IPS: Part 2

I did not work as much on my IPS during the first term as I wish I had. I planned to spend two days every week just working on it, but in reality I spent more time on the Play & Learn project as well as working on my Sugar Skull molds, a pet project I had since Unit 8. I also spent more time than I originally planned on my dissertation, which put me into a logical thinking mode that made me visually numb. I tried to combat this by watching HBO’s Carnivàle and writing drafts of diary entries and letters that would suit the performers. It did help me flesh out the story and characters, as well as shifting the point of view, but visually I was almost stunned.

I borrowed several books for research during the Christmas holiday. One of the books had an interesting collection of sideshow banners, which really caught my attention. I painted several small reproductions with gouache that was cut and glued into my sketchbook. At this stage I still played with the idea of making large oil-painted sideshow banners myself, but I later dropped that idea.

I looked at feminist erotic comics and literature to ensure that my Tijuana bible would be empowering and sexy without consorting to the male gaze as most pornography does.

The first three weeks of the spring term was dedicated to the Play & Learn project, to ensure it would be finished by the Interim show. I thought I could return to my IPS without any problems, but at this point I had drifted so far from my original ideas, which honestly were quite vague, that I did not know what to do. Should I try to make lot of delicate artworks before I even knew the synopsis of my story? How should I visualize the characters without using harmful stereotypes? Would the Tijuana bible I spent so much time researching really add something, or would it confuse the message? And what message was I aiming for, really?

IPS: Part 1

Hi everyone! The first month of final year has passed and it's time to update this blog, although in a slightly messier manner. The projects are fewer but more complex, so expect to see ongoing updates rather than summaries of things I have done. Be also prepared to find IPS (individual program of study) work with course work, life drawings, and personal projects. With that said, let us begin with the biggest collection of new work for my IPS, which I hinted at in my quick update in March.

I made the first sketches for my IPS in March, after I read about Jean Furella Carroll. She was originally a bearded lady who was in love with a man who could not accept her whiskers. After fifteen years (!) of unanswered love, she decided to remove her beard and cover her body in tattoos. This story is often framed as a sweet love story of dedication, but to me it is more about unequal relationships and sacrifices. The clash of themes fueled my imagination and I started to research about women and tattoos.

During the summer vacation, I started to look more into American sideshows photographs, postcards, and banners. To get a better understanding of the setting and cultural mindset, I also researched (African) American history, specific events such as the Monkey Trials and the Dust Bowl, personal photographs, contemporary circuses, as well as cameras, packages, and tattoos from the 20s and 30s. I also did some sketches of Diane Arbus after several of my dissertation sources referenced or discussed her work.

Quick update

As you all noticed by now, I don’t really fit into the avid blogger stereotype. However, the last months have been even less updated than usually. There are some reasons to this:

  • I really dislike the paper quality in my latest sketchbook and don’t use it as much as I should.
  • I’m mostly working on physical objects (illustrations?) this term, with models, trial and error and so forth. Which leads to…
  • I’m really bad at using digital cameras to document my work process. In fact, I use my camera so seldom that it took me one week to realize that it’s gone at the moment.
  • I have three personal projects that I intend to sell. Call my paranoid, but I prefer to wait post about the project after I’m finished, to prevent people for using my sketches before I’m even finished.

However, I’ve started researching for an unnamed project that I might work on during the 3rd year. I don’t want to say anything about it yet, but it might involve tattoos with lesbian motifs from the 30s USA.

This sketch was based on a photograph in a private collection. "Working in San Francisco in the 30s, Ruth Weyland created large, figurative pieces that contained explicit lesbian imagery. A signed photo of her work dated 1933 features two naked women locked in an embrace, standing sic inches tall between their owner’s breasts. [...] Though Weyland was well known, few photos of her unusual work survive.”
- Margot Mifflin, from Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo.