In the shed, a few colors short of the rainbow

MISSING IMAGE

Material Information

Title:
In the shed, a few colors short of the rainbow
Physical Description:
Project in lieu of thesis
Creator:
Justus, Chisum Miles ( Dissertant )
Janowich, Ron ( Thesis advisor )
Heipp, Richard ( Reviewer )
Publisher:
College of Fine Arts, University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date:

Notes

Abstract:
In The Shed, A Few Colors Short of the Rainbow is a creative investigation of objects that dissects and deconstructs their function, appeal, and metaphorical possibilities when contextualized through an active intervention, manipulation and placement in a gallery setting. These utilitarian objects (primarily tools) embody concepts and relationships that suggest power struggles, polar opposites, contradictions and the point at which they collide to create self-dismantling occurrences. Altering and re-aestheticizing the object simultaneously contextualizes it and creates an accumulation of contradictions, as a result there is a constant back and forth shift in perception. The display exploits formal clashes such as rigid versus flaccid, playful versus violent, phallic versus feminine. My interventions create provocative, ambiguous, impotent, paralyzed, castrated, and weakened non-functional objects that are transcended to gain a new strength as they enter an Art discourse. I employ paint in an intense, frequently “garish”, manufactured color palette that is then contrasted with the inherently elegant forms and nuanced surfaces of the steel objects. They become buoyant, playful, poetic, sexual, sensual, and often pathetic in their new context. The objects are contingent to the setting and dependent on their treatment that determines their function or impotent lack thereof. The work is infused with narratives and metaphors that investigate sociological issues of gender, class, Art and their correlation. I choose utilitarian objects that are frequently associated with male specific activities and blue-collar work. I do so in order to more directly communicate notions of stereotypically masculine tendencies and those that may be considered “the lower class”, which normally have little interest in a fine art and/or intellectual discourse. The title, In the Shed, A Few Colors Short of the Rainbow, is taken from the two idioms: “not the sharpest tool in the shed” and “a few colors short of the rainbow”. Both sayings are used to portray lack of intelligence, common sense, and general ignorance. The two sayings combined decontextualize one another to take on a new meaning as an ironic and humorous approach. The title is fitting since the process of dipping the coloring onto these sculptures' and their development of form, took place in a 'tool shed' (my current studio). Their forms are morphed to attain a familiar strangeness. The confection like candy colors and sexually charged phallic forms are simultaneously pleasing and discomforting to the viewer. Ultimately the work embodies the physical and psychological formation/transformation of character that is dependent upon surrounding conditions, manipulations and experiences. By investigating these aspects of the human condition through common objects, this work presents a complex conjunction of personal experiences and references. Barriers between social class and bracketed art practice are blurred. Rigid sculpture is morphed with fluid paint, becoming an active collision that creates a dismantling yet complimentary occurrence for both painting and sculptural practice. Through the process, material, and context the object's intended form and function is transformed and transcended into a higher accountability.
General Note:
Painting and Drawing terminal project

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID:
AA00001591:00001


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Full Text






IN THE SHED, A FEW COLORS SHORT OF THE RAINBOW


By

CHISUM MILES JUSTUS







SUPERVISORY COMMITTEE:

RON JANOWICH, CHAIR
RICHARD HEIPP, MEMBER







A PROJECT IN LIEU OF THESIS PRESENTED TO THE COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF FINE ART

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2011































2011 Chisum Miles Justus































To my Mom
and in memory of Ron Stiles











ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


I thank my committee chair, Ron Janowich, for all his insight, support and invaluable

feedback. I thank my committee member, Richard Heipp, for continually challenging me to be

ambitious in my work. I thank Jerry Cutler for guiding me through the first years with his infinite

wisdom. I thank Celeste Roberge for her patience, sincerity, and interest in my work. I thank

Brad Smith for all his technical assistance in the construction of my work. Finally, I thank all my

peers (the cool painter kids plus D) that helped me haul these projects around; this would have

been impossible without you.









TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .................................................. ................. ........... 4

L IST O F PL A TE S ................................. ...................................................... 6..

A B ST R A C T ..................................... .................................................... . 7

PROJECT REPORT ........................................................................... ........... 9

P L A T E S ....................................................................................................... 2 0

LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................... ............29

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................................................ .......... 30









LIST OF PLATES
Plate 1. Stepping Razor. Fall 2008. Ink on Paper. 14"x30".

Plate 2. Knifesicle. Spring 2009Latex on Paper. 90"x24".

Plate 3. Man LiftI. Fall 2010. Latex, Acrylic, & Fur on Steel. 26"xl4"xl4".

Plate 4. Man LiftI&II (installation view). Fall 2010 Latex, Acrylic, & Fur on Steel. 26"xl4"xl4"

Plate 5. Laying Pipe Stalagmite. Latex on Steel. 18"x3"x3". Fall 2010

Plate 6. Laying Pipe Stalagmite (detail). Latex on Steel. 18"x3"x3". Fall 2010

Plate 7. The Mother Axe (profile). Spring 2010. Urethane Enamel on Steel. 72"x24"x44"

Plate 8. The Mother Axe (3/4 view). Spring 2010. Urethane Enamel on Steel. 72"x24"x44"

Plate 9. The Mother Axe (detail). Spring 2010. Urethane Enamel on Steel. 72"x24"x44"

Plate 10. The Painters Chisel (profile). Fall 2010. Latex on Steel. 9"xl"xl".

Plate 11. The Painters Chisel (3/4 view). Fall 2010. Latex on Steel. 9"xl"xl".

Plate 12. Wonder Bar & Fuzzy Painter. Fall 2010. Latex on Steel. 14"x4"x3".

Plate 13. Wonder Bar & Fuzzy Painter (detail). Fall 2010. Latex on Steel. 14"x4"x3".

Plate 14. The Golden Maul. Spring 2011. Latex on Steel. 7"xll"x3".

Plate 15. The Golden Maul (3/4 view). Spring 2011. Latex on Steel. 7"xl l"x3".

Plate 16. The Pearly Bucket. Spring 2011. Urethane Enamel & Latex on Cast Resin & Steel.
86"x90"x33"

Plate 17. The Pearly Bucket (3/4 view). Spring 2011. Urethane Enamel & Latex on Cast Resin &
Steel. 86"x90"x33"

Plate 18. The Pearly Bucket (detail). Spring 2011. Urethane Enamel & Latex on Cast Resin &
Steel. 86"x90"x33"










Summary of Project in Lieu of Thesis
Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Master of Fine Arts

IN THE SHED, A FEW COLORS SHORT OF THE RAINBOW

By

Chisum Miles Justus

May 2010

Chair: Ron Janowich
Major: Art

In The .,hel, A Few Colors .\/h,, t of the Rainbow is a creative investigation of objects that

dissects and deconstructs their function, appeal, and metaphorical possibilities when

contextualized through an active intervention, manipulation and placement in a gallery setting.

These utilitarian objects (primarily tools) embody concepts and relationships that suggest power

struggles, polar opposites, contradictions and the point at which they collide to create self-

dismantling occurrences. Altering and re-aestheticizing the object simultaneously contextualizes

it and creates an accumulation of contradictions, as a result there is a constant back and forth

shift in perception. The display exploits formal clashes such as rigid versus flaccid, playful

versus violent, phallic versus feminine. My interventions create provocative, ambiguous,

impotent, paralyzed, castrated, and weakened non-functional objects that are transcended to gain

a new strength as they enter an Art discourse. I employ paint in an intense, frequently "garish",

manufactured color palette that is then contrasted with the inherently elegant forms and nuanced

surfaces of the steel objects. They become buoyant, playful, poetic, sexual, sensual, and often

pathetic in their new context. The objects are contingent to the setting and dependent on their

treatment that determines their function or impotent lack thereof.









The work is infused with narratives and metaphors that investigate sociological issues of

gender, class, Art and their correlation. I choose utilitarian objects that are frequently associated

with male specific activities and blue-collar work. I do so in order to more directly communicate

notions of stereotypically masculine tendencies and those that may be considered "the lower

class", which normally have little interest in a fine art and/or intellectual discourse. The title, In

the .\he,, A Few Colors \h,,t of the Rainbow, is taken from the two idioms: "not the sharpest

tool in the shed" and "a few colors short of the rainbow". Both sayings are used to portray lack

of intelligence, common sense, and general ignorance. The two sayings combined

decontextualize one another to take on a new meaning as an ironic and humorous approach. The

title is fitting since the process of dipping the coloring onto these sculptures' and their

development of form, took place in a 'tool shed' (my current studio). Their forms are morphed

to attain a familiar strangeness. The confection like candy colors and sexually charged phallic

forms are simultaneously pleasing and discomforting to the viewer.

Ultimately the work embodies the physical and psychological formation/transformation

of character that is dependent upon surrounding conditions, manipulations and experiences. By

investigating these aspects of the human condition through common objects, this work presents a

complex conjunction of personal experiences and references. Barriers between social class and

bracketed art practice are blurred. Rigid sculpture is morphed with fluid paint, becoming an

active collision that creates a dismantling yet complimentary occurrence for both painting and

sculptural practice. Through the process, material, and context the object's intended form and

function is transformed and transcended into a higher accountability.









PROJECT REPORT

This project is a creative investigation of utilitarian objects that dissects and deconstructs

their function, appeal, and metaphorical possibilities when contextualized through an active

intervention, manipulation and placement in a gallery setting. These modified objects embody

concepts and relationships that suggest power struggles, polar opposites, contradictions and the

point at which they collide to create self- dismantling occurrences. Altering and re-aestheticizing

the object simultaneously contextualizes it and creates an accumulation of contradictions; as a

result there is a constant shift in perception. The display exploits formal clashes such as rigid

versus flaccid, playful versus violent, phallic versus feminine.

I use utilitarian objects to create narratives associated with social issues involving

gender, class, and Art. By selecting objects generally associated with male oriented activities and

blue-collar work addresses aspects of stereotypical masculine tendencies and those that may

frequently be considered the sector of society who typically have little interest in "fine" Art

and/or intellectual discourse. Societal norms endorse a strong, tough, and emotionless sensibility

of masculinity through language, literature and media. This instills a confused definition of what

it is to be a 'Man' and our roles in relationships and society. The reluctance to expose ones true

inner, sympathetic, or softer side is ever present amongst men, for fear of being perceived as soft

or weak. Vulnerability is represented in my work through the intervention and transformation of

found objects.

The poem "Bluebird" by Charles Bukowski is an influential writing that poetically

speaks to such behavior. Oddly enough his self-awareness is overruled in the end by this facade

for fear of vulnerability.










Bluebird
There's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going to let anybody see you.
there's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders and the grocery clerks
never know that he's in there.


There's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay down, do you want to mess me up?
you want to screw up the works?
there's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there, so don't be sad.
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little in there,
I haven't quite let him die
and we sleep together like that
with our secret pact
and it's nice enough to make a man weep,
but I don't weep, do you?
-Charles Bukowski
1


I feel there are strong ties with content of this poem and this project. There are parallels

in tone, attitude, and self-referential language that are present in my work. Though the initial

steel objects are cold and rigid, the forms are softened by the paint and activated to subvert their

singular function.

1 Charles Bukowski, The Pleasures of the Damned. Bluebird.









The Found Altered Object

I began paying attention to objects when if found I could use them as signifiers in my

work. It started by making drawings of them (plate 1), which led me to paintings of them (plate

2), which led to painting directly on the object itself (plates 3-4). The dipping process was a

chance discovery that occurred while mining the physical properties of house paint (latex

enamel) in conjunction with the found object. I dipped an aluminum exhaust hose multiple times

in a gallon of paint over the course of a semester. I hung it vertically upside down in order to let

the paint drip off it and accumulate on the floor. This later became known as the 'Laying Pipe

Stalagmite' (plate 5). I was intrigued by the strangeness of the form that evolved, yet I still had

no way of knowing this would become a primary factor in my work (plate 6). In fact, it was

somewhat difficult for me to accept the simplicity of this action. It took me the better part of a

semester dabbling in other modes of working and attempting to alter objects with flat surface

paint before I recognized the potential power of the dipping process. This is the power of

impotence over the object, which creates a contradiction within itself and allows it to operate on

a new level. I quote Gaston Bachelard from "The Poetics of Space ", "Behind dark curtains,

snow seems whiter. Indeed, everything comes alive when contradictions accumulate"2.

Bachelard is speaking to the intensities that form when contrast, opposition, and juxtapositions

are presented together.

The Mother Axe

During a period of resistance to the dips I worked intensely with metal fabrication and

initially intended to continue to do so. I built the 'Mother Axe' (plates 7-9), yet felt it did not

clearly communicate my intentions and became overly muddled with references to minimalist,


2 Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space.









monumental sculpture or Claus Oldenburgs' work. Oldenburg strongly informs my work by his

use of common objects, yet I am attempting to undermine the power of the object rather than

make a monument of it.

The Axe operates on many levels as functional object and signifier. In the most primitive

form it served as one of the first tools created by man. It is a combination of the club and the

rock, which initially functioned separately. The two were united forming a crucial tool and

weapon that continues to serve as an essential possession of any craftsman today. Although the

function has changed considerably it remains diverse in its usage. It is the ultimate survival tool;

it chops, cuts, hammers, carves, swings and can be thrown.

The material nature of steel makes the execution of a constructed work an intensely

laborious and calculated process. Steel is known and used for its strength and permanence, yet I

exploit its malleable properties in order to create form and content. I manipulated and physically

forced the steel into the form of the object; the entire piece is under constant outwardly

expanding tension. The Mother Axe is an enlarged axe head without a handle in the dimensions

of 72"x24"x44". The structure is constructed from eleven-gauge or 1/8" sheet metal. I began by

cutting a stencil out of plywood for all of the planes. I then plasma cut all the shapes out and

began the fabrication from the inside out (plate 8). I used a manual slip-roll metal bender to form

the interior teardrop shape (the space where the haft or handle would be). All the welds are

interior MIG welds except for the three on the planes of the blade. I then ground them down to

define the honed blade. The Mother Axe depends entirely on a clean and precise execution in

order to effectively operate as an illusion of a solid form.

The form of my constructed axe head is considerably exaggerated, the lines are crisp and

elegant. The sides bulge outwards and make it seem buoyant. The hole is an absence of space









and points out its competing interior versus exterior. It becomes vaginal, womblike, a seed, a

teardrop (plate 9). Abstraction is achieved simply by a scale shift and a touch of paint. There is

an unfamiliar recognition that is triggered during the encounter. The absence of a haft rules it

obsolete yet it attains strength in its formal aesthetic properties. There is a powerful shift

between the planar fields of the form; the raw unfinished surface of the blue steel is challenged

by the intense, fluorescent fuchsia car paint. The hollow form gives the illusion of immensity and

density, adding psychological weight. There is an implied movement within the form; elegant

curves versus hardedge lines and splitting symmetry are both masculine and feminine

simultaneously. The cultural distinctions that separate the classes of objects are tested; the head

of an axe becomes Art.

Process and Mediums

The dip sculptures enable functional utilitarian objects to formally engage in a

fine-art discourse (plate 10). By isolating an object, it becomes versatile and embodies a new

identity that is distanced from its original context. My interventions disable functionality and

create provocative, impotent, and castrated objects. I employ an intense, chromatic,

manufactured color palette that contrasts with the inherently elegant yet previously unvalued

forms of the cold steel. These objects seem to have identity crises. They become buoyant,

playful, poetic, sensual, and often pathetic in their new context. The objects are contingent to

their setting and dependent on their treatment that determines their function or impotent lack

thereof. By repeatedly dipping objects in latex paint, the rigid forms are morphed by an

accumulation of paint that is an uncontrollable growth, becoming transformed while attaining a

familiar strangeness. The confection like candy colors and sexually charged phallic forms are

simultaneously pleasing and discomforting to the viewer. This transformation takes place over









the course of hundreds of dips, depending on the form, usage and anticipated effect. I

deliberately use utilitarian materials purchased from Lowes or other hardware stores with the

intention of employing these materials to create a dialogue within the piece that is accessible to a

broader audience. Whether it is I-beams, house paint, automotive paint, a crow bar or a skid-steer

loader bucket, these objects provide a point of access to my concepts. It is my intention to

capture the viewer with a sense of awe and/or perplexity, not only by how it was made but why,

causing a re-evaluation of what one is looking at and how it should be perceived. An adoration of

form is the primary reason for the selection of the object or tool used. Whether or not the viewer

is familiar with the object presented creates various experiences and reactions. These sculptures

resonate on multiple levels and by doing so, are accessible to a larger audience. In the

documentary 'Beautiful Losers', Shepard Fairey states, "You know, there's ways to be the

Beatles, to have the smartest guy in the room and the dumbest guy in the room digging what

you're doing, and to have it affect people on multiple levels. Its not easy, but to aspire to that is

noble"3 It is not my expectation that all audiences have full accessibility to my work, only that it

will create a stimulation and reconsideration on some level with anyone, whether that is for its

aesthetics, craft, concept or simply its sound execution.

There is a reference to muscle car culture and customization with the use of candied

automotive paints, highly polished wood grain, and chrome. This is the result of an engrained

interest in muscle cars and 4x4's, a common interest that American culture has obsessed over

since the beginning of motorized vehicle production. In America we typically strive to build

things bigger, better, and faster. This fixation is commonly considered an over-compensation

associated with male interests and hobbies. There is a point in which the customization becomes


Shepard Fairey, Beautiful Losers.









absolutely absurd in efficiency and functionality yet remains a marvel of modern engineering,

mechanics, and attention to detail. It is traced back to the need for an excess of power and

dominance.

Power and control take on a narrative of their own in the process of executing a piece.

For me this is one of the most stimulating aspects of this mode of working. I present myself with

a challenge in the beginning by the selection of a particular object and then attempt to resolve a

solution to alter, transcend, and undermine its function. It often becomes a feat of endurance, a

very laborious intensive process that creates a struggle between the material and myself. The

owning or mastering of the material is a very self-gratifying experience. I take an extreme

amount of pride in the clean execution of my work. I am a firm believer in the mastering of ones

craft in order to properly communicate ideas through any given medium. Clean execution is an

imperative quality to my practice. This attention to detail and precision is stemmed directly from

my upbringing and prior work experience. I attended Texas Tech University prior to entering

UF, which is known for its incredible facilities and emphasis placed on technical ability and

craft. Each process varies dependent on the object at hand and what my intention may be. It

becomes a physical and mental battle in order to undercut the function and conquer the object.

Again, Bukowski states it much more eloquently in an excerpt from his novel Factotum, "My

contest is only with myself, to do it right, with power, with force and delight and gamble."4. This

"contest" is between the physical properties and limitations of the medium and myself. The push

and pull process results in a compromise between the material and my concept. During this

process I am forced by the mediums inherent qualities, to relinquish a certain amount of control,

whether that be the surface treatment of the steel or the elongated phallic forms the latex paint


4 Charles Bukowski, Factotum.









progresses into when dipping. (plate 19)

Display

All these sculptures are dependent on a method of display to generate the desired effect

of stimulation. I have determined that these objects require some sort of crutch or prop in order

to activate a titillating occurrence. The 'Painters Chisel' relies on a small steel crutch, on the

pedestal display, in order to activate its back bending drooping gesture. (Plates 10-11) The

'Wonder Bar' relies on the white and lime green mini paint roller to rest its small shriveling feet,

almost giving the illusion that it is slouched over the roller (Plates 12-13). The 'Golden Maul'

relies on its tiny Cherry wood pedestal to uplift it just enough to get its tip off the ground (Plates

14-15). 'The Pearly Bucket' relies on its I-beam gantry to suspend, frame and contain it like the

stretcher bars of a painting (Plates 16-18).

The Pearly Bucket

'The Pearly Bucket' is made from a skid steer frond-end loader bucket that is a piece of

equipment used as a groundbreaking implement. This bucket is also used for leveling, hauling,

lifting, and plowing. It is both a constructive and destructive device. The bucket alone weighs

800 lbs. not including the I-beam gantry, which is approximately 400 lbs. The gantry's function

is to frame the bucket and suspend it in a contained space, giving it buoyancy. By undercutting

its physical weight, the structure provides it a space to exist as a form while providing content

within a picture plane. Physically serving as the support, it also functions like the stretcher bars

of a painting. The frame is built out of S5xl0 I beam. In other words it has 5" inch webbing and

weights 10 pounds per foot. I took 40 feet of I-beam and miter cut them into 5 pieces with a

horizontal metal band saw. Each cut took over an hour and a half in order to maintain precision. I

then MIG welded, custom built hardware brackets that I machined out of 1/" plate steel. This









design facilitates disassembly and transportation of the structure. Art-historically I-beams and

steel are typically associated with Minimal and monumental sculpture, which are often

considered male dominated movements with steel as a macho choice of mediums. In the case of

this gantry structure it is used primarily as the support of the art object, like a pedestal is to a

sculpture and stretcher bars are to a canvas.

I had the bucket sandblasted down to the raw metal, removing all rust and factory paint. I

then drilled holes through the top of the bucket to suspend it with 3/8" chain shackles. I cut off

"unnecessary parts" (such as tow hooks and steps) in order to give it a cleaner look. I had it

patched with Bondo, primed, wet sanded, then shot with three coats of "Cadillac Pearly White"

urethane enamel (car paint), and finished with two clear coats. The blade was carved out of

American Red Oak, then sanded and stained with a simple homemade mixture consisting of steel

and vinegar in order to get the deep piano black coloring. I then finished with high gloss clear

coat varnish. The hardwood blade is sandwiched between the interiors of twelve cast onyx

polyurethane resin teeth. I carved a master tooth positive out of pine in order to make a negative

mold with poured silicone. Then I cast fourteen teeth, and sanded and painted them in a metallic

black, finished with UV resistant acrylic enamel clear coating. Finally I then begin the dip

process, which took approximately 8 gallons of paint. I began with alternating bold stripes of

pure Valspar black and white and progressed down the tooth. Reaching closer to the end of the

cast form the stripes begin to shrink and appear to slow down. By the time the black and white

stripes reach the tip of the teeth, the drip forms were reaching anywhere from 1-5 inches in

length. Their growth was somewhat uncontrollable and dependent on factors such as placement

in the shed and proximity to the fan, light, or window. However they were rearranged several

times during the process according to the progression of their growth.









The interior of the bucket is inviting to the viewer, instilling in them a sense of comfort

and safety. One can picture sitting or lying down inside it. The dense black steel exterior

intensely contrasts the polished white interior. The space is enticing yet intimidating, the object

in its entirety becomes unsettling with the limp painted teeth protruding and drooping from its

pristine white interior. Once approached, the paint dripping from teeth become intrusive to the

viewers personal space. The juxtapositions of various surface treatments create strong

contradictions and ambiguities within the piece. The suspended bucket becomes swing-like in its

display, yet inaccessible as one, because of its height, teeth, and pristine surface treatment. This

gives the piece an obscured sense of play. There is an association with the slick pearl white

interior space and that of a trough, bathtub, or urinal. This could be perceived as a reference to

Duchamp's 'Fountain' and again speaks to the use of ready-mades and domestic banal objects

that we seem to draw closer ties to when they are brought into an art context.

In the end, the paint dips are the integral medium that transforms the unyielding rigid

form into fluid flowing paint. The dips are accountable for the activation of the entire piece. Just

as in any painting, the piece depends on the layering of paint in order to translate the concept.

Conclusion

Ultimately my work embodies the physical and psychological formation/transformation

of character that is dependent upon surrounding conditions. Our experiences and the objects that

we surround ourselves with affect our character just as color and paint are used as stand-ins for

the manipulation and transformation of the object's character. Examining impressionable aspects

of the human condition through common objects and art practices presents a complex

conjunction of personal experiences and references. Barriers between social class and bracketed

mediums in Art academia are blurred. Rigid sculpture is morphed with fluid paint becoming an









active collision to create a dismantling yet complimentary occurrence for both painting and

sculptural practice. I work in three dimensions, while always attaining direct references to both

painting and sculpture, opening up a dialogue between the two practices. Through the process,

material, and context, the object's intended form and function are transformed and transcended

into a higher accountability.





PLATES


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25
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LIST OF REFERENCES

1. Bukowski, Charles. The Pleasures Of The Damned. Bluebird. New York, NY: Harper

Collins Publishers, 2008.

2. Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1994.

3. Rose, Aaron. Leonard, Joshua. Fairey, Shepard. Beautiful Losers. USA: Sidetrack Films,

2008.

4. Bukowski, Charles. Factotum. Boston, Massachusetts: Black Sparrow Books, 1975.









Biographical Sketch


This project began as a simple mining of my childhood, past experiences, and the objects

associated with them. In a self-rhetorical manner I began deconstructing my adolescence and

upbringing in order to better understand myself. By questioning my personal characteristic

attributes I began to understand how and why they had been constructed. It was the first time in

my life that I sincerely questioned the 'way' that I am, in a critical manner. This is in part due to

what felt like a rushed youth that did not allow time or room for reflection, only action and

reaction.


I was raised in a small farming and ranching community in the Llano Estacado of West

Texas. I attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock Texas, where I received my BFA in

Painting and Drawing in 2008. I entered the graduate program at the University of Florida, where

I received my MFA in 2011.




Full Text

PAGE 1

1 IN THE SHED, A FEW COLORS SHORT OF THE RAINBOW By CHISUM MILES JUSTUS SUPERVISORY COMMITTEE: RON JANOWICH, CHAIR RICHARD HEIPP, MEMBER A PROJECT IN LIEU OF THESIS PRESENTED TO THE COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FL ORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIRMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF FINE ART UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2011

PAGE 2

2 2011 Chisum Miles Justus

PAGE 3

3 To my Mom and in memory of Ron Stiles

PAGE 4

4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank my committee chair, Ron Janowich, for all his insight, support and invaluable feedback. I thank my committee member, Richard Heipp f or continually challenging me to be ambitious in my work. I thank Jerry Cutl er for guiding me through the first years with his infinite wisdom. I thank Celeste Roberge for her patience, sincerity, and interest in my work. I thank Brad Smith for all his technical assistance in the construction of my work. Finally, I thank all my peer s (the cool painter kids plus D) that helped me haul these p rojects around; this would have been impossible without you

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS P age .20 ...29 3 0

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6 LIST OF PLATES Plate 1. Stepping Razor Fall 2008 Plate 2. Knifesicle Spring 2009 Latex on Paper Plate 3. Man Lift I Fall 2010 L Plate 4. Man Lif t I&II (installation view) Fall 2010 P late 5 Laying Pipe Stalagmite Fall 2010 Plate 6 Laying Pipe Stalagmite (detail) Plate 7 The Mother A xe (profile) Spring 2010 Urethane Enamel on Steel Plate 8 The Mother Axe (3/4 view ) Spring 2010 Plate 9 The Mother Axe (detail) Spring 2010 Plate 10 The Painters Chisel (profile) Fall 2010 Plate 11 The Painters Chisel (3/4 view) Fall 2010 Plate 12 Wonder Bar & Fuzzy Painter Fall 2010 Plate 13 Wonder Bar & Fuzzy Pai nter (detail) Fall 2010 Plate 14 The Golden Maul Spring 2011. Plate 15 The Golden Maul (3/4 view) Plate 16 The Pe arly Bucket. Spring 2011. Urethane Ena mel & Latex on Cast Resin & Steel. Plate 17 The Pe arly Bucket (3/4 view) Spring 2011. Urethane Enamel & Latex on Cast Resin & Steel. Plate 18 The Pearly Bucket (detail) Spring 2011. Urethane Enamel & Latex on Cast Resin & Steel.

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7 Summary of Project in Lieu of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts IN THE SHED, A FEW COLORS SHORT OF THE RAINBOW By Chisum Miles Justus May 2010 Chair: Ron Janowich Major: Art In The Shed, A Few Colors Short of the Rainbow is a creative investigation of objects that dissect s and deconstruct s their function, appeal, and metaphorical possibilities when contextualized through an active intervention, manipulation and placement in a gallery setting. These utilitarian objects (primarily tools) embody concepts and relationships that suggest power struggles, polar opposites contradictions and th e point at which they collid e to create self d ismantling occurrences. A ltering and re aestheticizing the object simultaneously contextualize s it and creates an accumulation of contradictions as a result there is a constant back and forth shift in perception The d isplay exploits f ormal clashes such as rigid versus flaccid, playful versus violent, phallic versus feminine. My interventions create provocative, ambiguous, impotent, paralyzed, castrated, and weakened non functional objects that are transcend ed to gain a new strength as they enter an Art discourse. I employ paint in manufactured color palette that is then contrasted with the inherently elegant forms and nuanced surfaces of the steel obje cts. They become buoyant, playful, poetic, sexual, se nsual, and often pathetic in their new context. The objects are contingent to the setting and dependent on their treatment that determines their function or impotent lack thereof.

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8 The work is infused with narratives and metaphors that investigate sociol ogical issues of gender, class, Art and their correlation. I choose utilitarian objects that are frequently associated with male specific activities and blue collar work I do so in order to more directly communicate notions of stereotypical ly masculine t which normally have little interest in a fine art and/or intellectual discourse. The title In the Shed, A Few Colors Short of the Rainbow tool i of intelligence, common sense, and general igno rance. The two sayings combined decontextualize one another to tak e on a new meaning as an ironic and humor ous approac h. The title is fitting since development t o attain a familiar strangeness. T he confection like candy co lors and sexually charged phallic forms are simultaneously pleasing and discomforting to the viewer. Ultimately the work embodies the physical and psychological formation/transformation of character that is dependent upon surrounding conditions, manipula tions and experiences. By i nvestigating these aspects of the human condition throu gh common objects, this work present s a complex conjunction of personal experiences and references. Barrie rs between social class and bracketed art practice are blurred R igi d sculpture is morphed with fluid paint becoming an active collision that creates a dismantling yet complimentary occurrence for both painting and sculptural practice Through the process, m aterial, and context function is t ransformed and transcended into a higher accountability.

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9 PROJECT REPORT This project is a creative investigation of utilitarian objects that dissect s and deconstruct s their function, appeal, and metaphorical possibilities when contextualized through an active intervention, manipulation and placement in a gallery sett ing. These modified objects embody concepts and relationships that suggest power struggles, polar opposites, contradictions and th e point at which they collide to create self d ismantling oc currences. A ltering and re aestheticizing the object simultaneously c ontextualizes it and creates an accumulation of contradictions; as a result there is a constant shift in perception The d isplay exploits formal clashes such as rigid versus flaccid, pla yful versus violent, phallic versus feminine. I use utilitarian objec ts to create narratives associated with social issues involving gender, class, and Art. By selecting obje cts generally associated with male oriented activities and blue collar wo rk addre sses aspects of stereotypical masculine tendencies and those that may frequently be considered the sector of society who typically have little interest in fine rt and/or intellectual discourse. Societal norms endorse a strong, tough and emotionless sen sibility of masculinity through langu age, literature and media. This instill s a confused definition of what les in relationships and society The reluctance to expose ones true inner, sympathetic, or softer side is ever prese nt amongst men, for fear of being perceived as soft or weak. Vulnerability is represented in my work through the i ntervention and transformation of found object s. is an influ ential writing that poetically speaks to such behavior Oddly enough his self awareness is overruled in the end by this facade for fear of vulnerability

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10 Bluebird There's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I'm too tough for him, I say, stay in there, I'm not going to let anybody see you. there's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I pour whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke and the whores and the bartenders and the grocery clerks never know that he's in there. There's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I'm too tough for him, I say, stay down, do you want to mess me up? you want to screw up the works? there's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I'm too clever, I only let him out at night sometimes when everybody's asleep. I say, I know t hat you're there, so don't be sad. then I put him back, but he's singing a little in there, I haven't quite let him die and we sleep together like that with our secret pact and it's nice enough to make a man weep, but I don't weep, do you? Charles Bukowsk i 1 I feel there are strong ties with content of this poem and this project There are parallels in tone, attitude, and self referential language that are present in my work. Though the initial steel objects are cold and rigid, the forms are softened by the paint and activated to subvert their singular function. 1 Charles Bukowski, The Pleasures of the Damned. Bluebird

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11 The Found Altered Object I began paying attention to objects when if found I could use them as s ignifiers in my work. It started by making drawings of them (plate 1) which led me to paintings o f them (plate 2), which led to painting directly on the object itself (plate s 3 4). The dipping process was a chance discovery that occurred while mining the physical properties of house paint (latex enamel) in conjunction with the found object. I dipped an aluminum exhaust hose multiple times in a gallon of paint over the course of a semester. I hung it vertically upside down in order to le t the paint drip off it and accumulate ). I was intrigued by the strangeness of the form that evolved, yet I still had no way of knowing this would b ecome a primary factor in my work (plate 6) In fact it was somewhat difficult for me to accept the simplicity of this action It took me the b etter part of a semester dabbling in other modes of working and attempting to alter objects with flat surface pa int before I recognized the potential power of the dipping process This is the pow er of impotence over the object, which creates a contradictio n within itself and allows it to operate on a new level I quote Gaston Bachelard from The Poetics of Space snow seems whiter. Indeed, everything comes alive when contradictions accumulate 2 Bachelard is speaking to the intensit ies that form when contrast, oppositions, and juxtaposition s are presented together The Mother Axe During a period of resistance to the dips I worked intensely with metal fabrication and initially plates 7 9 ), yet felt it did not clearly communicate my intenti ons and became overly muddled with references to minimalist 2 Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space.

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12 monumental sculpture or Claus strongly informs my work by his use of common objects, yet I am attemptin g to undermine the power of the object rather than make a monument of it. The Axe operate s on many levels as functional object and signifier In the most primitive form it served as one of the first tools created by man. It is a combination of the club and the rock, which initially functioned separately. The two were u nited forming a crucial tool and weapo n that continues to serve as an essential possession of any craftsman today. Although the function has changed considerably it remains diverse in its u sage. I t is the ultimate survival tool; it chops, cuts, hammers, carves, swings and can be thrown. The material nature of steel makes the execution of a constructed work an intensely laborious and calculated process. Steel is known and used for its stren gth and permanence yet I exploit its malleable properties in order to create form and content. I manipulated and physically forced the steel into the form of the object; the entire piece is under constant outwardly expanding tension. The Mother Axe is an enlarged axe head without a handle in the dimensions of The structure is constructed from eleven cutting a stencil out of plywood for all of the planes. I then plasma cut all the shapes out and began the fabrication from the inside out (plate 8) I used a manual slip roll metal bender to f orm the interior teardrop shape ( the space where the haft or handle would be ) All the welds are interior MIG welds except for the three on the planes of the blade. I th en ground them down to define the honed blade. The Mother Axe depends entirely on a clean and precise execution in order to effectively operate as an illusion of a solid form. The form of my constructed axe head is considerably exaggerated, the lines a re crisp and elegant. The sides bulge outwards and make it seem buoyant The hole is an absence of space

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13 and points out its competing interior versus exterior. It becomes vagi nal, womb like a seed, a teardrop (plate 9) Abstraction is achieved simply by a scale shift and a touch of paint. There is an unfamiliar recognition that is triggered during the encounter. The absence of a haft rules it obsolete yet it attain s strength in its formal aesthetic properties. There is a powerful shift between the planar fields of the form ; the raw unfinished surface of the blue steel is challenged by the intense, fluorescent fuchsia car paint. The hollow form give s the illusion of immensit y and density add ing psychological weight. T here is an implied movement within the form; elegant curves versus hardedge lines and splitting symmetry are both masculine and feminine simultaneously. The cultural distinctions that separate th e classes of objects are tested; the head of an axe becomes Art. Process and Mediums The dip scu lptures enable functional utilitarian objects to formally engage in a fine art discourse (plate 10) By isolating a n object, it becomes versatile and embodies a new identity that is distanced from its original context. My interventions disable functionalit y and create pr ovocative, impotent, and castrated objects I employ an intense, chromatic ma nufactured color palette that contrasts with the inherently elegant yet previously unvalued forms of the cold steel. These objects seem to have identity crises They become buoyant, playful, poetic, sensual, and often pathetic in th eir new context. The objects are contingent to their setting and dependent on their treatment that determines their function or impotent lack thereof. By repeatedly dipping objects in latex paint the rigid forms are morphed by an accumulation of paint t hat is an uncontrollable growth, becoming transformed while attaining a familiar strangeness. T he confection like candy colors and sexually charged phallic forms are simultaneously pleas ing an d discomfor ting to the viewer. This transformation takes place ove r

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14 the course of hundreds of dips, depending on the form, usage and anticipated effect. I deliberately use utilitarian materials purchased from Lowes or other hardware stores with the i ntention of em ploying these materials to create a dialogue within the piece that is accessible to a broader audience. Whether it is I beams, house paint, automotive paint, a crow bar or a skid steer loader bucket, these objects provide a point of access to my concepts It is my intention to ca pture the viewer with a sense of awe and/or perplexity, n ot only by how it was made but why, causing a re evaluation of what one is looking at and how it should be perceived. An adoration of form is the primary reason for the selection of the object or tool used. Whether or not the viewer is familiar with the object presented creates various experiences and reactions. These sculptures resonate on multiple levels and by doing so, are accessible to a larger audience. In t he Beatles, to have the smartest guy in the room and the dumbest guy in the room digging wha t ffect people on multiple levels. Its not ea sy, but to aspire to that is 3 It is not my expectation that all audiences have full accessibility to my work, only that it will create a stimulation and reconsiderati on on some level with anyone, w hether that is for its aestheti cs, craft, concept or simply its sound execution There is a reference to muscle car culture and customiza tion with the use of candied automotive paints, highly polished wood g rain, and chrome. This is the result of an engrained interest in a common i nterest that American culture has obsessed over since the beginning of motorized vehicle production. In America we typically strive to build things bigger, better, and faster. This fixation is commonly consider ed an over compensation associated with male interests and hobbies. There is a point in which the customization becomes 3 Shepard Fairey, Beautiful Losers

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15 absolutely absurd in efficiency and functionality yet remains a marvel of modern engineering, mechanics and attention to detail It is traced back to the need for an excess of pow er and dominance Power and control take on a narrative of their own in the process of executing a piece. For me this is one of the most stimulating aspects of this mode of working. I present myself with a challenge in the beginning by the selection of a par ticular object and then attempt to resolve a solution to alter, transcend, and undermine its function. It often becomes a feat of endurance, a very laborious intensive process that creates a struggle between the material and myself. The owning or mast ering of the material is a very self gratifying experience. I take an extreme amount of pride in the clean execution of my work. I am a firm believer in the mastering of ones craft in order to properly communicate ideas through any given medium. Clean exec ution is an imperative quality to my practice. This attention to detail and precision is stemmed directly from my upbringing and prior work experience. I attended Texas Tech University prior to entering UF, which is known for its incredible facilities an d emphasis placed on technical ability and craft. Each process varies dependent on the object at hand and what my intention may be. It becomes a physical and mental battle in order to un dercut the function and conquer the object. Again, Bukowski states i t much more eloquently in an excerpt from his novel Factotum 4 This between the physical properties and limitations of the medium and myself. The push and pull process results in a compromise between the material and my concept During this process I am forced by the mediums inherent qualities, to relinquis h a certain amount of control, whether that be the surface treatment of the steel or the elon gated phallic forms the latex paint 4 Charles Bukowski, Factot um.

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16 progresses into when dipping ( plate 19) Display All these s culptures are dependent on a method of display to generate the desired effect of stimulation I have determined that these objects require some sort of crutch or prop in order to activate a titillating occurrence. on the pedestal display in o rder t o activate its back bending drooping gesture ( P lates 10 11 ) The relies on the white and lime green mi ni paint roller to rest its small shriveling feet, almost giving the illusion that it is slouched over the roller (P lates 12 13 Golden relies on its tiny C herry wood pedestal to uplift it just enough to get its tip off the ground (Plates 14 15 ). relies on its I beam gantry to suspend, frame and contain it like the str etcher bars of a painting (P lat es 16 18 ). The P early Bucket The Pearly B ucket is made from a skid steer frond end loader bucket that is a piece of equipme nt used as a groundbreaking implement. This bucket is also used for leveling, h auling, lifting, and plowing It is both a constructive and destructive devic e Th e bucket alone weighs 800 lbs. not including the I beam gantry, which is approximately 400 lbs function is to frame the bucket and suspend it in a contained space giving it buoyancy. By undercutting its physical weight the structure provides it a spa ce to exist as a form while providing content within a picture plane. P hysically se rving as the support it also function s like the stretcher bar s of a painting The frame is built out of S5x10 I beam. weights 10 pounds per foot. I took 40 feet of I beam and miter cut them into 5 pieces with a h orizontal metal ban d saw Each cu t took over an hour and a half in order to maintain precision I then MIG welded custom built hardware brackets that I machined out of This

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17 design facilitates disassembly and transportation of the structure Art historically I beams and steel are typi cally associated with M inimal and m onumental sculpture, which are often considere d male dominated movements with steel as a mac ho choice of medium s I n the case of this gantry structure it is use d primarily as the support of the art object, like a pedestal is to a sculpture and stretcher bars are to a canvas. I had the bucket sandblasted down to the raw metal removing all rust and factory paint. I then drilled holes through the top of t he bucket to suspend it shackles I cut off unnecessary parts such as tow hooks and steps ) in order t o give it a cleaner look I had it patched with Bondo, primed, wet sanded then shot with three coats of urethane enamel (car paint) and finished with two clear coats. The blade was carved out of American Red Oak then sanded and stained with a simple homemade mixture consisting of steel and vinegar in order to get the deep piano black coloring. I then finished with high gloss clear coa t varnish. The hardwood blade is sandwiched between the interiors of twelve cast onyx polyuretha ne resin teeth. I carved a master tooth positive out of pine in order to make a negative mold with poured silicone. Then I cast fourteen teeth, and sanded an d painted them in a metallic black, finished with UV resistant acrylic enamel clear coating Finally I then begin the dip process, which took approximately 8 gallons of paint. I began with alternating bold stripes of pure Valspar black and white and progr essed down the tooth. Reaching closer to the end of the cast form the stripes begin to shrink and appear to slow down. By the time the black and white stripes reach the tip of the teeth, the drip forms were reaching anywhere from 1 5 inches in length T heir growth was somewhat uncontrollable and dependen t on factors such as placement in the shed and proximity to the fan, light, or window. However they were rearranged several times durin g the process according to the progression of their growth.

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18 The int erior of the b ucket is inviting to the viewer instilling in them a sense of comfort and safety. One can picture sitting or lying down inside it. The dense black steel exterior intensely contrasts the polished white interior. The space is enticing yet int imidating, the object in its entirety becomes unsettling with the limp painted teeth protruding and drooping from it s pristine white interior. Once approached the paint dripping from teeth become intrusive to the viewers personal space. The juxtaposition s of various surface treatments create strong contradictions and ambiguities within the piece. The suspended bucket be comes swing like in its display, yet inaccessible as one, because of its height teeth and pristine surface treatment. This gives the pie ce an obscur ed sense of play. There is an association with the slick pearl white interior space and that of a trough, bathtub, or urinal. This could be perceived as a reference to Du and again speaks to the use of ready mades and domest ic banal objects that we seem to draw closer ties to when they are brought into an art context In the end the paint dips are the integral medium that transforms the unyielding rigid form into fluid flowing paint. The dips are accountable for the acti vation of the entire piece Jus t as in any painting, the piece depends on the layering of paint in order to translate the concept. Conclusion Ultimately my work embodies the physical and psychological formation/transformation of character that is dependent upon surrounding conditions Our experiences and the objects that we surround ourselves with affec t our character just as color and paint are used as stand in s for the manipulation and transformation of the Examining impressionable asp ects of the human condition through common objects and art practices present s a complex conjunction of personal experiences and references. Barriers between social class and bracketed mediums in Art academia are blurred R igid sculpture is morphed with flu id paint becoming an

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19 active collision to create a dismantling yet complimentary occurrence for both painting and sculptural practice I work in three dimensions, while always attaining direct references to both painting and sculpture opening up a dialogu e between t he two practices Through the process, material, and context, the object transformed and transcended into a higher accountability.

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20 PLATES 1. 2.

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21 3. 4.

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22 5. 6.

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23 7. 8 9.

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24 10 11.

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25 12 13

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26 14. 15.

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27 16. 17.

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28 18.

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29 LIST OF REFERENCES 1. Bukowski, Charles. The Pleasures Of The Damned: Bluebird New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 2008. 2. Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space Boston, Massachusetts: Beaco n Press, 1994. 3. Rose, Aaron. Leonard, Joshua. Fairey, Shepard. Beautiful Losers USA: Sidetrack Films, 2008. 4. Bukowski, Charles Factotum. Boston, Massachus etts: Black Sparrow Books, 1975.

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30 Biographical Sketch This project began as a simple mining of my childhood, past experiences, and the objects associated with them. In a self rhetorical manner I began deconstructing my adolescence and upbringing in orde r to better understand myself. By questioning my personal characteristic attributes I be gan to understand how and why they had been constructed. It was the first time in what felt l ike a rushed youth that did not allow time or room for refle ction, only action and reaction. I was raised in a small farming and ranching community in the Llano Estacado of West Texas. I attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock Texas, where I received my BFA in Painting and Drawing in 2008. I entered the gradua te program at the University of Florida, where I received my MFA in 2011.