Monday, April 5, 2010

Sarah Carmen presents Senior Thesis Show

A few years ago I thought I had a basic understanding of “art” but as a result of listening actively and looking deeply, of concentrating intently as various students described their work, I’ve realized that art is a small word holding an entire world of meanings.

Is art about what I see or about a practice of exploring materials and processes? Maybe it’s about discovering relationships and linking science with thought or past with present. Maybe it’s about making people slow down and put words to their responses as their eyes or even hands explore an object or idea.

Maybe, all I know is maybe so it’s time to work at that definition some more. It’s time for Alfred University’s 2010 Senior Thesis Shows. All seniors in Alfred University’s School of Art and Design create a thesis and present work to explore that thesis - a senior show. Every student will have a different thesis and will present their answers in different ways – using clay, paint, rocks, dirt, glass, paper, gesso, time, fur, wood, dance, sound, machines and whatever other material seems to suit the thesis. The shows will be held on Saturday, May 8. The opening reception is from 4-7 pm and you’re invited. Bring a friend and share rides. Parking is hard to find.

In preparation for the shows, I spoke with Sarah Carmen. Sarah’s major is Art and Design with a concentration in photography and a minor in Education. Sarah came to Alfred to study art and she always intended to include education in her program but she didn’t jump into photography until she signed up for classes for a semester overseas in Scotland last year.

She filled out paperwork choosing graphic design as her course work while in Scotland. As soon as she saw those words on the paper she realized that she wasn’t a bit interested in graphic design. She wanted to study photography. She changed the answer and has been snapping up antique cameras and photos on 2 continents. “Art has been heaven ever since,” according to Sarah.

Sarah’s camera of choice is a circa 1950 Ansco Flex medium format camera. It has 2 lenses, one for her to frame her image and the other to expose light to the film. She can’t get film for this camera so she buys black and white Kodak 120mm film and takes it off the spool to rewind it onto other spools that will actually fit inside the camera. The process of loading film takes her about 30 minutes.

Sarah has a friend, a psychology student, who understands Sarah’s language of photography. She knows how to stand and how to look to capture the aspect of the setting that Sarah wants in her photo. That’s an uncommon skill, she says.
Sarah’s project involves using her photos as well as photos she has found and copied and manipulating them by cutting them, changing the textures, blowing them up and changing them.

One of her projects in Scotland was to present a single photo 50 different ways. She really liked that project and doing it made her stretch her understanding of images. When she returned from Scotland she brought that challenge with her and has spent her senior year manipulating photos in even more ways. While working with photos this way she realized that the processes made her photos more like her memories of Scotland.

“The mind sheds memories,” said Sarah. “Our minds take in an image through our eyes but change that image to fill it in with textures and related experiences – current or from other time periods. Our minds work on those images, superimposing some parts and erasing others but we think those are the images we really saw.”

Sarah makes copies of her images and then puts them on heavy, gesso-coated paper and then washes off the paper to reveal grainy images on the large sheets. Photographic representation of mind-fuzzed memories. She also layers photos in light boxes putting several images on plastic or glass and piling them up in groupings that seem related to her.

The light boxes will be small and the washed images will be huge and they will all represent Sarah’s mind and memory and her sense of “heaven” in a space shared with Rayanna Bump’s stained-glass show in Harder Hall on the second floor painting area.

No comments: