Things this month have been absolutely amazing and absolutely busy! I am proud to announce that I am the Grand Prize Winner of the 2014 VSA Young Emerging Artist Program with the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.! This year’s theme was “The Journey,” and prompted artists to submit their work that concerned their own personal journeys living with a disability. With this award, my piece is exhibited in the Smithsonian in Washington, it is also part of a nationally traveling exhibition, and I receive a cash prize of $20,000. I have been invited, along with the other 14 winners, to attend a Congressional Reception in January so I’m already starting to plan my outfit! I am extremely honored to be receiving this award and am so excited to see what this next year holds for me.
My winning papercut sculpture, Never Stopping, deals with my experiences as a heart transplant recipient, specifically the overwhelming feelings related to my physical issues as well as the desire for healing. The entire original sculpture is about 16 ft in height and is made entirely of handcut paper. I also added screenprinted cutouts of hands, legs, oranges, and bananas. These symbolize offerings and milagros, or physical representations of intentions. The idea behind it was for the viewer to become overwhelmed with the structure, in order to mimic my own feelings. For the Kennedy Center, I brought the piece down to a smaller scale, which you can see in the photo.
My transplant is a major part of my life, and I am open to any questions readers might have. I received my heart at the age of 14 months at New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. That transplant team became my family, and I am always going back every now and then to visit. They still follow up with me and my procedure results even though I have switched to the cardiology team at UPMC Children’s Hospital. Right now, I still have my original heart making my transplant one of the oldest single organ transplants in the country.
Ok, so for a while I’ve been going pattern crazy with oranges, bananas, palm trees, and other tropical themed guys. I’ve also gone a little nuts making tons of little milagro hands and legs. Besides making them into little sculptures, I wanted to push them out on the world. Most of the images that I print are heavily influenced by Miami and Cuban culture. Living in Pittsburgh, I’m in an environment that is the total opposite of my work. One day when it was snowing I went out and pasted my little oranges onto a fence by my house in Lawrenceville. Everything around me is so gritty, industrial, and absolutely beautiful. I wanted to place my printed guys in the wrong kind of environment, make them seem more out of place. I’ll be going around this week and posting more around town.
Now, I just want to say that these are not permanently installed. I put them up with some tape, take a photo, and then take them down right after. Don’t worry- I’m not tearing up public property with tiny oranges. But, I would love to get these installed anywhere in the city permanently and I’m hoping that’s the next step.
So sorry about the lack of posting this week, but things have been busy. I should say that this week has been just jam packed with art related happenings. Instead of just making a few random postings about separate ideas, this post will have one big common theme- AIR. Here in Pittsburgh we have a little thing called Artists Image Resource. Well, it’s really not little at all but it definitely has a cozy feel to it. Basically, it’s a studio that has equipment for Screenprinting, Etching, and Lithography. If you want to do some printmaking but don’t have any idea how you would scrounge up the funds to buy your own press or don’t want to store that screen, go here.
Somehow, I found myself going here twice this past week. The first time was this past Saturday for a new opening they were having. New Work was being shown by Michael Hegedus and Jerstin Crosby. I wrote about some other work that Jerstin was showing in my previous post. Interesting that I run into another opening of his so soon. There was also a print signing going on with Delanie Jenkins, Nick Bubash, Hiroki Otsuka and John Ritter.
Loved the amount of detail that was in Michael’s work. Each print was made with 1 million dots. Can’t imagine myself having nearly enough patience to do this.
Works by Michael Hegedus
Jerstin also was showing some work which I also admired for the patience involved. They showed film stills and I really think that it had the perfect presentation.
Works by Jerstin Crosby
Later that week for class, we had the opportunity to hear Michael give a talk about his work and his process. I have to say, I would never have guessed what trouble screenprinting a million dots would be. Guess I should have known. After numerous times of shutting down photoshop due to an overload of layers, he somehow finally was able to make a file that contained perfectly aligned dots to make his screens. Then, the problem came with printing them. Most of the first trials proved to be unsuccessful in getting clean and orderly dots. In the end, he found a way to solve all of his problems and create the pieces. After seeing his other work, I am completely intimidated. I thought that I was a perfectionist with my drawings and trying to get the perfect line. Michael takes detail-oriented to a whole other level. But to me, it all seems worth it for the work he produces.
From there, we all went through the grand tour of AIR. Pretty crazy to thing about the people coming through there. You could be printing next to a total stranger or from a visiting artist.
Some prints hanging in the studio