Fall Research Statement for Senior Thesis

Because human beings are participating in an industrial food system that values quantity over quality, we are linking together a chain of suffering that is destroying our spiritual connection to nature. Through shopping locally, consumers gain a human experience that strengthens their connections to food and the world around them.

This fall, I will focus on landscape painting through an array of different painting techniques. One technique I have explored thus far is collage. My most recent painting, “Factory Farm,” is a landscape made by collaging my own meat receipts with acrylic medium and paint. By utilizing the receipt, the end result of the industrial process, I wanted to show that, as consumers, we are helping to build these factory farms by buying into the system. I will continue to use the receipt because it is versatile; it can be folded to look like a tile of a roof or torn and layered to look like rough terrain. Collaging receipts into factory farm and agricultural landscapes is a technique I will explore further this fall.

Another technique I will study is that of fluidity and form. Drawing inspiration from artists like Claire Sherman and Brendan Monroe, landscape painters who paint in this fashion, I will learn how to layer blocks of color without blending. This style of painting reflects a Buddhist concept that I have been exploring through other work. The idea is that everything in the universe is in a state of flux; nothing is permanent. Therefore, everything is constantly shifting and decaying. In order to create a fluid effect, I will use oil paint with an impasto medium. I will also focus on using only sedimentary colors, which have larger particles that can be suspended in a medium. As far as subject matter for these paintings, I plan to combine images of farm animals that I photographed at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY, a place where rescued factory farmed animals live out their lives in peace, with the shapes of ink found at the end of receipt paper rolls. In the past, I have taken the “shock” approach of showing the cruelty inside factory farms, but realized it tends to back people into a corner. Ultimately, I would like to start a two-way conversation about this sensitive topic rather than making my audience feel guilty.

Other plans I have involve rotting fruits and vegetables onto canvas or paper in the shape of mandalas. In Buddhism, mandalas represent the impermanence of life and futility of attachment. They are traditionally made by groups of Tibetan monks using sand, which upon completion are scattered into a nearby river or lake as a blessing. The process of creating these intricate designs is meant for quieting mind chatter. Although I am not involved in the traditional mandala-making process, my goal is to represent impermanence. After I place the fruits or vegetables onto the desired surface, they will change form and decay over time. Eventually, I scrape the fruit or vegetable off of the surface to reveal a print underneath. Over time, the pigments of the prints will also fade. What I am currently interested in is how organic food rots compared to non-organic, and which type of surfaces work best for these experiments.

The ideal response from my audience would include being drawn into the painting, having an emotional connection to the content without being offended, and then walking away with a desire to educate themselves about contemporary food practices.

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