Thursday, November 21, 2013

Time as an Element: Time Heals All Things

"Time Heals All Things" -- wood, sand, acrylic, miscellaneous
Original ideas
     For our third project in Art III, we had only one guideline: incorporate time as an element. Inspired by someone else's use of butterflies, my first idea combined chromatography and metal working to create a butterfly sculpture. The wings would be filter paper with marker, and over time water would marble the colors. I also thought of making a giant hourglass and gluing random knick-knacks and whatnot to the bottom, so as time passed the sand would cover them as if they'd been erased by time. In thinking about this principle, I stumbled on my final idea. Time can erase memories in a negative sense, but the passage of time is also very healing. As time goes on, our anger, pain, and loss are soothed, glossed over, and forgotten. Including an interactive and meditative aspect in my project would allow each person to make it his own and hopefully gain something from the experience.
Staining the frame
Nailing the frame together
     In designing this piece, I had to come from an unusual direction. Normally the focus in creating art is making it as visually appealing as possible; this time, I had to look at it from an engineering angle. I wanted people to be able to write in the sand and have their pictures and images washed away, but this meant that I had to have a source of the water and a way for it to run off. The containers had to be waterproof, but also have an aesthetic element. After some planning, I decided on a design that had a box frame with mesh on the bottom to drain the water placed above a 9x9 cake pan which would hold the water. I would then attach a fountain and nail holes in a piece of plastic tubing to disperse the water over the width of the box. I balanced the frame at an angle to the cake pan so the water would drain downhill. 
"You may delay, but time will not"
 -- Ben Franklin
     To make the frame more visually appealing, I painted three quotes on the sides: "Time heals all," "'Time takes all, whether you want it to or not' -- Stephen King," and "'You may delay, but time will not' -- Ben Franklin" in white acrylic paint and then stained over the whole thing. Because acrylic paint is water based and the wood stain I used was oil based, the white paint shone through the dark stain to reveal the words. In total materials, I used: four 9-inch-long pieces of wood, nails (and a hammer), staples (and a staple gun), plastic mesh, Weldbond glue, dark walnut stain, white acrylic paint, sand from a baseball field and a volleyball court, PVC pipe, two widths of plastic tubing, a 9x9 cake pan, duct tape, black spray paint, black acrylic paint, black rubber spray paint, foam board, packing tape, a water pump, and water. After all the effort I put into making this project, my original idea failed. The grain of the mesh wasn't fine enough to hold sand the right size; the sand I ended up using was too big to be moved by the water. To salvage the principles I was trying to portray, I turned to water color. Instead of moving the sand itself, I encourage people to paint on top of it. The water eventually would wash it away. This failure demonstrates the risks I took in making "Time Heals All Things." Starting this project, I was creating something that had never been tried before. I had to be innovative with my materials, taking multiple trips to hardware, grocery, and craft stores to find the perfect fountain or cake pan. I had to redo things several times -- spray painting things made them sticky, and nailing holes in plastic didn't work as well as using an Xacto knife. After much trial and error, my final project emerged. And it worked!