When we think of comfort and (dis)comfort, we often think of polar-opposite feelings of ease and unease; however, in 2020/2021 the global pandemic, cultural and racial upheaval, and the myriad of changes to our lives have left us feeling a constellation of emotions. This project was an open call for community members to consider their own experiences with comfort and (dis)comfort in this time of instability, disruption, and isolation.
Guest artist and local community college educator Nicole Green Hodges was invited to review the exhibition submissions to make Selections that will each receive a $100 gift for their interpretation of the theme. Selections were made in a blind review.
(Dis)Comfort: A Virtual Project was originally featured on our website for viewing June 1 – August 31, 2021.
GUEST ARTIST SELECTIONS
V. Michelle Griffiths
Danielle Giudici Wallis
Chaos of Disconnection
My artwork is done in colored pencil and ink. To me, this work represents the feeling of deep isolation and perhaps hopelessness, as many felt during the pandemic.
Portraits of a coming of age in relative forced social isolation.
Addiction is always an uncomfortable topic to talk about, and that was my inspiration for this photograph. We always see "illegal" drugs as the villain; however, pharmaceutical drugs are equally destructive. The ongoing opioid epidemic has sparked the conversation about addiction, but society has yet to villainize these "legal" drugs compared to street drugs. I wanted the paper mache mushroom cap to represent one of the many naturalistic (yet illegal in most states) drugs. The prominent pill bottle caps are a representation of the pharmaceutical industry. The vibrancy of the mushroom and pills are purposely heightened to illustrate the high and comfort people feel when taking drugs. At the same time, the model is kept desaturated and void of color to represent the negative feelings people feel once that high is gone. I've witnessed in my personal life what opioid addiction can do. I chose to blacken the fingers and add stiletto nails to depict evil and darkness that can come from pills. The white outfit represents the pristine environment of hospitals and also the sense of purity and innocence.
It's disheartening to see people fall into addiction because their prescription drugs are an escape from the discomfort of their pain or illness. Unfortunately, rather than helping people who fall into addiction, our society has abandoned them in homeless encampments or prison cells. I want to help destigmatize addiction and make this a comfortable topic to talk about. In doing so, we can move forward in finding proper solutions to helping those affected by this epidemic.
V. Michelle Griffiths
(Not) Standing Still: Gaping Hole
These spontaneous mixed-media pieces are built layer upon layer with collage, gesso, acrylic paint, watercolor, crayon, water soluble graphite, and stabilo pencil on a substrate of watercolor paper, composition notebook paper, or junk mail. Recurring scalloped and human-like motifs and circles represent inner and outer worlds connecting a distressing past with the ever-changing present. These three pieces were created at different points during the Covid-19 pandemic during times of fear, uncertainty, and fatigue.
In my portraits, I am portraying the struggles of depression and how it applies to the feeling of both comfort and discomfort. I used my teenage daughter's own experience with depression to demonstrate the reality of what depression felt like for her. I worked with my daughter closely on this project so that we could create images that would not only reflect her emotions at the time, but perhaps others' as well. By framing my model within a cube, I am able to show the feeling of being trapped. The trapped feeling more literally represents the idea of being stuck in a box, or confined, as my daughter constantly stated that this is what her depression most closely felt like. At the same time, however, the cube represented more than just the feeling of discomfort as it displayed the feeling of shelter as well. One of the things I found very interesting was how my daughter stated that though she hated the depression and how it hurt her constantly, many times she also found an odd sort of comfort within it due to the fact that she knew the things she was feeling were real. The order of the photos also has a lot to do with the representation of comfort within the images as the model slowly comes from a huddled position to one more open where hands are positioned to make it seem as if there is a light shining through the box. I thought this was very important as it not only reflected my daughter's recovery but also gave an even balance of comfort to the already seemingly uncomfortable photos.
This piece is part of a project I started at the beginning of lockdown due to COVID-19. I needed to keep my hands busy to alleviate the anxiety I was feeling. I used fibers, strips of fabric and a great deal of threads of different weight to create a webbing much like a fishing net. As my comfort level continued to shrink from the pandemic and social unrest, I continued adding threads by weaving and knotting, it was quite meditative and helped me process my discomfort.
André José Holguin
Affects of the Pandemic on the Physical Self (2012-2021)
This project consists of images ranging from 2012 to 2021. The image of the flower is from 2012, the image next to it (moving from the left to the right) from 2015, the one after from 2019, and the black and white images from 2021.
I ordered them this way to not only show the affects that time has had on me (especially in terms of shifting my focus from the outer world to myself) but also how the pandemic itself has particularly affected me (noticeably marked in black and white). The affect on me has felt harsh, and hence why I took out the color, compared to the images that precede them.
The viewer will also notice the white space as well as the blue and gray columns of color. These were included to mimic the space of the Canvas website used by Chaffey students. Why? The aesthetics of the site (and how images looked on them) continually inspired me. It particularly inspired my black and white images as they were created through Chaffey College's Studio Lighting course this semester. Altogether, this project of self-reflection not only includes images from over the years but also images created recently through Chaffey College, directly influenced by the virtual situation I found myself in (e.g., learning photography through Canvas).
Jacqueline Bell Johnson
There's Something In The Water
Part of the series "A Clash of Crises." Acrylic process painting on paper, substantially altered through drawing using complementary colors to create loud, even alarming visual contrasts.
“Birth” is a video piece that I shot early in the pandemic. Building the large ceramic vessel coil by coil allowed me to cope with the worsening news and mandated isolation. At the time, I was a visiting professor at the University of Denver, and seemingly overnight the once bustling studio transformed into a ghost town filled with nothing but half-finished projects. Lately, I’ve caught myself wishing to go back to normal, but I’m learning that this moment in history demands something much greater. I now see this piece as a premonition. A rebirth is required.
This is a three color screen print. It is printed on 100lb paper. It is called "Liberation". This piece represents how LOVE overcomes HATE. Hate is in the background and can be seen, but LOVE dominates. The colors used represent an inversion in the perception/meaning of the colors black and white. The red is a representation of both the color of love and the color of blood.
Altered digital photograph.
White Voices Brown Faces
Through the growing epidemic that is racism, the experiences of minorities are often shadowed by that of white so-called activists. My piece is a self portrait that reflects the feeling of being masked by these voices. Minorities are often silenced when it comes to speaking about their experiences with racism because it is an uncomfortable conversation to have, but it is a necessary one.
All of these works are based on things in my life that have caused me some kind of discomfort. This includes my self image, time spent alone, my journey through my teens, and society’s standards on body hair.
Tania Jazz Mont
Covid has been tough on everyone. In many ways, we have been stuck in this strange collective moment in time. I have been getting through it by teaching remotely, painting, watching digital drag shows, and corresponding with my brother in prison. In one of his letters, his recent celly was going to be moving on. My bro was pretty excited about that because "that foo was too vain." According to my bro, this guy constantly needed reassurance regarding his erm...package. This is mostly acrylic but there are mixed media cultural elements attached such as a rosary, ebt card, lollipop wrapper, and the letter that my brother sent me. I don't do stereotypes. I don't do irony. I create my own absurdist fantasies based on my real life. The stories I tell are all mine. Thank you for your consideration.
(Dis)comfort intertwines with the ebb and flow of life.
Pain and Regression Within
Acrilic paint, paint markers, alcohol markers, gel pen, newspaper word cut-outs, comic cut-outs, small toys, miniature books, buttons, broken hair clip, googly eyes, metal skulls, Guinness alcohol, band-Aids, beads, bath stars, box clippings, bows, stickers, safety pins, silica gel packet, printed personal digital art of flavored bleach, E6000 glue, and broken mirror.
Spray paint, acrylic and marker.
Painting, abstract, symbolic and influenced by graffiti.
The inspiration behind my project is my mother. Thirteen years ago she was diagnosed with cancer, causing many turns of events for my family. She ended up having fourteen-hour surgery and ended up losing an eye. Being in public has always been very uncomfortable for my mother since people stare and make rude comments about her condition. Quarantine has brought her comfort in knowing that she does not have to be part of these situations. For her, wearing a mask means she does not have to be part of these situations. A mask for her is now a symbol of emotional comfort although physically it can be uncomfortable.
Beauty Behind the Madness
What has determined the idea of comfort/discomfort within the last year? It has come to fruition that quite possibly showcasing a lonely dark persona of a lone wolf can deem so possible. All throughout the pandemic many have felt a sort of pain and agony through suffering of loss or just being alone every day. Behind the madness of a lone wolf can show the inner beauty as one just has to find it.
The force of being loved to much. It becomes suffocating at times.
The image I am posting is to symbolize the isolation of children caused by the fear of Covid-19. This fear not only caused parents to lock away children during this time but instilled a fear within these children as well. No longer can a "spoon full of sugar help the medicine go down" as the great Marry Poppins would say. This was shot inside using 3-point lighting, iso-100, f-stop of 1.8 and with 50mm lens.
This painting is from a series created in the last year. I was painting in my studio at home while also practicing (and teaching) yoga via Instagram in the same studio. In considering the similarities between these two different studio practices (the painting studio and the yoga studio), it led me to explore directly connecting the two by including shapes made with my body into the work. I take a photograph of myself doing a pose and then create a vector to cut a stencil. I can use filters to morph the body shape in photoshop, but the shape nevertheless originates from my body. I use this stencil to integrate the body shape into my hard edge abstractions.
This pose is “Scorpion.” It involves releasing into an uneasy balance. To hold the pose you need to first find a stable balance on your forearms. But then it requires releasing into the backbend to lower your feet toward your head. The body’s natural response (guided by the mind’s fear) is to want to remain rigid, so you don’t fall over. But you arrive at the pose, and find balance, by softening your shoulders and back. You have to allow yourself to release and trust the experience you have developed in your daily practice. The strange shape looks awkward, but it also distributes the body weight so that you are actually more balanced than if you kept your body straight and rigid.
A representation of anxiety.
In The Waiting Room (Somewhere Between Clarified Well-Being and Cognitive Dissonance)
From a young age I've fully embraced the idea that life is expression in of itself. Feeling the typical uncertainty of being a "lost adolescent", at 16 I found photography, and I discovered that through this medium I could develop a way to connect with other individuals who also felt a similar level of detachment in ways that previously seemed out of reach.
As I've grown and progressed as an artist and individual my personal dealings with anxiety and depression have also grown and progressed, often being a primary inspiration behind not only the way that I showcase my expression, but the need to express myself in the first place. The project is titled to focus not necessarily on the "symptoms" that come along with various mental health issues, but rather the abstracts that those symptoms and the moments they occupy come to represent to an individual.
This project has an undeniable level of detachment represented within its imagery, which is often a feeling experienced by individuals with similar mental health issues. I have long felt not only lost within my surroundings, but truly disconnected from them. This project aims to document that feeling, focusing not only on the emotion of the individual but also upon the space they exist within, and the possible personification that space holds.
In The Waiting Room attempts to present these issues in a way that helps promote the understanding that individuals experiencing these struggles are not alone. I want to help remove some of the stigma from feeling so overwhelmed by aspects of reality that are far from singular and should never be hidden or pushed aside as non-existent/secondary concerns. Art has always been a way for me to connect and feel less alone in a world that, often as a result of my own mental/anxiety-based issues, feels incredibly distant.
Furthermore, I like to keep a level of individual interpretation in my work, and I want my viewers to experience the work aesthetically, yet still take more from the deeper meaning. I want the viewer to reflect on the relationship between our conscious and subconscious being and how it plays into mental health, not only to help better understand the commonality of these issues but also just how these issues impact those affected by them. In The Waiting Room showcases conceptual images which evoke a level of detachment subtle enough for most people to connect with. It is through this connection that I prove on a perceptual level just how related we actually are.
Digital painting created with Ibis Paint.
War-Torn Through The Never Having Enough
The mint leaves signify the fresh success of attaining the toilet roll throughout a brief time when it was very scarce. However, it is torn as many tried to get a roll of their own and even fought over one.
Danielle Giudici Wallis
Hand made slippers. Leather, shearling, cork, and forged steel.
Personal change is hard. Circumstances like the upheavals of the past year require us to retrofit ourselves to meet the demands of a new reality. Changes may at first feel disjointed and ill-fitting but ultimately we adapt and what is discomfiting becomes the new norm. No two people transform in quite the same way. Although we undergo changes collectively as a species and as a society, the changes we make as individuals follow an internal logic that outwardly may not make sense. How we reassemble ourselves makes us unique, the fact that we do makes us human.
During my time at home due to Covid-19 there was always the need to manage both the pressing concerns of work and family. I began to focus on the small things, the small moments to ease my mind during the pandemic. This portrait was created of my cat, Thor, that had undergone a series of serious health crises during the pandemic, where we almost lost him. The fear of the danger outside coupled with the potential of losing one of the reasons I had gotten through the harder moments of the last year, was what inspired me to paint my kitty. I made this portrait small, around 1x2.5, to emphasize the small things meaning more to me during times of loss and fear. His portrait was painted with found whiskers, as the brush, that had fallen off from Thor. This will be an ongoing series, starting with Thor.