“My World” Artist Statement

My World is a visual exploration of the interactions with the physical environments that I have found myself in and the thoughts that I have processed in those spaces. This triptych of photo collages function as a self portrait and a series of reimagined landscapes. In order to create this piece, I took photographs of several places within Indiana, Tennessee, and Illinois, edited them in aspects of color and size, deconstructed them by cutting, and then reconstructed them by layering them together into 3 separate images. This work represents my struggle to find my identity and attempt to answer questions like: Who am I? What do I want to do with my life? What do I want to create? and How will I create it? Sparked my search for identity and peace of mind throughout the creation of this piece. Though the process for each is the same, each step serves as symbolic growth. 

My first piece is a representation of Indiana, which is where a lot of my anxiety and fearfulness has come from. As a student, I think everyone feels a sense of anxiety. As a Black student in a red state, to say the least, that anxiety is heightened. No matter where I go there, I never feel that it is somewhere I’m supposed to be. These emotions tie into the deconstructing process of cutting images and discarding the pieces that didn’t belong.

My second piece is a representation of Tennessee, where I found growth and peace in new experiences. Though red, I never felt any overt sense of racial discomfort while I was there. Instead, I tried new activities, connected with nature, and found solace in the midst of my world’s chaos. These emotions tie into the reconstructing process.

My third piece is a representation of Illinois, home, where I’m familiar with people and my surroundings, and a range of opportunities have been presented to me. These feelings of comfort and stability in knowing what is ahead of me tie into the layering process, where I stitch together the many pieces that make up who I am. 

My influences for this piece include Michael Kenna and Laslo Antal. Kenna’s work features photographs taken with a range of higher and lower exposures to emphasize the  forms and textures of the subjects in his work. The way that he frames his subjects in composition and cropping provokes the viewer’s sense of place. In my work I found that when relating images to meaning, exposure played a large role in setting the tone of an image. Unlike Kenna’s work, Antal’s work does not have a similar straight forward process. He collages images to narrate his life’s events and pivotal moments, leaving the viewer to search for meaning and the understanding of his composition. The themes and emotions in his pieces range from intimate to emotional, mundane to bizarre, and shameful to beautiful, relating to my work in interpretive representations of the present emotions in my pieces. Though very different bodies of work, some of their pieces spark imagination to make sense of place and form.

The creation of My World has offered me solace in my new found knowledge of self and the recognition of my multifaceted identity. I have found that the places we go and the memories we hold on to all play a part in us finding our true identity. As we go through life’s experiences, we create the person we want to see. I challenge you to think about where you’ve been, what you’ve experienced, and where you’re headed, and create a world that reflects your identity back at you.