For a kid or college student on a museum field trip, what could be more tantalizing than reaching out and caressing the decoupage behind the sign: DO NOT TOUCH? It was instilled in us from kindergarten that with one stroke, we could send the David crashing to a sudden death. However, for senior visual art major Bekah Meyer, both the artist and the onlooker should be able to utilize their sense of touch when interacting with art.
Meyer says that while creating an artifact for her SIP, she simply fell in love with materials as “sharing a way of understanding through haptic epistemology,” the knowledge relayed through tactile experiences.
On March 6, Meyer will suspend her 10-foot-tall mixed media installation —formed completely from hundreds of cotton-twine knots— between the rungs of the library stairwell. The sculpture, which upon its completion could be up to 4 feet thick, will be supported by a taut web of the same white twine.
Meyer says she wants her piece to invite stair climbers to pause in their busy schedules and indulge their sense of touch, as it can allow for “tapping into memory,” such as recalling the weave of your childhood blanket.
The inspiration for the project began with a string Meyer would fiddle with between classes as well as with a passion for textiles and 3D design. “String is what I had,” Meyer said, explaining how her initial appreciation for its texture allowed her to “play within the process” and produce the quirky character of her piece organically.
Debunking another stereotype about artwork, Meyer intends her sculpture to be anything but timeless and static. She knows that the sags or tangles made by time and passing participants will allow it to “keep evolving,” because she admits, like most things, “these knots won’t last forever.”
For English and Art major Alicia Zanoni, compiling a picture book entails putting a child’s most puzzling emotions into words and images for them. Her SIP, a watercolor picture book with the tentative title Samantha Sarah Marie Adjusts, portrays the integration of a 6-year-old foster child into a new family and is based off of the story of Zanoni’s sister, Samantha Sarah Marie.
As Zanoni explains, “This book was written for her, but also for a larger audience—particularly foster kids and their families.” She hopes that it will provide means for foster children to identify with the fear, distrust, anger, and, finally, acceptance that Samantha feels throughout the storyline and allow for foster families to have “an awareness of how much is going on inside.”
“The storylines come together like a puzzle,” says Zanoni. Now, the scenes are mere sketches on her storyboard, but Zanoni knows they will flesh out as she carefully draws from her sister’s reality to present in a playful style. Her watercolor illustrations of the characters will also be stylized potraits of their inspirations, but, lacking a harsh ink outline, will be more whimsical than cartoonish. The Samantha of the book will also share the same personality as the author’s sister: “spunky, strong, and emotionally distant, but with a little glimpse of the times when I’ve seen her trust.”
Zanoni understands that topics broached by the book are sensitive, and “there’s no way I can address everything a kid is thinking.” However, she sees humor as a way to “not make light of the situation or normalize it,” but make it palatable for children 5 and up. “My sister is hilarious” she exclaims, “and is so quirky!”
Zanoni aspires to have Samantha Sarah Marie Adjusts published, hoping her sister and other foster children will feel “special and valued…and not overlooked.”