About six months ago, I took a class that was to introduce you to the different kinds of art that can be interdisciplinary (which is almost anything). Half the class was writing/English based, the other on visual arts.
Cover Up was the result of my first – and only – performance art.
My artist’s statement gives you a brief idea of what I was going for.
“For my performance art pieces, I wanted to focus on the idea of covering up negative thoughts. On each canvas there were words written in black that represent what people have thought about themselves or have had said to them. Having people throw colored paint over the canvas was a way of releasing the negative thoughts that they had about themselves and making something beautiful out of something ugly. Targeting the words that they hated the most, they began their assault on the canvas. After the words were covered, they used the paint to completely bury the negative words under the thick layers – banishing them from memory. Vinyl covered the canvas in certain areas that would later be pulled off to say the words: enough, loved, and beautiful – the things that people wanted and or needed to hear the most.
Just carrying around these canvases made me uncomfortable. That alone is a testament to the weight that these words carry. The canvas that has “beautiful” on it was perhaps the one that I felt was the one that I almost couldn’t look at. Before the paint was covering the words, I would find myself trying to hide them or receiving glares for the words that I was taking into public. These negative thoughts can weigh heavily on someone, this series of actions was meant to go against those thoughts and create something colorful and vibrant that would leave behind only the word that truly mattered. “
Perhaps the most difficult thing about this project, was holding onto them before they were covered. I have never felt so uncomfortable being in a public space before. These are some of the worst words that I could think of – and they are all ones that I hear almost everyday at work or even while I was in classes.
I felt that even just the aspect of having the signs in public was really important. Mainly because these are words that just come out of our mouths, so they don’t seem that bad, but when placed on a canvas it makes them real – makes them permanent. That’s the effect that is happening within each person though when the words are directed at them.
I chose the location of each of the canvases very specifically and this one was one that I decided to do at work. I wanted to have my coworkers work with me on this to make it special. This particular canvas is important to the people that I work with because the words are ones that really resonate with us. We often hear that we aren’t good enough or that we need to better ourselves because we “only work at McDonald’s”. This was our way of saying “Don’t look down on us.” In no way am I ashamed of the fact that I work at McDonald’s. It allowed me to go through school and to become the person that I am now. Because of the job that I had, I was able to get my BA and graduate debt free. Getting to meet the most awesome people in the world, well, that’s an added perk.
This location was one of my favorites and I know that my coworkers were excited to see the thing that they had been apart of.
And they should be really proud, because this is absolutely beautiful.
We are Enough
This canvas is the one that made me the most uncomfortable – to carry and to do. For this one, I mainly recruited family and friends. I didn’t want to make people look at this, especially with the location of this one. I called this one my rated “R” canvas – so of course I needed to take it to one of the biggest parks in Everett, WA.
I have had a strained relationship with some of the people in the photos above, and this was something that was fun for us to do together. A lot of people didn’t understand why this canvas meant the most to me and this is why. Not only was it because we were covering up some of the worst words in the dictionary, but also because we were able to make something that looks like this together.
It may be because my family worked on this, but it is the universal favorite. Everyone really likes this one, and it’s easy to see why.
We are Beautiful.
The last canvas is probably the worst documented through photo. This one was done in my neighborhood – and nobody wanted to participate, so my sister and I ended up doing most of the canvas together, hence the reason why I added random photos that were taken. And after two canvases, Morgan still couldn’t figure out how to keep the paint off her face and out of her hair – but at least it matches!
This one is one of my favorites also because I was able to do it with my sister. This whole project was really made possible because I had her helping me through the whole thing. She was with me when I put up and tore down each canvas, she poured almost all the paint, she helped me pick colors – she literally helped me do everything but come up with the project idea. She was a photographer, paint thrower, and one of the organizers and I appreciate her help so much.
This canvas is another one that gained a lot of attention for the different array of colors – and it is a pattern on this canvas that appears as the cover of my first chapbook, Laments.
We are Loved.
This project means a lot to me because I was able to create a place where people could go against the thing that made them uncomfortable. I wanted people to be able to see more of themselves than what people made them feel. That was the purpose of Cover Up.
You are Enough.
You are Beautiful.
You are Loved.