temple the viewer chooses to project in his or her own mind. In the second sense, like a sand mandala, this piece is worth, to me, only the process of making it. It is meditative and soothing to make. Once it is done, it’s for others to enjoy.
My favorite aspect of this project is that anyone with a full set of working fingers, pens, and patience could make this. They are just black lines on a white piece of paper, nothing more. That is, unless the viewer wants them to be. What matters to me is giving them, whoever they may be, visceral and visual stimuli. They can interpret it any way they’d like to and it makes no
difference, because that’s what it is. Life certainly isn’t short – it’s the longest measurement we have – but that doesn’t mean that we should spend all of it glaring at things trying to discern rhetoric from reason, trickery from truth.