keeping track of thought process and inspirations

Entry – 1

This Summer, nothing went as according to planned. The initial idea was to work as a summer camp counselor, but with Covid-19 holding the world hostage I had to finally let go of that option. Fortunately, I was allowed to continue working with ceramics in my college’s studio space, so I decided to take this time to begin thinking about my senior art thesis.

As uninspired as I always find myself at the first stages of project development, I decided to follow advice that is often offered to young artists out there: “just do something, the ideas will follow.” okay. I’ll just make some tumblers à la Courtney Hassman and play around with surface design as I had watched Dustin Yager do in a tutorial on Youtube. I have tried taking comfort in acknowledging that, as a beginning artist, coming up with “grand original ideas” and “styles” is not the easiest tasks; there is so much to learn and, personally speaking, the most helpful approach is to draw inspiration from the works of other amazing artists. In the end, it is always enlightening to try and understand which elements catch my attention and why I gravitate towards one body of work over another.

After hand building a few tumblers I realized that black, pink and white were the colors predominantly used on the pieces. As these colors and shapes became more familiar I decided to push the work onto a less functional path in order to uncover my interests, to reveal what exactly fascinated me about all this – peeling open a fruit to reveal the flesh on the inside.

When displaying the three colors over different surfaces, I realized that black and the white worked as elements of the piece’s body, as positive and negative spaces, whereas the pink areas acted mostly as a decorative details. This process led me to reflect on notions of beauty, femininity, and most interestingly, sugar-coating.

Oxford dictionary renders 1870 as the birth year of the term “Sugar-coating” and as far as I am concerned, the literal expression exists only in English; both Portuguese and French have words meant to describe the same idea but do not contain the word “sugar”. “To put lipstick on a pig”, also a delightful expression to represent the embellishment of something in the hopes of making it seem more attractive than it is. Finally, my personal favorite: “to polish a turd” (“you can’t polish a turd”- possible title of one of my pieces – we shall see).

What fascinates me about this concept is not only the ample array of definitions but also its potential for deep metaphors pertaining to my condition as a young, Brazilian “artiste”.

Entry – 2

Nearly a month has gone by and my work continues to develop as it gains new influences, meanings, and aesthetics. I have finally reached the point where I felt ready to turn the ideas into solid physical forms and what has come out as a result has both pleased and shocked me.

Going through an interview with Monika Grabuschnigg, I found the words to my current thoughts on how it has been to navigate a work process. She describes it as “an unconscious gesture that manifests itself into a concise series of thoughts”. Similarly, my piece will take form based on a loose sketch and an idea of a feeling. Throughout the making process, I will always arrive at a point in which the clay structure looks nothing like I desire it to, so I struggle with it, impose my will where possible and concede it where not. Many times I sit on the stool to try and figure out what is missing only to realize that the piece is actually complete! Bliss. The “conciseness of the thought” is not always immediate, however, this I unravel with time and conversation.

Entry – 3

As I chose to document my process, it becomes clear how disappointing the lack of progress shots can be. My plan is to now better record images and videos of my work. Here’s what my foolish self thought meaningful to keep record of.

Two of three pieces in the studio

Entry – 4

A series of recent events have led me to take a deeper look into the reasons behind feelings of shame and embarrassment. I am thinking specifically of the Portuguese word “pudor” or it’s closest English approximation “prudishness”: that feeling of shame related to one’s own body exposure or the loss of one’s innocence. When I think about this word, my mind jumps to scenes of the native Brazilian women whose naked bodies were transformed in objects of shame or embarrassment through the eyes of settlers. I also think about the word “odor”, which sounds similar but does not have any direct connections to the “pudor”.

The three pieces pictured above feel quite obviously sensuous. They currently live in a small corner of the studio, covered by white plastic bags; discolored, un-bisqued, quite modest in presentation. However, once in a while they must make an appearance to whoever ventures to my working area looking for some explanation to my insistent presence in the otherwise vacated area. As I uncover the objects, a light feeling of prudishness fills me as the other member of the audience, seemingly caught off guard, scrambles for not-too-explicit words to describe what they see. Almost as if to make sure I’m aware that these pieces look like “voluminous forms alike to the female chest” or “sensuous female body parts”. Once the conversation continues and it is understood that we find each other on similar pages of understanding on the impressions conveyed by the work, the mutual prudishness further dissolves: “yeah! I actually thought they looked like dicks when I first saw them!”

Entry – 5

New forms and ideas have been taking shape lately. I have been attending the studio with less frequency, as the term approaches. Each time I enter the Art building, ready to take on a load of work, I end up spending time on one piece and feeling too exhausted to carry on to the next assigned one. So, time has not been spent productively, is all I can say. Anyways, maybe because of the vagueness of my recent thoughts, these clay forms have adopted a more abstract quality with a deeper research into textures, forms, and colors.

The main ideas remain the same, meaning, the study of female sexuality and how it is seen/represented in society. What symbols exist around us that are representational of femininity and sexuality? Here are some photos of the work in progress. I have also been working on some smaller-scale wall pieces and appreciating the informality that they provide as I am able to incorporate all my ideas in a more carefree manner.