Photos Recently Updated

For those of you who follow my blog, I have recently added new photos of my work to the tabs on the main page.  Most of the work is located under the Woobie Art tab, but some can also be found under the Sculpture Tab.  While the semester in DAAP is coming to an end, I do have a few ideas up my sleeve to be started immediately.  I am hoping by the beginning of Spring Semester to have completed two projects over the Christmas holiday season.

Art On.

21c Visit Results

So, the studio visit with 21c Museum Hotel turned into something I’d never thought it would be. Like I said on Sunday, I’ve felt artistically drained lately and unsure of my thesis. After finding the speech by my high school teacher, I was feeling much more inspired, but still unsure of my thesis. This, too, was about to change.

The curators showed up and began to discuss the ideas behind my work. I told them about all the ideas that were brought up in my work by others, but not by myself. After about two minutes of discussing what everyone else has said about my work, they asked from where all of this was derived. It was at that moment I realized I could sink or swim upon introducing the true concept; the concept I held so dearly. I decided to try: I introduced the “woobie”. I told them of my invented vocabulary for my work, what the woobie is and means to those who believe in its magic, and the roots that is had embedded so deeply into my heart.

Smiles crept across their faces. They told me that this invented vocabulary and childhood comfort item was far more interesting to them than the other ideas that had been previously introduced. For the next 20 minutes we discussed the concept of woobie and how it is a trend that has slowly, but surely spread through DAAP within the Fine Arts community. I also showed them my latest works of the bronze woobies and the lit woobie installation. Upon switching off the lights, they seemed to be taken over by the woobie’s magic. “This is beautiful”, one responded. “This should be shown in a room by itself”, said the other. They thanked me for opening my studio for them and I thanked them immensely for taking the time to stop by. Little do they know, they helped me in so many ways.

Although I am unsure of what this studio visit will bring to me in the future, I know for now it has given me the gift of knowing my thesis. It showed me that I have a solid idea; an idea that is much stronger than any other ideas that are being fed to me during critiques and thesis discussions. While I am able to draw inspiration from their opinions, the woobie remains. As I told them, “Woobies don’t hide you from the problem, they comfort you enough to deal with the problem.” So, with woobie in mind, heart, soul, and cast onto my arm for “arm knitting”, I’ll battle my way through dry run and on to DAAPWorks 2014!

Art on, and always, WOOBIE ON.

The Woobie

Intertwined in the soft, knit, oversized draping is where I always found the answer.  There was never a problem that couldn’t be solved once cloaked in the magic powers that have nestled themselves snuggly in every stitch of this white sweater.  One might wonder what those who know its power call such a majestic entity.  This title, so lovingly given, is woobie.

Woobie (n.): A device that is used to create a sense of comfort in a time of anxiety and uneasiness. Woobies come in many forms, but the woobie fabricated by the Motzer family is a white, heavy knit sweater (usually oversized for perfect snuggling).

 

Introduced to me by my mother at the earliest age at which I was able to comprehend, I always thought my family solely invented the woobie.  No one I knew had heard of this comfort item or had the belief that an object like this could heal all your mental anxieties. However, upon doing more research, I have learned that the word and idea of woobie have been around for many generations.  All the texts I have discovered introduce the woobie to be a comfort item that aids in mental anxieties that seem to be greater than we, just as my family always thought.  The woobie is also present in writing in the form of a character type.  In writing, a woobie tends to be a character that is incessantly brought down by different factors in life and gives the reader a feeling that they must console the character.  Ironically enough, this consoling process is called, “Woobification”.   Through my studies, I will prove that the woobie, in fact, has the power to alter our perceptions of situations that give us anxiety in a positive way, and aid us in the process of coping with the problem.

The first steps I took in regard to proving this thesis were to investigate the word, woobie.  Although I felt it was a word that my family had coined, I wanted to attempt to find other definitions and examples of this word that other people were using today.  I was surprised to see that this idea and word had been introduced and popularized as early as 1983 through popular culture.  The 1983 film, Mr. Mom, used this word to describe a blanket.  The spelling of this word was at that time shown as “wubby”, however through further research I was able to find out that this has also changed.

I also found a current definition of woobie that encompasses all items that have been given this name:

Woobie (n.): Any object, typically a blanket, garment or stuffed animal that is used simply for its comforting characteristics; A term of endearment; A fictional character, usually physically attractive, who is put under constant stress and angst so as to create emotional attachment; A poncho liner

 

Another avenue I decided to comb for information was child psychology.  I read many articles, but the one I found most helpful discussed the philosophies of Donald Woods Winnicott and his introduction of “transitional objects” and “transitional experience” into the world of psychology.  To describe his ideas on transitional objects, Winnicott discusses the importance of the object, or woobie if you will, during the child’s distinction between “me” and “not me”.  These two ideas discuss the physic and external realities that we all face subconsciously.  Before grasping the concept, babies are unaware of what is part of them and what is the external reality.  For example, mothers feed them information on the world and the baby develops a bond to the mother.  Once the process of learning what is physical and external reality begins, the baby realizes the mother is a separate being from themselves and will not always be there to comfort them.  This realization forms the transitional experience.  It is at this moment that mothers typically offer their child a blanket, teddy bear, or other comfort item to ease the mental anxieties that occur upon this understanding of “me” and “not-me”.  The object being offered is what serves as the transitional object and is usually the first “not-me” object that the child is given.  Rather than the baby relying on their mother for consoling, they look to the transitional object to lull the mental anxieties.  This psychology is not limited to babies either; many police officers and firefighters also carry these comfort items in their vehicles to offer to those who are suffering from the trauma at hand.  I was also able to find a statistic that at least 35% of British adults use a teddy bear when they’re sleeping.

In regard to the work I plan on fabricating for thesis, I’d like to continue using the woobie that my family has designated the “true woobie”, white sweater material, and make three-dimensional forms that conceptually discuss the concepts behind the comfort item.  Due to the fact that this material does not stand on its own easily, I’ll be doing further experimentation with chicken wire, fabric starch, and wax.  I feel chicken wire is a valid choice because it is made entirely of hexagons, the strongest shape in architecture.  Bees use this shape to construct their hives, a protector of the honey they hold so dear.  This idea is not far off from humans using woobies to console themselves mentally.  I’d like to look more into fabric starch and wax on fabrics to portray the idea that the woobie has the ability to stand on its own and heal all as long as the user of the woobie believes it has the power.  These materials will act as the little extra that’s needed, same as magic or suspension of disbelief.  I’ll also be using different sense stimulators such as lights, heaters, etc. to activate the power of this material.  Through my understanding of the research and my own family beliefs, woobies are activated.  They are snuggled, squeezed, pulled, anything that gives the user comfort.  Some may even feel that their woobie is their nightlight (hence the experimentation with lighting).  I’d also like to further investigate the creating of other ideas of woobies.  For example, I found a patent for a baby blanket with a pocket that can cradle the baby that was developed by Love My Woobie, Inc.  The thesis piece I plan to create will be sculptural and also considered an installation.  It will incorporate all these ideas, but I am unsure of the specific shape or size of the work up to this point.

The woobie has so much to offer us as viewers, and myself as an artist.  I feel the different facets that tie into the concept of woobie are endless, and there are many topics that can be addressed.  While I very much look forward to searching these ideas for inspiration, I feel it is necessary to interpret the roots as my thesis.  This will give myself a better understanding of why we depend on the woobie for comfort, but also it will give the viewer a better understanding of the roots when attempting to decipher other aspects of this loving material.

 

21c is Visiting

Tomorrow is a very important day for my art: the curators of the 21c Museum Hotel are visiting my studio to view the most recent pieces I’ve made this year. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little anxious. I’ve also been feeling slightly artistically drained over the past couple days. But, today I found the answer.

Almost two months ago I stopped by Beechwood High School with a friend of mine. As I was visiting with someone, my friend visited our Chemistry teacher, Ms. Haggard. After the visit, my friend left with a copy of her speech for the graduation ceremony of the Class of 2013. The speech was left under the seat and forgotten.

Today I found the speech. The words of my former teacher were that of a lesson plan; a final lesson plan. It outlined the goals we, as students, are to meet in our lifetime. She reminded us that the cells and molecules composing our bodies are made of something entirely bigger than ourselves, and also that, “in a very real sense, we are stardust. That is not poetic license. We are, according to Neil de Grasse Tyson, ‘part of the universe and the universe is part of us’.”

This speech touched me so deeply that it was as if the words formed a coil that wrapped around my heart; as if this voice from the past made its way through time and space to deliver a much needed message. It was the light I needed in my uncertainty as I travel into a stressful, yet thrilling time in my life. Tomorrow I will show my work with pride; I’ll show them the process, the aesthetics, and concepts I so firmly believe in. Lastly, I’ll be proud of myself and my work, no matter the outcome.

To the voice that travelled through time and space to reassure me that I’m on the road I’m supposed to take: Thank you. Your intelligence and sincerity is truly the best inspiration.

Art On.

“Are You Making Anything Else?”

I quickly and excitedly walked my family over to the work I had finished for the Sculpture and Ceramics show at the American Sign Museum.  This piece I had recently finished was quite the artistic breakthrough in my work with the introduction of LED lighting throughout the work, and it was also the longest “woobie” that had been made at that date.  There it stood, in all it’s glory: mounted high upon the beam that supported the ceiling, a falling tendril of warm, arm knitted material that softly contrasted with the chilled, isolated lights that pulsated through the weave like veins.  They scoped out the work, viewing every inch; from what I could tell, my family seemed rather pleased with my accomplishment.  After a few moments, though, I began to feel that I had mistaken my grandmother’s excitement.

 

“I think this is really nice, but I’m just curious…This isn’t meant to be an insult, but…are you making anything else?”

My heart sank.  I was used to a sense of dissatisfaction from my parents from time to time, but not from one of the three members of my family that had been supporting the conceptual and aesthetic steps I’d taken thus far.  The emotions were so visible across my face that it was almost as if someone had written them in red ink across my forehead.  I could not fathom how she did not see the art behind this work:  The way it gracefully slinked and swayed down the beam and coiled onto the floor.  How could she not see the aesthetic delicacy of each loop that had once hugged my arms, as the working threads were pulled tight?  Her mind and heart were closed to the beauty of the concept, and she was the only one who held the key to its passage.

All the possible ways of working with fiber contain tradition.  Passed down from one generation to another, they hold the keys to our past and future in the twisting of their fibers.  Depending on the ways the fibers are activated, different aspects of its magic are released to the viewer.  The strength that is embedded deeply in these materials is equivalent to the hexagon; and, these fibers make up a lot of objects we depend on in day-to-day life.  For my family, the prized material of the fiber kingdom comes in the form of white and cream knits and wools.  “Woobie”, a term so lovingly created for this material, has the ability to cure any sort of problem or ailment one might encounter.  My work has progressively developed into homage to the aesthetic quality, tactility, and ability of this material, and I only see it growing from this point.

Various techniques of making have been studied through my studio practices this year.  I have also focused on the differences between using tools to fabricate these materials and employing my own body to rely on their construction.  Through these techniques and different ways of fabrication, I am doing my best to capture time, along with the power that is invested so heavily in this miraculous material. I’d like for my work with these fibers to suspend disbelief in my viewers and allow them to see the true magic behind these materials of choice.  Possible methods of doing so could also include found objects to enhance the power stowed away in the fabricated materials.

The work I plan to do for my final work that will be shown during DAAPWorks will have all of the aesthetics and technical characteristics previously mentioned.  I’d like to draw inspiration from different techniques, materials, and readings on these traditional practices, along with the work I have currently been making.  One of the most recent objects I’ve created focuses on the materials taking the shape of larger objects and creating a new aesthetic through their additions and strengths.  Chicken wire and LED rope lighting served as the structures in which to cover, and with the techniques and materials I was able to create a work that lived not only in a well-lit room, but also in the dark.  It seems as though different aspects of the materials are activated depending on whether the piece is shown in the dark or the light, which inspires me to do further investigations of the material’s power.  I’d also like to look at the presentation options and styles of artists such as Ann Hamilton, Jackie Winsor, Orly Genger, and Petah Coyne.  These artists provide a multitude of presentation options and the majority of them also focus on various fiber materials.

The magic is in these materials that we overlook each and everyday.  Artists all over the world and through numerous generations have accessed its power and ability to be more than just a fiber.  Suspend disbelief, and allow yourself to see the strength and power that lies in the “woobie”.

Chicago Portfolio Reviews

This weekend I took a trip to Chicago for a Portfolio Viewing Day that was being offered by the School of Art Institute of Chicago.  If I am not mistaken, there were around forty school present from around the country that were looking for potential graduate students for the Fall of 2014.

There were four schools I planned to show my work: Cranbrook Academy of Art, Virginia Commonwealth University, Columbus College of Art and Design, and School of Art Institute of Chicago.  With only four hours to review with as many schools as possible, I realized a strategy was needed.  I decided it was of my best interest to review with a school that was not on the top of my list, so I started with Cranbrook.  The review went rather well, especially for the first one!  I felt a little rusty, though, due to the fact that I hadn’t attended a review session like this in four years.  It was during this interview that I became aware that graduate schools would much rather you apply to one area of the program rather than two.  As explained to me, it shows an utter dedication to the program if you only apply to one.  I was unsure whether I should be applying to Sculpture or only Fiber Arts, but after discussing it with the Cranbrook representative I knew I should be applying to Fibers.  After being given a little confidence and shaking off the nerves, I decided I could apply to the top choice on my list: Virginia Commonwealth University.  Up to this point I had been looking very closely at VCU’s program of Fiber Arts under their Crafts and Materials section.  After talking with the representative, I felt even more sure of my work and my abilities to succeed in grad school right after undergrad.  The representative loved and raved about my work, concepts, passion, techniques, aesthetic, etc. and was more than happy to deliver a copy of my presentation to the director of the Fiber Arts Program.  She also asked me if I’d take the time to please visit their school and interview with the director in person.  I couldn’t be more thrilled at that moment!  All the long nights, lack of funds, and stress I’d been through over the past years in undergrad were finally paying off and showing the possibilities of my future.  I left that review with optimism that I’d be able to attend the school of my dreams.  My review with CCAD was also rather successful!  They were impressed also with my aesthetic, techniques, concepts, and overall drive to do the best work possible.  I had already visited CCAD for the Sculpture X convention, so they were familiar with me, but I believe showing my work also aided in my potential to be accepted.  I was also pleased with my review with SAIC, as they had an appreciation of my work, but they requested I change the titles of my work.   If my reviews with the previous schools had not been successful and they hadn’t said they appreciated my concepts and titles, I would have taken this more to heart.  Rather than take away a negative vibe from that review, I’d much rather focus on their appreciation for my aesthetic, professionalism, and abundance of work.

I returned from my thrilling adventure last night and mulled over the results.  I am elated with all the responses that were given about my work thus far, and now feel I have more confidence to push the send button upon sending applications.  I also received an email this morning from CCAD in regard to their thoughts on my review. It was very reassuring to receive, as it discussed my professional presence, their interest in my concept and aesthetic, and also offered me an artist at their school to further investigate for aesthetic inspiration.  I very much look forward to making more work after these visits that will have been influenced by thoughts and/or suggestions.  It was just what I needed to find even more motivation to keep creating!

ART ON, Everyone!