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BFA in Painting '21, Herron School of Art & Design

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Collecting is a part of human nature that is observed across every demographic of people, in every time and culture. Not all collections are physical, however, and some are only held in our memories. The relationship between the collection of memories and the collection of items is what I explore in my painting through cut-out images of stuffed animals. My work focuses on how our physical collections of items both preserve our memories and construct our identities. 

My decision to explore these questions through stuffed animals was led by a few different motives (one being they are simply just fun to paint), but I mostly believe them to be the best representation of a sentimental object. They represent a sort of emotional sponge of memories to me, and many adults, whether they collect them or not, can at least relate to that concept. Many people had a toy or something similar that was the object of their affection through their early childhood, which is known in child psychology as a “transitional object,” which has been established to be one of the most important steps in the development of personhood and identity.. It’s a generally universally relatable concept for so many individuals. Stuffed animals encapsulate this idea of memories and objects and self-identity being so intertwined together. 

In my view, painting these huge, cut-out teddy bears gives them some significance to the viewer that they might not otherwise have viewing the actual source items. Choosing to paint them at a large scale and cut-out without any background makes us consider them and brings them that importance. I’m painting these bears to remember and to be remembered. 

We collect and own and keep to create a legacy, to affirm our identity, to leave something physical behind. I’m painting to create a new legacy for myself. I want to be remembered, and I want to remember.

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