ARTS 450-Studio Contract

Overall Agreement

Over the course of this semester I hope to achieve 2 creative projects, one series of 5 images and a second semi-interactive work. I understand that I must spend at least 15 hours of work-focused time each week. I understand that my work will be completed in a timely manner as illustrated by my schedule. I also understand that Nan must be informed of any deviations from the deadline at least one week beforehand. I understand that I must catalog my progress through an online blog ( which will include project notes, sketches, research, inspiration, works in progress, as well as the final product. I understand that I am required to have a typed artist’s statement for each completed project and I understand that all the work generated for this semester will be new and original.


Artistic Achievements:

I hope to achieve a better understanding of narrative imagery over the course of this semester. I want to work on telling a cohesive story through my images, via symbolism and other means. My work to date has been limited to a form of character design. I would like to expand my work this semester by creating backgrounds as well as successfully integrating figure to ground. Most of all, I want to push out of my comfort zone – in regards to subject matter, colors, and media.


Project 1:

                Project 1 will comprise of 5 narrative images. The story as a whole will be represented within the final image. The images will not necessarily be consecutive, but viewers will be able to make connections between the image and the story of origin. At the moment, I plan to work with fairy tales. The tales I have in mind are Bluebeard, the Nightingale, Jack the Giant Killer, Princess on the Glass Hill, and the Ring and the Rose. (Due to content, I want to make the Ring and the Rose slightly interactive. The viewer/user will be able to select the ring or the rose and hover over the figures to display the characteristics said items bring out.) 

                I want to challenge myself with these images so I have chosen stories with equal gendered cast, detailed backgrounds, and key themes. I want to work on manifesting these key themes within the images.


Project 2:

                Project 2 will be a semi-interactive work. Using flash as a host, I want to create an interactive story book of original constellations and origin tales I’ve created for them. Users will be able to interact in three ways. They will be able to enter their birthday and learn the story behind their star sign. They will also be able to scour the sky for constellations- once selected the constellation animate slightly and a text box will open with the origin story and a link to audio. An image of the constellation will overlay the star patterns and there will be slight animations as the story progresses. All constellations will be original designs, figures and creatures of my own making.

                This project will challenge me to step out of my element (ie: photoshop) and work more with flash, illustrator, and other programs. It will also challenge me to stick to a timeline and research stories which I knew once upon a time.


Rhizome Project:

                I understand that this assignment entails setting up 2 exhibits through the website Rhizome and presenting them to the class. These exhibits will take place at two separate times during the semester and have themes of my choosing. I understand that I will need to designate time to peruse and explore Rhizome before setting up my exhibitions and should not wait until the last minute to do them. I will work with the other 450 students to create a spaced and balanced timetable of when we will present our exhibitions. 


                I also wish to challenge myself temporally, as I tend to work on projects for months –even years!- without finishing them. For Project 1, I want to have an image complete a week. Begin working on the image on Wednesday and have it completed by the next Wednesday. At this pace, I should complete Project 1 by week 6 and have begun Project 2 by the same date. I have given myself more time for Project 2, due to my unfamiliarity with the program, the Rhizome project, and to Open Studio’s intervention on November 2nd. My deadline for Project 2 will not be until week 12, November 9th.

                This schedule will allow me ample time to complete my projects as well as push myself to focus on my portfolio. By ending mid-week 12, I can dedicate the rest of the semester to the special project and miscellaneous personal projects.


Grading Rubric:


                “A”- All work was completed as scheduled and pieces are creative, insightful, and demonstrate knowledge of skills. I challenged myself with my projects (be it subject matter, medium, or temporal constraints) and feel they successfully express a narrative.

                “B”- Most of the work was completed on time and was creative, insightful, and skillful.  I challenged myself a little, doing only one or two elements which made me uncomfortable. Narrative/story telling of images is only somewhat successful.

                “C”- I completed all my projects, but not on schedule. My work was creative but I did not challenge myself.  There was little or no success in getting the narrative across in the projects.

Rhizome Exhibition- Visual Literacy

***Due to Rhizome’s change of policies- free accounts cannot save “exhibitions” so I have decided to host mine through my blog. I will present this exhibition in class on Wednesday, October 12th***

Rhizome: A Brief Introduction

Founded in 1999, Rhizome acts as an archive and searchable database for many new media artists. The hope was to preserve a great number of the hosted digital projects. A downside of “new media” and digital media in general is that websites are expensive to maintain, technology is surpassed, interests fade, files are lost, or any number of things. Rhizome is a free website where users can look back in time at digital projects from as early as 1999. The interface is a short description of the work, followed by an optional long description, an artist bio, and link to the work. While many pieces are preserved through Rhizome, the truth is that there are a lot of broken links, sold domain names, and projects that are just plain not there. Despite these set backs, Rhizome is still a valuable resource for discovering digital and new media artworks from across platforms, the globe, and time itself. 

Visual Literacy: an Exhibition

"The thing is…  90% of all the information we take in from the world, we take in visually" -Brian Kennedy, TEDxDartmouth

As both an artist and an educator, I am fascinated by visual literacy- the term applied to the new-found realization that meaning is derived from a combination of text and image. We are inundated with images and text in every aspect of our lives. Information and meaning are successfully transmitted when the balance of image and text is achieved. Text we must read, compare, and define but image, we can take one look and have a plethora of meanings and personal associations. This exhibition explores the balance of text and image in various interactive digital works. From images with subtitles to text as image and everything in-between- these pieces collectively explore the successful translation of meaning as owed to the relationship between text and image.

A Photographic Diary: Jimmy Owens 2001

While only a small section is free for viewing, A Photographic Diary is a collection of over 60,000 photographs taken over the course of a year. The images themselves are blurred, some to the point of abstraction, and a meaning can only be determined by seeing all the images in quick succession- a stop motion journal entry. The idea of a “photographic diary” is a play on a typical chronically of events. Instead of detailing linguistically the events and happenings of ones life on the pages, the artist has created mini movies and snapshots of the life he wishes to portray and placed them on digital pages for the viewers perusal. This plays with the idea of voyeurism, secrecy, and identity as well as narrative. It asks the user/viewer so combine their understanding of text and image and extrapolate. 

A Book with  Explanatory Notes: L  : Sung-Yoon Jung 2002

This piece makes an interesting opposition to “A Photographic Diary” because where the diary had unintelligible images, abstracted this piece has unintelligible text, abstracted. The text is readable (sometimes) but seems entirely unrelated to the surrounding text. In “Love Letter,” braille is used as well as non-western and mathematic symbols. Communication is not the intent of the text, rather the opposite. What meaning you do glean is muddled and disjointed, causing confusion and in some cases frustration. 

In “A Book with Explanatory Notes” the confusion and frustration is greater, 133 frames greater in fact. With each frame, the viewer does not have enough time to read all that is present and can only glimpse a few words here and there. Like “Love Letter” they are disjointed or masked by their standard dictionary-like appearance. After reading several frames, the viewer begins to realize the text is a stream-of-consciousness poem. The intent, again, is not to fully comprehend every word and its meaning but to accrue meaning through word association and flashes of context. 

15 Hiding Places: by Adrian Van Allen 2006

Created from collaged, generic search engine images, it is a reversal of the typical “subtitle.” Instead of an image defined or constricted by text, the text is defined and altered by the images. Each preserved specimen, while not outright grotesque, draws the viewers attention away from the text below each vial. This distraction is compounded by the viewing frame, the user must navigate as if using a magnifying glass. The text itself is unassuming and clinical in form, which does not draw attention yet when read all together forms a poem. The text gives an entirely different feeling due to the images than when read separately. 


30 Days of Rain: Travis Alber 2007

While imagery appears dominant in 30 Days of Rain, the images are only present to emphasize the meaning of the text. Unlike “15 Hiding Places,” the text in this piece can stand alone without the images and the images do not alter the meaning of the text. Instead they act as a support system for the text, relaying the message twice: once in text and once as an image. Music adds a third element, with some of the scenes having site specific, association inducing sounds. The multimodality of the project simply compounds the original meaning of the text- hoping to engender sympathetic feelings in the audience.


Exquisite Copse: Neil Jenkins 2005

Exquisite Copse takes words and turns them into imagery while maintaining and manipulating their original meaning. The user decides what word is used from one of five texts and the copse-maker “grows” limbs of the tree based off of what words will work with the words chosen. The viewer will need to try a couple different words to fully comprehend the complexity of the piece- some trees only grow so much (whiting, Alice in Wonderland) where as others will create a screen full of trees. Color assists with the text’s transition to image, as does the word overlap and angles.

So- not as sold on the frame as I was. I’ll keep with it, do more detail, shading, etc. Right now the bits from the tale (harp, bread, bones, goose) are just floating, but my goal is to make them blend in with the vines. 

Tossing around the idea of making this semi-3d… where the leaves and such leap off the page… I’ll have to print it out and see how I like it. 

Hey look, it's an artist's statement!

“A picture is worth a thousand words”- well, this semester I strove to make my pieces say more. As both an English major and Art Studio major, for me the worlds of literature and art are forever intertwined. (Poetry, prose, and storytelling are as near and dear to me as my wacom, microns, and India ink*). I grew up surrounded by stories and have been inspired by them and their creators my whole life. From Australian author/illustrator Graeme Base to anonymous 11th Century French medieval lais, I am inspired by artists who are able to visually represent a story through their work.  Alphonse Mucha, James Jacques Joseph Tissot, and Sylvia Ji are just a few personal inspirations who have achieved this in their work.

This semester I sought to challenge myself, to push my work and processes out of my comfort zone. While experimenting with new painting techniques, other programs, and further combination of digital with traditional media, I also aimed to further combine literature and art the way my inspirations have. I wanted to reach a level of visual story telling that my work has yet to achieve, a kind of narrative illustration. To this point, my pieces have mainly focused on visual character development. This time I incorporated environments, key themes and elements, and a ranging cast of characters. My goal is for the viewer to follow the storytelling throughout the image and perhaps find a new twist on an old tale.

So why fairytales? Ultimately I want to progress to telling my own stories in my work, introducing my own characters, plot, and lore. But for the purposes of this exploration, I chose some childhood favorites: Jack the Giant Killer, 12 Months (a Czechoslovakian Cinderella), Marie de France’s Laustic, the Nightingale, and UNNAMED. While not the most famous of tales, their elements and storylines are universal enough that I am able to test my ability to transpose “Once upon a time” into “Once upon a painting.”  

I am continuing to work with visual character development, but hope to progress further with the illustration of my personal written work in the future. As both writer and artist, there is no end to the worlds, people, and happenings I can explore and I look forward to introducing them to you.

*even necessary?


What have I achieved in regards to the contract I wrote at the beginning of the semester?

Artistic Achievements:

Understand narrative imagery better? check- also I better understand the variants of illustration and where in that category I want to fall

Technique advancement- I used backgrounds in most of my pieces and varied between figures (male and female) as well as animals, objects, and weather. I feel rather successful in that regard- I painted guys. I never do that!!

Comfort Zone- hark to that ^ I experimented with painting techniques (that grass! that snow!!) as well as unfamiliar subject matter. I also used illustrator and flash in conjunction with Photoshop to achieve the end results I desired. I didn’t experiment with colors all that much, however. I think I stayed pretty close to the “true” colors- though with Laustic I tried to pick colors that were representational of the characters.

Project One:

While I did not necessarily stick to the contract in this sense, as I deviated from my original five choices, I did create a series of narrative images with a fairy tale focus. I feel that I was able to successfully represent key themes and persons/objects of each tale.

1. Jack the Giant Killer


2. the Nightingale


3. the 12 Months



4. Laustic


Project 2:

My original intent was rather vague- but ultimately I feel that I fulfilled and expanded the idea. Originally I wanted an interactive constellation “game” which would allow the user to interact with various figures or objects of my own making. In the end, I created an interactive brainstorm of my original characters and their realms. This is a project I can and will continue to expand into the future.

The Observatory

Rhizome Project:

The site changed so I was unable to host the exhibition there, so I hosted it here.


Yeeeaahhhh… not quite. As I worked, especially for Project 1, I found myself getting burnt out of my images. I couldn’t focus or I got extremely frustrated. There were points when I wanted to stop the piece altogether and start over or never see it again. When that happened the first time, I threw my schedule out the door. I was working on all the pieces at once- rotating as I got frustrated or hit a wall artistically. I learned that sometimes leaving a piece alone would save it from for me.

Things to Note:

I learned a lot about painting and technique this semester. I experimented with programs and subject matter with which I had never experimented previously. I had fun, which is surprising to some extent. I was able to keep these projects something I was interested in despite having a deadline (cough cough) and was able to work my way through the majority of my projects. I actually managed to come to terms with Flash! Which excites me! And overall, I feel like I know know my media a bit better and I feel like I have a grasp on where I want to go artistically.