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.”


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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