Accumulation (2016)

Posted on: April 19, 2016
Views: 2097


Accumulation explores the intra- and interpersonal development of self through five culturally constructed identity labels that have been applied, but are not specific to me: child, woman, artist, lover, and depressive. The identities manifest as masks, each a three-dimensional print of my face made of paper and glue. This combination of materials produces a sort of translucent white skin, yet their inherent imperfections (much like those of a human) disqualify them as "blank." Each is then individually embedded with found objects of significance to its history. As every character, I perform a series of five everyday tasks. My props do not vary; these simple actions are only made unique or extraordinary by the energy contained within the masks. During exhibition, viewers are welcomed to try the masks on so they may experience their energies firsthand. Accompanying the masks is a series of intaglio self-portraits tiling the adjacent wall. The first print is a photograph, burned into the copper matrix by a laser cutter. Every following print is a direct manipulation of the one preceding it. Through accumulation and destruction of mark, I assist the staticky black figure in its warping and evolution.

Raven Lynn Zeh

View ProfileConnect

BFA Student

Major: Printmaking

Graduation Year: 2016

Artist Statement:

If I am an artist, it is only because I ask questions. I ask incessant questions. If I am an artist, it is only because of the nonsensical nature of the society I live in.

In my work, I examine the human condition by taking aspects of my own identity and examining them in a larger socio-cultural context using traditional and nontraditional forms of print, performance, and installation. It is important for us to divorce the human condition from cultural conditioning, so I push the borders of my viewers comfortability in order to encourage them to question the inception of their discomfort. I believe it is through questioning that we begin to break down the accepted “truths” of our society.

In the words of Rumi, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” By turning inwards and making work to address what I find there, I am pulling inspiration directly from my cultural conditioning and my condition of being. The unabridged questions I ask myself are accessible to my audience because we share a culture (on some scale) and are all suffering from the human condition. The raw, confessional nature of my work lessens the feelings of terrible dissociation and isolation which come inevitably as a side effect of being trapped in a human body.

Body itself is a highly significant factor in my artistic practice. If I can relate to a human being on no other level, we still share the experience of having a human body. It is a necessary tool for action and vessel for the soul. As a cultural icon, it holds heavy allusions to self-image and sexuality. In performances, I use my body as a prototypical form so viewers may “insert your body here,” allowing them to further empathize with the conditions the body endures over an allotted span of time. I often work on large scales and in real space to allow myself to be physically (and therefore, spiritually) involved. I make body prints in a variety of media, both two- and three-dimensionally. Discomfort itself is a bodily sensation. My challenge as a maker is to simultaneously capitalize on the uncomfortable and provide my viewers a space where they may remove themselves one step from discomfort to ask “why?”