Conceptual Basis for My Senior Thesis

23Feb09

Abstract IvyThe thought of the senior thesis project is what keeps junior design students up at night. At least, that’s how it was for me. I began thinking/worrying about this project long before I had any idea what I was going to do, which, by the way, was about 90% of the cause of my worry.

As often happens in artistic endeavors, life intervened and gave me something to think about and center my thoughts on for a while.

My grandfather passed away last August, right at the beginning of the Fall semester, almost ten years after my grandmother. This event put several thoughts immediately in my mind, mainly nostalgic thoughts from my childhood. I remembered simpler times in my life, when I wasn’t trying to juggle family, friends, work and school, wondering which ball I was going to drop next. And I wished for those worry-free, idyllic days of irresponsibility.

This line of thought, in the beginning, lead me to focus completely on nature and of the peace/balance that can be found there, in contrast with the hectic, overcrowded schedule I, and so many others, face everyday. Thinking about this as a visual concept, I choose to implement symbolic imagery in the form of a circle. Specifically a ring of wire circles overgrown with live ivy plants.

As my thought process developed, I began to focus more on this struggle for balance and the race against time that we all have to face at one time or another. For some of us it feels like its more of a daily battle.

How did we find ourselves so over-extended? Why are we so busy?

When I’m being honest with myself, I know the answer: I’m busy because I want to be. I don’t like it when I don’t have anything to do. I don’t like it when I’ve only got a couple of things to do. I want to have a full calender.

It’s nice to take a break every now and then, of course, but stretch that out for more than a week and I just start to feel useless. So now the question becomes: how do we balance our busy/overextended lives?

This is where the visual symbol of the circle comes back into play. It is loaded with idealized thoughts of natural harmony, perfection and balance. It is also, as far as I can tell, rather impossible to attain living in today’s world. The best we can do is to order our lives in ways that are meaningful to ourselves.

In ordering our lives we arrange certain pieces to fit in such a way as to achieve our own personal balance. For example, we prioritize our deadlines and try to establish systems of order for relationships, work, faith, recreation, etc. We attempt to construct our own harmonious circles using the pieces that we already choose to include in our lives.

Visually this line of thought is set in contrast to the circles of ivy, by circles constructed of rectangular pieces of acrylic/plexiglass. These acrylic pieces are linear and man-made, thus inherently opposite of the natural, harmonious circle of ivy plants. Yet the pieces are arranged and ordered in such a way as to fill the void left by the circles of ivy with an imperfect sphere of acrylic.Though the acrylic pieces are linear and will never form a perfect circle, each piece is
carefully placed, resulting in a complex, disjointed sphere which is interesting and beautiful in its own right. Some pieces are frosted, some are shiny and completely clear. No piece is exactly the same, but each piece is intentionally placed to create a balanced three-dimensional sphere.

The ideal of perfect harmony is beautiful and admirable, but also to a large degree, unattainable. My only conclusion is to offer the theory that although life is full of complications, your own version of ‘peace’ or even ‘satisfaction’ depends on how you place all your pieces together.

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