Sunday, October 26, 2014

Explaining My Work: She Drowns The World With Her Sorrow

Continuing with the Explaining My Work series, I wanted to address a piece from my Alice Revisioned series.

She Drowns the World With Her Sorrow
Glass, Paint, Photo, Found Objects, Video
(Photo by Pete Duvall)

This piece comes from my series based on Alice in Wonderland. It is directly informed by the chapter Pool of Tears. Indirectly, it is informed by personal experiences. It is also a adapted remake of a piece in the original series I created in 2012.
Pool of Tears
(photo by Pete Duvall)
In 2012, I created a series based on the works of Lewis Carroll and exhibited at 410 Goodbuddy Gallery in Washington, DC.  (Here's an interview with the Huffington Post about the exhibit)  I was really happy with my approach to the pieces and my first inclusion of video in my work. I felt that there was still room for more piece in the series but didn't have the right opportunity to continue with it. in 2013 I was contacted by the College of Southern Maryland to Exhibit in their gallery. I waffled a bit on what I would created, considering a series based on the Wizard of Oz, or possibly simply random pieces without a unifying theme. I do like themes though. Earlier this year I settled on remounting the Alice series and knew that based on the size of the space i needed more works. I had in mind pieces that didn't quite work in the original batch, or that i just didn't have the time to complete. Since the original piece, Pool of Tears, was no longer available to exhibit, and I had an idea of how to make it differently, I set about creating/recreating She Drowns the World With Her Sorrow.
When first conceptualizing Pool of Tears, I had imagined a video of eyes crying behind a boat, inside of a room with drapery. The designed morphed a bit and I decided to include a video I had taken while on a kayaking trip on the Susquehanna River. The boat, the oar, little sea creatures stayed with the design.  With the piece being unavailable and the chance to remount the exhibit with additional pieces, I was able to rethink and fine tune my approach. I was certain I wanted to include my original idea for a child crying. I wanted to rethink not just the elements, but what I was trying to convey. I wanted to really think about the self pity aspect and the destructive part of that. And I wanted to make it a warning to myself. The piece is actually quite personal.

I'll talk about the different elements and how they came to be.
On the top section is a flat window pane with the image of a cargo ship. The image came directly from Cargo Ship, a piece from another series, The Luxury of Dreams.

Cargo Ship 
Glass, Paint, Photo

The image is part photo, part drawing, part photoshop. The pane of glass has been painted as well. I wanted to add another ship element to the piece, and a pretty open metaphor of the baggage that we carry with us. The load that weighs us down in the water. but also the things that we're able to transport to others. The Cargo Ship only exists because of the load it can carry. And I really wanted to draw connections to other pieces I've made. To draw a connectedness, to illustrate that these pieces are in the same world I'm connecting.

The main portion of the sculpture is a slump cast window glass pane. I carved the boat out of insulation foam and made a mold of it for the glass casting. The boat is the same boat from Pool of Tears, but this time with more people, and oarless, adrift in the current. but surviving.

The setting for this current is a section of rowhouses along First Street NW in Washington, DC. As with the cargo ship, the image is a photo that has been highly altered with drawings, photoshop, and paint. And was also taken from a piece in The Luxury of Dreams series.

The scenery represents the world around us, and the ramifications of what could be, and is, lost. This was my old neighborhood, a place I was quite found of, and worked tirelessly for through a home renovation, street clean ups, volunteer work, starting an neighborhood blog, and making murals on a few business. It was really the first and only place I've felt "home". The loss of place, even through a necessary direction in my life, holds a profound effect on me. Theres a lot going on in the piece for me. layered and with perhaps a blurred distinction between Alice, Home, The boats, the rising waters, and those in the boat. I think that we are all of those things simultaneously. The piece represents the destructiveness of self pity. It represents survival in the face of destruction and change. It represents the things and people we carry with us. It is a touching and beautiful moment in the book, and I wanted to bring a sense of that to my work, while adding my own world, and vision and viewpoint. For me it holds a warning, and a reminder, and a fear of sadness. It also holds hope and a means to move forward.
Also, as with most of the pieces in my Alice in Wonderland series, there is a hidden image of a rabbit.

What do you think?

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