Hey there. I’m going to start this off by giving you a little visualization of my life at the current moment.
I am sitting on a cold, concrete floor in the shittiest, run-down hall New Mexico State University has to offer their beloved art students. The Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition is in less then two weeks and I am about to paint the floor flat grey in the hopes that it will make my peers and I look like we have it together. I’m surrounded by a mess of smelly wrapping paper, stuffed animals, school uniforms, Christmas trees and dildos- I’m watching Coryn dissect parts of her past and turn it into art. She’s installing her massive and slightly f***ed up exhibition, while I sit here and hyperventilate because my four life-sized, butt-naked, self-portraits are back in the painting studio all alone.
In this blog post, I am going to give you a glimpse into the ideas behind the series of work I have been making over the last semester that will be on display November 30th.
Although Coryn’s work is physically the opposite of mine, the basis of examining parts of our history, our identities, is what links our work and similarly enough, many other artists. The spark of inspiration that led into what is now my thesis work was no light bulb, instead it was more like a soggy, slap in the face that happens when you flop into Lake Tahoe after a long night of partying. I had a realization that I was bobbing in and out of two very different desires, for example; wanting to be an enlightened, healthy yogi-type and wanting to participate in illegal forest raves until the sun comes up partier-type. I began thinking about the patterns I had created for myself in the last year or so and how I often reach the peak of feeling self-aware and then flip to feeling like a piece of garbage. Pursuing this idea, I really started thinking more deeply about how I switch back and forth between the opposites and uncovered the transition points. I broke down this cycle into four parts; ignorant desires, destructive consequences, desperate realizations, and enlightening progress- a messy, emotional loop.
I originally visioned these four phases as the seasons, naturally because my name is Autumn, I thought it was clever. After researching a bit about cycles of four, I became quite interested in the idea of the Zia symbol and the medicine wheel. My dad had given me a book, The Seven Arrows by Huemeyohsys Storm, right after I had just slightly developed this new concept. The information about the medicine wheel in this book kind of blew my mind; everything I had been contemplating for my new body of work, was being described almost parallel in relation to the medicine wheel (which I had known nothing about.) This particular moment in time- the end of the summer into the beginning of fall- was very strange. Synchronizations and “coincidences” were becoming so common that I wasn’t even surprised by all of the weird shit constantly happening. This book showing up at this time was just one of them. I thought it was maybe some kind of sign that I was onto something by mentally anatomizing my deepest struggles for a school project.
In the simplest terms, I decided to convey a cycle of personal, emotional ups and downs through painting. My next struggle and probably the most difficult was figuring out how to represent each emotional phase with a physical object, because you can’t feel a painting right? I knew it had to be me, so I began taking photos until something clicked with a specific phase. Oh and let me remind you, since it’s not necessarily about something physical- it’s about those feelings deep in your chest when things are really good or really bad, any sort of material object or scenery would direct the painting in a material-world direction and away from the spiritual-realm I am trying to reach. There was this realization that I had subconsciously left myself with no choice but to suck it up and paint my own naked body, four times for my graduating thesis show. I could go into how awkward it was to start these paintings in a classroom for all my peers to see and ultimately the thought of people’s reactions at the BFA show, but I won’t because I’m sure you can imagine.
I’m really not trying to get cheesy here, but I will say that taking on this type of challenge has helped me understand myself a little more. I also learned that self-timer photo shoots are tiring, painting your own nipples is strange, and that in fact, there is nothing wrong with a naked body.
If you want to check out this body of work in person it will be on display at the BFA/MFA exhibition, “re:if I,” November 30th, 6-9pm in Wells Hall on the NMSU campus, Las Cruces, NM. Photos and official artist statement will be added to my website after the exhibition.
If you are interested in the event page for the exhibition (click here).
If you want to check out my friend Coryn’s work (click here).