Final Project Statement:
This project started in one place, and ended somewhere completely different.
Since being away from home I have been thinking a lot about comfort. What is comforting, what makes us feel comfortable. I have been thinking a lot about what comforts I’ve been missing since being away. Two things that are comforting to me are the ocean, and the night sky. At home I spend hours looking at the starry sky nearly every night of the summer. Here in Siena, I still have the sky acting as a comfort, but I am missing the ocean. This project started as a diptych of my two favorite sources of comfort, one that I have here, and one that I’m missing. I wanted to paint the sky and the ocean as calm and tranquil as they make me feel. However, on the last night of painting them, I was told that my home in Maine is being sold. Another huge source of comfort, the one house of many in the past 7 years that I have actually felt at home in. Because of this news, these paintings transformed into what they are now. Not calm, nor tranquil, nor comforting.
For the midterm project, I presented a photo project that I had been working on since arriving here in Italy. Through photographing my experience from the airplane to Italy, up through now, this catalog of photos acts as a sort of diary of my experience. This series shows the progress of my experience after shifting my ground, and the emotions behind it. The most prominent feeling I’ve had since being here is that of isolation. When I first arrived I felt isolated because of the language barrier, because of not knowing the area, and because I was forced to spend more time alone than I had in awhile. However, since learning more and more Italian, becoming familiar with the new landscape, and becoming more comfortable with being alone, that feeling of isolation has transformed and lessened as time has gone on. This project is a catalog of that progression.
I chose to present this project as negatives on the window in my studio. This window has also been a significant aspect of my progression here. Every single day when I arrive to school, I go straight to my window, open it, and look outside for a long time. This part of my routine makes me feel at home here. Rather than prints on the wall — that end on the surface on which they’re printed, that are final and unchanging — you can look right through negatives on the window, which are in progress, not in their final form. Rather than a large print, you need to get very close to a small negative, and even then you might not get the full picture. Everything about this presentation was very intentional, from the form in which the photos were shown, to the way in which they were rearranged. I arranged them chronologically, from right to left, then top to bottom. The earliest photos at the top of my window are barely viewable from the floor below. This aspect is important to the symbolization of my progress here. Not only are these negatives farther away because the memories of that time are farther away, but because when I first arrived here I was more closed and on guard, my thoughts less accessible to others. But as time passes, as I become more comfortable here, it becomes easier and easier to discern the images. Lastly, the negatives obscure the light coming through the window, just as the feeling of isolation obscures your ability to experience and understand your situation.
Reading response to “Unstable Territories”:
What struck me most when reading Unstable Territories was some of the questions that are put forth, specifically in the first excerpt.
“What happens when we shift our ground, willingly or unwillingly?”
“When we find ourselves in a new country, a new country and a new language?”
“How do we cope with the stress of being welcomed by some, demonized by others?”
All of these question will apply to each traveller differently, especially when it comes to the differentiation of those who shift their ground willingly versus unwillingly. I count myself lucky to be on new territory by choice, coming to a new country because I want to. But nevertheless, the change and adjustment still feels monumental. Despite the fact that I am surrounded by kind, new friends; a previous relationship; and a welcoming host mother, I can’t help but feel an extreme sense of isolation since being here. I attribute this feeling mostly to the language barrier. Being in a new country in which the main language is one that I don’t yet speak, it is very easy to feel very alone when I’m not surrounded by friends. There is also the ever wavering sense of safety day to day. I have already had many encounters that have made me feel not just uncomfortable, but unsafe, and I know that I would not feel so uneasy if I knew the language or the area better than I do. Navigating this new territory is exciting, but scary. A lot of my drive to become acclimated as quickly as possible comes from the desire to feel completely comfortable when I’m alone.
These questions from the reading are driving the inspiration behind my midterm project- I want to be able to represent the emotions attached to navigating a new territory. This might be through a type of diaristic photo project, or perhaps something else. But I want to communicate the conversation that goes on within oneself when you shift your ground.
Tempo Zulu / Coordinated Universal Time Intro Unit Project:
Ever since I arrived in Siena I have been thinking a lot about the contrast between the city within the walls, and what lays outside of them. This is because I live outside the walls, and everyday when I take the bus to and from the city, I watch the skyline change before my eyes. I live in the suburbs, with an expanse of countryside behind my house. This view is so different to the one you see when inside the walls, being surrounded by people and buildings. I wanted to design a set of stones that highlights the difference between what is inside the walls versus what is outside- and the different experiences you have in each place. So I designed a diptych of two separate skylines that flow into each other. The stone of the city skyline would be place out in the countryside, while the stone of the country skyline would be placed within the city. The idea being that you can’t understand the full picture unless you see both stones. Similarly, you can’t understand all of Siena unless you experience both the city within the walls and the country outside of them.
“Points of Entry” Intro Unit Project:
I had never heard the term interstitial in relation to spaces or art before. But now that I have, I feel that it really rings true with the type of art that I make. Although my artwork tends to carry consistent themes and ideas, I have been creating in a very wide range of mediums my whole life, and especially since I’ve been at college. I work in drawing, including pen, pencil, and sometimes charcoal; painting, with acrylic, watercolor, and oil; sculpture with steel, wood, and many other materials; embroidery; and finally analog photography. I love being able to move through different mediums in order to express myself and convey different ideas.
Emily Warnock, USA
My name is Emily Warnock. I grew up in both California and Maine, and now I am a third year student at Hampshire College in Western Massachusetts. I study the relationship between mental health and visual art making. I work in many different mediums such as analog photography, drawing, painting, sculpture with wood and steel, embroidery, and more. I am studying at the Siena Art Institute to continue to experiment with new mediums and explore my personal style.
Previous artwork by Emily Warnock: