The Intoxication of Art

“The reward of art is not fame of success but intoxication.”-Cyril Connolly.

Being in the studio every day has been intoxicating. Making art is intoxicating. Creating something from nothing is intoxicating. No special substances are needed for the intoxication that comes from being an artist.

Walking into an art school after being away from one for 5 years is a strange feeling. The halls of ACAD are mostly empty in the summer. Tucked into a corner of the 3rd floor are the studios of the Summer Residents. I have been given a quarter of a large shared space to become my studio for six weeks.  I set up my studio space at ACAD on July 10. 


I had free reign over available furniture to outfit my space. I chose to create a large L-shaped working space with tables and a bar height table to display finished work. I brought two of my first sound wave pieces with me to hang on the wall as a reminder of the inspiration for my residency. It also helps to start with some artwork on the wall. Makes it feel a little less empty and daunting when creating new work. 


The first week here I was in the studio in the morning for a couple hours each day. The week started slowly by getting settled in and figuring out what I needed to begin my work. I came prepared with a few ideas I was ready to start making. I wanted to create light boxes to display some images of viruses under a microscope. The light boxes needed to look like the medical imaging light boxes that doctors’ use to view x-rays and scans on.  I found some shadow box frames at Michaels and that are perfect for this purpose. I also found LED light strips at Rona to illuminate the frames. After a few tests with the led lights and more trips to the store to get more lights, I made 5 light boxes that would be great for displaying my images.

Week 2 has been spent creating the images to go into the light boxes. The images were designed on the computer and I am re-creating them by hand with alcohol ink. It is important to me that the images are hand made versus printed from the computer. One of the themes I am working with is the spread of ideas and transmission of values. I feel that by making the images by hand this represents how an idea changes in subtle ways as they are transferred from one person to the next.

I am using vellum as my drawing surface. Vellum is non-porous and translucent which makes it perfect for use with alcohol ink. The translucency of the vellum allows the light to come through but also distorts the image that is layered underneath. Each of the light box images is composed of 3 layers of vellum. Layer one is the sound wave, layer two is the disease, and layer three is the quote represented by the sound wave. 


I have chosen images of Sexually Transmitted Diseases to be represented with sound waves of misogynistic quotes said by Donald Trump. Let. That. Sink. In. For a moment. Yes, there is some shock value here. I chose these images to make an impact and make you think. I want to show how quickly an idea can spread, much like the spread of STDs. The images of the infections under a microscope do not look particularly nocuous; in fact they look kind of beautiful. This is similar to the words said by Trump. They do not seem particularly horrible at first glance. In fact, many people may have forgotten he said these things. However, these ideas spread into our culture and affect how people treat each other. I believe when a person in power says something, those words become powerful. 


The light boxes themselves also hold meaning. I am “illuminating” these words in the hopes that people will look again, change their mind, to think about what they say or hear. The images in contrast with the quotes are ironic.  For example, pairing “such a nasty woman” with the image of Gonorrhea shows an example of something that truly is nasty.  “Pregnancy is…an inconvenience for a person that is running a business” is shown with an image of Chlamydia. What is truly the inconvenience here?

In the next couple of weeks I will be also creating some petri dishes with alcohol ink images of other viruses, diseases and bacteria and pairing them with sound waves from other sources. These will be displayed on top of a long light box for people to be able to pick up and examine more closely.

Every day I get to create I go home (exhausted) but fulfilled in knowing I truly put my self into my work and my exhaustion turns to satisfaction and pure intoxication. This is what keeps me coming back for more.