Listen is a collection of ten ceramic tiles that hold different stories within their multi-layered surface treatments. Each ceramic tile is made with spontaneous emotion while also created with artistic intention. This collection has been fueled by my inner thoughts and emotions representing personal stories and experiences for which I have no spoken words.
When starting my senior art show I struggled with the idea that I needed to create something I connected with as well as something that viewers could connect with. With this in mind, I planned to create a show that had little to no personal meaning, therefore, I wouldn’t have to open up to my art and I could please viewers. While creating art with these intentions every fear of mine started to come true. I noticed that when I made my first piece of “meaningless” work, it ended up holding intense meaning and emotion. I decided to dive in and listen to my inner thoughts and emotions rather than escape. While diving into my art I found myself creating ceramic tiles based on my positive and negative experiences as a student at Cornell college dealing with racism, sexism, drama, gossip, sex, friendship, and love while at the same time focusing on my womanhood and feminism.
The technical process of creating the individual ceramic tiles within this exhibition reflected my feelings and thoughts discussed above. I started with clay because I was comfortable with this material. As much as I originally wanted there to be a significant reason as to why I used clay, the honest response is that I knew how to. The layering process on the surfaces of my ceramic tiles is where I found meaning within my art. I decided to use both hand-made and manufactured stencils to create my surface treatments. At first, I did this because I wanted to be fast and efficient with my art but I slowly learned that the stencils I made and lettering I used began to reflect deep meaningful stories. I continued to use this process. Through using stencils, different glazes, sponges, and found objects to create the stories hidden within each tile, the significance of clay became apparent. I found that the art I wanted to create could only be represented through ceramics due to the intense and almost 3-D surface treatment that can be made by glaze.
As I started listening to my art, I found myself influenced by various artists especially Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer, two artists who use words to portray messages and stories. Their use of short and vague sentences that hold deep meaning spoke to me. The idea that one can say, write or overall create such vague messages that hold deep meaning inspired the words visible on my ceramic tiles.
My hope is that my viewers listen to my art. Listen to their emotional response to each piece. Listen to why they may or may not connect with each piece. Although the stories, emotions, and experiences that fueled the creation of each ceramic tile is not directly available to the viewer, I want the viewer to listen to the stories that hide within each piece. If at all possible, I hope for the viewer to reflect on how each tile may represent their own emotions, experiences, and stories.
Through the spacing and installation of my ceramic tiles in the gallery, the individuality of each ceramic tile is emphasized while remaining in a larger collection giving the viewer space to take in each story. My senior art show as a whole represents my emotions, stories, and experiences as a young female student of color. While sharing these stories indirectly, I intentionally invite the viewers to find their own meaning within each ceramic tile.