Throughout this second year of this course I have looked at less topics than first year, but have analysed ideas and concepts more deeply in ways I found difficult the previous year, due to lack of experience and taking in new challenging ideas. This year has given me a more specific topic to explore for my dissertation in my final year which is the key outcome of constellation. I have become more aware of things around me, how subjects link back to my subject area of Fine Art, and how they relate to society and our surroundings. I have also worked amongst fellow students to discuss our opinions, which is a good way for me to decide on my own views on particular topics and to think about other peoples in relation to this, as well as gaining confidence in my views and discussing them with others. I have not had much experience in the analytical and theoretical side to fine art and other topics before so I found constellation very challenging, and still do. However, the biggest achievement from doing this part of the course has been to do with my actually physical work, relating the topics to objects I am familiar with as well as work I make. This is a really good way to start analysing my surroundings and my own artwork more greatly.
In the first term I chose ‘Stuff: Objects and Materiality’, which I was interested in as it isn’t a subject I have ever explored before, and I feel it has a strong link to my practice when analysing objects, sculptures and paintings. This subject also followed on well from looking at advertising and materialism, which I explored in the first year. We analysed sexism, feminism, visual culture, architecture, design and many other linking topics. At this time I wrote an essay about clothing and fashion items and how it may determine a persons identity and personality, as well as how people rely on these items in modern society. I had never before even thought about this subject so it was interesting to deeply think about a subject that constantly surrounds me but that I hadn’t really explored before. This made me more aware of, and in touch with, the things, people and objects around me.
In ‘Stuff: Objects and Materiality’ we explored transitional objects, which is a term usually used to describe objects that infants rely on to help separation anxiety from their parents, and developing into independent children. This time between infancy and childhood can lead to objects being used for support through times of struggle such as new experiences or being separated from their parents. Examples of this could be a blanket, a teddy or favourite toy. However, this term does not just relate to children but to people of all ages – objects that bring back emotions from a happier time, jewellery that relate to a friend or family member, or technology such as mobile phones that create a barrier of safety in new situations. This made me think about objects that I have that are used in this way, such as a necklace my twin and I both have from our mum, that make us feel safe when away at uni. We also looked at how objects may be used in ways that are opposing to the original purpose of them. I found that I use a mug I bought on a trip to Greece as a painting pot, which gives me memories of that place, making it a transitional objects as well. Blog post about this: https://gracecupper2.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/constellation-stuff-objects-and-materiality/. Thinking of objects in relationship to mood, identity and experience was very interesting to me.
We also explored whether the objects we own make us who we are, whether they are just a part of our identity, or neither. I came to a conclusion that the objects we own and rely on seem to make up a part of who we are as individuals, and may even lead to acting in different ways depending on them. This also links to Fine Art, as the things we make become an important part of our identity, using our personality through expression and making things that are unique to ourselves. This made me analyse the work I was making this year on my own experiences, recording texts and drawings of things and subjects around me. I found it quite a personal topic to explore, putting a piece of myself out there for people to read and view. However, I felt in unleashed a part of me usually hidden, making me more aware of my surroundings and thinking about how I feel and experiences things more deeply. This lead to me questioning why I was enjoying this, what is it about me that makes me creative or inspired by art? And are there common factors between people who are creative that lead to becoming artists.
From all these thoughts I came to an idea for my dissertation which has lead onto the dissertation proposal I have just completed. Comparing factors that might contribute to creativity such as biological trait, mental illness, external factors and experience, I have analysed important arguments in this topic. The title is –Is there a significant link between high levels of creativity and mental illness or mood disorders in the making of art? – which mainly focuses on the influence of mental illness in the creative process and whether it can make people creative, or whether being artistic can lead to mental illness.This is due to things I have read, heard or experienced about the idea that there seems to be a higher number of people who suffer from mental health issues within the subject of Art. This also may include poets, writers and musicians. This is such a broad topic to analyse and that’s why I am passionate about creating a dissertation on my findings and coming up with my own conclusion.
To summarise, I would say constellation this year has really opened my eyes to new topics, but also lead me away from the set options to a specific topic that inspires me. Although I am pleased to have found a final subject matter, it is really interesting to relate all the things back to each other and compare and contrast certain ideas and opinions. Advertising, fashion, objects, materials, identity and expression all link to each other in ways that help to influence the final dissertation and that is why it has been a rewarding experience having the push to think about these things further throughout the course.