I went in at the beginning of a new unit and they were starting on the new idea of storytelling and creating artworks that tell a story.
They were looking at some traditional art forms that do this such as shrines and retablos. I found some interesting ex voto retablo, including some by Frida Kahlo. They tell the story of a tragic event, with a picture of the saint that they feel saved them from this.
I also found some old woodcut retablo images
Inspired by this I began designing a similar image. I was going to use an image of my Dad in the hospital bed and Nina Simone as the saint. I am not religous and her music has helped me through hard times. In the end I decided just to focus on Nina in the style of the wood block retablo.
I decided not to go any further with this as my source image was not very good. I may come back to the idea.
After this I brainstormed lots of ideas about my story and decided I wanted to represent my life as different identities I've had living in different places. Although I have not been completely different, each place I've lived have been very different to one another, and to some extent, I've been a different person in each place.
This idea of multiple identities I later realised is very much a post-modern one. In traditional society and later in modernist times, roles were more or less defined by class, place of birth occupation or gender. The beginning of the mind shift that changed these roles was Deconstruction from the late 1960's, developed by Jacques Derrida, based on the concept that ideas are unfixed, unstable, inter-reliant and inherently contradictory, and can therefore subvert themselves (Phillips, 2013). When this idea is applied to identity, and it is our own ideas that are unfixed, the multiple identities many of us experience can become in sharp contrast to one another.
I am aware that I am a person with a true post-modern, shifting and uncertain identity. The place where I grew up is in great contrast to this. There are many people there (the Isle of Wight) who live their lives on much more certain terms. They identify themselves as being from that place, some quite strongly. I have never felt this certainty in my identity as I never felt from there, being born in London and not having the same network of extended family around me as other people there had.
The Isle of Wight is not a place with a lot of social mobility, there are not many professional opportunities there. For many they find a role that enables them to stay there, and they stay in that role. However, even as a teenager I was not happy with that and was taught to want and aim for more. While this, of course, I am grateful for now, it often set me apart from the community I grew up in, making me uncertain about my identity.
My family were middle class, the Isle of Wight is not, it was not cool to be middle class in the 90's! This was another aspect of my identity which I would not accept and moved onto travellers sites, which defied social classes and lived outside of society for 6 years. This was a big shift in identity, perhaps could be interpreted as my search for an identity, after feeling uncertain about myself as a teenager.
I moved again after this, into different roles, different places in society and later different countries. I am now an expat, and feeling uncomfortable with this identity at times.
I have explored this in more detail in other places and don't want to put too much of this personal exploration here.
However, it has put me onto a path of exploring this theme through my artwork.
An artist I have looked at who has created works juxtaposing a wide array of images and styles is David Salle. He rejected the coherent styles of the past. In this example he uses print, lithograph and woodcut:
Postmodernism is a broad term encasing a wide range of art movements, including blurring the boundaries between high culture and mass or popular culture. Salle regularly explores many of these styles and mediums of art within one work, this piece, Fast and Slow, combines print techniques, and textures when juxtaposing images together, creating a truly post-modern image (Tate.org.uk, 2016).
As a starting point I decided to explore five relatively simple subjects that represent each place. I brainstormed a lot of different ideas and found a recurring theme of plants. I also want to capture a bit of the character of each place as well through colours and style of composition.
This collage shows the subjects I chose which are all plants: a swiss cheese plant, pine trees, sunflowers, pink roses and palm trees. I've also included a few fabrics from the corresponding times of my life, giving a snapshot to my taste at the time and colours I may look at and pictures of my children.
Phillips, Sam, 2013. Isms, Understanding Modern Art. Bloomsbury: London
Tate.org.uk. (2016). Postmodernism. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/p/postmodernism [Accessed 31 May 2016].