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Small Leaks Will Sink Great Ships

Inspired by a fortune cookie

When addressing the fortune, I focused on the meanings of “leak”, finding the “secret information” aspect of the meaning particularly interesting. In my sketchbook, I listed the biggest “small leaks” from my time such as the Me Too movement, Edward Snowden, the Boston Globe in regards to the Catholic Church, and the Black Lives Matter movement. I observed the relationship that these “small leaks” have is that they are responses to gross abuses of power. Those responsible for the abuses of power are “the great ships”. An example of mass ideological responses to abuses of power is the French Revolution which we can witness through Romantic art which focused on independence, genius, originality, expression of internal feelings, dramatic lighting, more gestural brushstrokes, and identity. I was particularly inspired by Gustav Courbet’s self portrait, The Desperate, made when he was 24 and desperate to find himself. I too felt desperate to find myself. Through this series, I set out to find myself through self portraits which are about projecting one's identity.  


Returning to the phrase “small leak”, I wondered whether free associations are small leaks into the unconscious. From there I began making literal leaks of coffee and ink onto pages and used the psychological phenomenon of Pareidollia to interpret the beginnings of faces to construct my self portraits. Throughout the process I experimented with coffee, ink, pen, chalk pastel, crayon, watercolor, craft paint, used book paper, pencil, paper towel, inkblot folding, adobe photoshop, exacto knife, combs, and bleach spray. I pushed myself to challenge my preconceived notions of how a self portrait should represent itself. Through experimentation and distortion, I distanced myself more from formal self representations while still incorporating some traditional Romantic elements like the emphasis on identity, self-expression, and strong lights/darks.


To Romantic artists like Gustav Courbet and Eugene Delacroix, the “great ships” were the French Monarchy and Neoclassicism. To me, the “great ships” are the now traditional art of Romanticism and its demeaning beliefs towards women and women of color especially. They believed women incapable of rationality and self-expression in extension. Women could only exist in art as female nudes which was again nothing to do with the woman’s expression and everything to do with the expression of the male artist’s sexuality. I want to be my own creator capable of defining myself to the world.

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