Thursday, December 6, 2012


This is the story of a project that sort of came, was, and fizzled out. I have a finished result, but I am not exactly happy with it, so feel.... disinclined to share.

The original idea for Dream-Eater was as follows:

The project would take place in two parts. The first would be in which I place papers around well trafficked areas and perhaps create posts on online sites in which I would ask, anonymously, for people to send me their wishes in one or two sentences. To this end I would print out fliers with my request and large blank spaces in which to write. I would gather these wishes up at the end of a pre-determined time span.

The second part would involve me hand writing these wishes onto an edible rice paper (or similar) and placing them into a decorative box. I would then film myself taking out each with, one by one, reading them and then devouring them and taking them into myself. I would most likely use some sort of costumery to “deify” myself.
I started posting fliers around the USF area. I got responses within hours of posting them, so things were already looking well.

I also had some conversations with my friend (a painter and performing artist who does costuming similar to the kind I want to feature) about the makeup, and it led to discussing camera angles and the personification of western and eastern type gods and how they are shown and "read" as deities.

(Shanna Martin)

I also posted to various online outlets and wait for people to give me their dreams.

So of course all of my fliers got taken down for reasons unknown. Cleaning staff? Zealous students? Hard to say. Similar posters had stayed much longer. That put me in a bit of tough spot of course... all of my material had vanished into thin air. After a bit of panicking, I considered my options. I could solicit the internet some more, though that'd had very little success before, or I could ask random pedestrians, or find some other source of wishes. I asked some of my classmates, but realized this was the long slow way of doing things and not exactly the best use of my time.

So what was a girl to do? I started searching the phrase "I wish" in Google, but only ended up with song lyrics and websites. So, in a stroke of genius, tried the same search on Tumblr and Twitter. Tumblr was a little too image heavy, but twitter was a gold mine. Over a couple hours I had a treasure trove of shallow, vacant desires. This of course drastically changed the feel of the piece, but I was not opposed to this new direction. Besides, we used to burn our wishes to send them away to the gods, and aren't tweets a little like that?

Some sample tweets:

I wish I had all the weed I have ever smoked in a huge pile sitting in front of me. So I could smoke it again.

I wish I didn't get attached because this is killing me.

I wish Susan Rice would just blame this whole thing on Saddam Hussein so John McCain could feel safe again.

I wish halo gave out double xp codes for buying unsweetened tea or water or something. Anything but Mountain Dew

I wish I could press select and delete all of your clothes.

I wish I had a younger brother who was cool and came to me for girls advice and that. But no, mine showers annually

I wish I was in Egypt now.

I wish people would be more thankful for what they have....most seem so grumpy nowadays.....try living in a third world country!

i wish it was falling nuggs of weed instead of snow

I wish I was born in the 50's or 60's

I wish my eyes could take photos!

I wish Warren Buffett would stop writing op-eds and just write a check to Treasury to assuage his guilty conscience.

I wish I had a window seat with lots of pillows that I could sit by whilst I drank tea and read books.

I wish I had a theme song that played whenever I did something awesome.

I wish I could bake a cake made out of rainbows and smiles. I just have a lot of feelings.

I wish I could record my dreams and watch them later.

I wish I knew the people from twitter in real life... The majority of people I know in real life should be drowned at birth...

I wish I was a twitter whore :(

I wish all commercials were just fat guys talking about sandwiches
At this point I wondered if I should include wishes I got from before they removed all of my fliers, and contemplated what sort of costuming I should wear, what sort of setting I should use. In the meantime, my conversations with friends had wandered into what evokes goddess or spirit, and what kind of god I would be if I were the sort to eat Twitter wishes. The latter actually affects the look quite a bit. I can't help but be reminded of ravens, who like to collect shiny things, and how a god like that might resemble one, covered in discarded bits of knick knacks, feathers, and cloth. I may still opt for a more traditional route.
I spent time making hair extensions and designing face paint. I chose a simple color scheme - blue on the top part of my face, red below, with red gradation on my hands, like the Indian women who dip their hands in henna or draw exquisite patterns for their weddings. I wouldn't be able to do anything nearly as elaborate (I would have if I were capable and had the time, and on my face as well), but I do love the idea of that sort of color and reference, since the deity in my head seems more vibrant and almost tribal. The red gradiant actually ended up being one of my favorite parts of the costume. Though, of course, I applied the paint too early during the day of the shoot, making doing anything without trailing red stains difficult.

The hair extensions were made using real human hair of about my color (long story). I've made braids and threaded colored strings and adornments into them. I held them together with superglue. They were designed to be slipped up under a headband for easy use during the day of the shoot. Elaborate costumes are great, but spending hours doing my hair... not so much. Especially when I can use glue and similar when its not actually attached to my head.

I ended up using printable cake paper to record the wishes culled from twitter. There were hundreds of them. I cut them up then spent an afternoon in my Goddess get-up devouring paper. I had some help, and switched up the camera angles for variation. Unfortunately, I had not vetted the set-up well enough and the final video ended up quite a bit darker than I had foreseen. I attempted to pull it out in post, but with dubious results. I don't even have any good pictures of me in costume!

Moral of the story? Art is full of little failures, some of which you can run with... some of which spoil the soup. You win some, lose some, and make more art.

Friday, November 30, 2012


So my thesis show happened.

(I am writing this in retrospect, so it is a bit less hot on the burner, so to speak. But here goes.)

The group consensus was toward a title/theme that reflected renewal, or the transition between school and the "real world". We settled on the word "Soon", written with an infinity.

We each took up parts in an effort to have a great show (though everyone took part in installation and breakdown). These included finding sponsors, arranging catering, designing the floor layout, making pamphlets and ads. I made the website and created a map of the final layout for the on site flier.

Overall it was a huge success, and tons of work. We had food, wine, and even a doughnut truck out front. The show took place at The Vault, a space in downtown Tampa.

I had my own room on the upper floor, and had to repaint it out of pocket, which reeaaally sucked, but I couldn't have been happier with the end result. It was one of the busiest rooms all night, however, which really puffed up my feathers.

My room had three walls of work, featuring the photos and poetry of Return Inside on  two walls, and Vis-Ability on the third. You can read more about both of those series on my Flickr page or website.

Here are some photos from the event:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Distortion in the Studio

So most of the feedback I got for my mask suggested I should just focus on the material, rather than trying to mix it with the things I had been doing before. I didn't actually mind this, it had been awhile since I'd done a very formalist studio shoot and I wanted to explore the qualities of the mask.

I arranged for my model to come back over and we arranged for a simple black backdrop and lighting set up. A flashlight was the final key that really brought it to life - the way I shown it on the surface and under it really changed the way it acted and interacted with his form below. I did my best to hide the seams, uncertain whether the construction would be an issue, by making use of his lovely hair. I also liked the pure aesthetic qualities of it as well. It played well with the light.

Should I care that I've abandoned my original concept? Or that it may not even mean anything anymore?

Here are some rough shots from the shoot:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Distortion Mask

So I got my first images out of the distortion mask, as I have been calling it. I made it from a polarizing material and a bit of fishing wire. The plastic is normally used on the inside of computer monitors, and creates some fantastic effects when held in front of things - sort of like a lens. It took way too long to make, and looks a little shoddy, but it was severely trying to get it to not bend on my model's face weirdly. When we finally finished the model was honestly a bit frustrated and we were both a bit grumpy so we post-poned shooting for another day.

When it did come time to shoot we snuck into a public park in the middle of the night, but honestly it was drastically too dark. Before, when shooting the plague doctor, the full moon and city lights were on my side. This time I felt I had nothing. I experimented with a few things and arrived at several different points, but honestly I am not sure how well they are working.

Here are a few:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Return Inside Part 2

So, after a series of model problems slowly resolved themselves to the positive end, all I had left to do was take the photographs. Easier said than done. All manner of set backs muddied my progress, but eventually we got everything together - a flowy dress, a cake, some people, a high velocity fan, the plague doctor, the fabric, and my model.

The model was a bit apprehensive at first - the dress was much more sheer than I'd had any knowledge of, and she didn't relish prancing about in "her knickers". Luckily, only a couple of the shots included the dress, but I couldn't exactly cut them (one was the necessary counter to the image I took earlier, with my other model). We ended up doing it was a pair of long socks and bicycle shorts, and after a good hundred shots of us throwing around fabric in the blowing fan, all I had left was too composite. And honestly that was the longest I have ever worked on a photograph. Paintings and drawings, sure, but never a single photograph.

Even after it was done I ended up tweaking it on several occasions, moving elements around for a better flow and adding treatments. Now it is one of the crown pieces of my final project - for all of these images will of course come together in my thesis show.

The other images required work in other ways. The lighting was frequently solid and well composed, but the plague doctor figure was still too "fake". Despite my best efforts, he looked like exactly what he was - a man in a glorified Halloween costume. I suppose it is to my credit that the mask looks store-bought and not hand made, but I had to do something. That "something" ended up being a lot of burning in Lightroom, pulling the Plague Doctor out of shadows that had never really existed in the original image, as if he was rising from the depths of some great, uneasy darkness. My lighting professor always did remind us that often the error was in over-lighting and giving too much information, and in this case I cannot disagree.

Why I failed in this to begin with is uncertain. Perhaps too much dependence on a one directional strobe for lack of other lights, perhaps feeling rushed by the needs of the model, or some over-thinking on my part due to the importance of this body of work. I simply cannot say. Whichever reason I do not dislike the end results, so it all turned out well in the end regardless.

Rich People

So the "Rich People" photoshoot went off rather well. My friends and I gathered early, scoping thrift stores in the area for clothes resembling those of the well to do, but on a budget. The trickiest member of our group to dress was Justice, a frighteningly slender man whom suits just weren't made to fit. A window display brought a stroke of inspiration, however, when we decided to give him a suitably prep school look. Brennan's look was the most last minute. He used an old shirt and slacks he had, and a jacket and tie I dug out from my closet. The red was amazingly striking in the images, so it was a rather positive turn of events. If only I had noticed his shoes!

We also acquired a few wine glasses, a bottle of cheap (but tasty) wine, and even cheaper cran-grape juice that would cut the costs even further but still be read as "wine", as well as one dollar squirt guns and (more thrift store goods) golf clubs. All in all it probably cost me fifty bucks out of pocket.

No one would ever mistake us for the filthy rich, but honestly I am more than fine with that. It's a farce, a parody, a satire. This is not what rich people actually do, but boy does it play a wonderful mockery to that end.

I took a particularly large amount of shots, and even when I weaseled it down to "very good" shots I was at a rather number, over fifty. I cleaned it out even further, down to 27, which I arranged in a grid for showing purposes - though honestly I prefer them larger.

Here are a few good ones, you can see the rest on my site:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rich People Beginnings

Basically this started with an idea that was brought up on a long car ride some time ago, and I only recently realized I simply had to do it as an art project.

The premise of the conversation eventually went something along the lines of what sort of things the highest echelon of society do with all those expensive clothes they change out every season. The quote that sparked this endeavor was essentially, said in a completely sarcastic, faux aristocrat voice, "Oh dear, I seem to have spilled my wine all over your dress, ha ha"

In summary: a parody, mockery, or satire of the filthy rich (maybe jealousy?).

So for this event to happen we need to:

Hit up a thrift store or two the day before or rather early the day of.

Buy suitable well fitting clothes.

Buy boxed wine, squirt guns, and maybe fake money.

Head to lettuce lake park or similar venue before sunset and take glorious images.

Dress in fancy clothes, fill squirt guns with wine, ruin everything, all while photos are being taken. Act like affectatious rich white people.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Featuring my series "Attraction". No framed works were allowed, everything had to be pinned to the well. Here is a crummy cell phone shot of my work on the gallery wall:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Return Inside Part 1

This series of images is the start of the work I am making towards my thesis show. These sort of represent... one half of a coin, per se. I am trying to create a dream-like, drifting or floating feeling, that of being lost and disoriented. The fantasy motif was mentioned, but frankly I do not mind it very much, if anything it only adds to the otherworldly nature of it. I hope it does not remove the viewer too far from the state of relateability however.

Now to get to work on unraveling my plague doctor character and overlapping these "worlds".


These images  are largely unplanned. I had taken a walk, in a sort of halfway delirious state, some days before these shots were taken. I went down to the marina with my boyfriend (a place of personal significance to me, though that is irrelevant to this shoot) and I recall being struck by certain images as I went, sort of congealing into my thoughts. I later took it upon myself to retrace my steps and see if I could summon up these spaces again. 

In the grand scheme of things, I think about these images in the sense of poetry - as invoking a mood or head space, visually immersive - which will hopefully, when viewed which my larger scope of images, create a sort of unified presence, each part informing the whole.
Fingers crossed.