Testing Limitations

“Make an installation.”

That was my assignment, one for which I had two weeks and no budget. I’m an artist most comfortable with two-dimensional and digital arts. I barely ever even make sculptures, and installations have to be aware of their space in ways that are different from sculptures.

“Make an installation.”

Okay.

My last day of high school, I glued Starburst wrappers to the cover of my yearbook. It was fun, and so since then I tend to save any candy wrappers and other conveniently collage-able materials I come across. I had quite a collection.

The university newspaper is free every week. I love using it for collage, since there’s something delightfully evil feeling about chopping apart something called “The Universe.”

I had a few cardboard boxes and some sidewalk chalk. Family members helped me get more boxes. I grabbed some glitter while looking for school supplies.

The rest–bells, a flashlight, a beanie–were already in my possession.

The result was a miniature city, plastered with the side effects of a college student’s life. Viewers could go round to the backdrop and sit against the wings,  sweep the flashlight over everything and run across a cactus drawn in glitter on the side of one “building.”

The title was “Destroying the Universe to Build a City of Stars.” I made it to represent my perception of the noise and complexity of university and city life, when I’m unused to both.

It doesn’t exist anymore. It’s a handful of photos on my phone, a number in a grade book. Boxes in the recycling bin. Memory. I don’t even know if I did all that well. There were dozens of little ways I would have changed it, rearranged the setup, altered the collage work, now that I’ve done it once.

But the point of the class I did it for isn’t specifically to make a good installation. It’s to test my limitations as an artist, all the ways that I can use concept and theory. It’s to learn.

I think life could use more experiences like that.

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