Jake Nolan

Final Project Statement: 

Pants Labyrinth

Look at the city. I had a thought that this place was all a show. A maze. A disorganized museum of countless apartments, countless lives, stacked up on top of each other and squished together. I was walking and I had a thought that every person living here is unknowingly collaborating on a great work of art. They live in a museum, and they are all the customers. But they are also the artists, and the art too.

Someone started the museum a long long time ago, but they were never able to finish, and so the babies were taught how to live too, and they all grew up to be artists because that’s all anybody can do.

And this is how they do it: they show each other their laundry. The clotheslines are where the private lives are thrown out the window and dangled out in the world. Floating above the streets, hung up to dry, flaunted from a wire by the window, flying like prayer flags or banners. Exposed and in the wind, is the evidence of a thousand lives and more, countless homes, families, experiences. Dirty, sweaty, sloppy people just like everyone you’ve ever met. They come home each day and take off their clothes, throw them in a pile with their other memories. And then all those grimy things get tossed in the wash together, and once sufficiently jumbled, exposed for the rest of the world to see. Little glimpses of each life.

I was looking up and I had a thought about living somewhere else, in a different country or city, in a stranger’s apartment, in someone else’s clothes. A place is more than it’s history, the real story is living and breathing and walking around a getting dirty and then getting naked and then doing it all over again every day. And the proof is hanging from the buildings right now, drying.

Mid-Term Project: 

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I am interested in the emotions certain places can evoke, and why, when  people are away from home, they find comfort in certain strange places. My piece is about feeling comfortable and feeling at home. It sets together two places that I have felt drawn to, Siena’s Piazza del Campo and a hillside on my college campus in the United States, where I study at Holy Cross in Massachusetts. Both places are large public spaces that resemble each other in shape and atmosphere, and both places attract similar behavior: people gathering to relax in a peaceful place that is set at the center of something much more chaotic. People are attracted to the curved shape and warmth that these areas offer. The fact that these places are personally important to me let me connect with the work, but I hoped to create something that represents to everyone a welcoming and warm atmosphere in a dreamlike, peaceful place, summoning up memories and demanding a reflection of individual experiences. Like fragments of a broken mirror, or fleeting pieces of memories, I tried to tie these places together in a fluid but fragmented, confusing but cohesive way.

Reading response to Jerry Saltz “What Art Is and What Artists Do” and Alfredo Jaar “On the Being of Being an Artist”:

These two articles were very interesting to me. Jerry Saltz had a very refreshing viewpoint to me. He seemed to be able to define art without putting it in a box, which i think is a hard thing to do. But more importantly, he convinced me of is essentialness. This is nice to be reminded of so articulately when, as a college student, I am often worried about the usefulness, meaning and value behind the subject I am dedicating so much time and money toward. Saltz explains that art is just another medium of explaining the world around us. Like science, it explains things how they exists, though in a very different way. It is just as real, just as useful, and just as necessary to human existence. This all made sense to me while I read it, but the next article really gave me the solid evidence supporting this idea, evidence that I craved. This piece by Alfredo Jaar is both saddening and inspiring, because, in short, it delves into many of the modern atrocities that have been faced around the world in modern history, and that are still affecting millions today. Jaar explains how art can help this things. It’s not a cure, it’s not a perfect solution, but it helps. Its helps alleviate pain, and it helps explain situations, and it helps inspire hope and help. As Saltz explains, it’s power is through osmosis, art is seen and heard and experienced, and once it is, it cannot be separated from thoughts and feelings. The way these two artists talk about the power of art, and their strong faith in this power, was really insightful and inspiring.

Response to “Shape of a Walk” by Rebecca Solnit:

“Guy Debord and the Situationists International,” was a fairly interesting read for me because I had no prior knowledge of situationists or of psychogeography, or really anything about this part of the history of European philosophical and art movements. The “Shape of a Walk,” article, though, really intrigued me. In my painting class we had been learning about Jackson Pollock and I gained a new appreciation for action painting and certain types of conceptual art where the subject of the piece is more of the process, not the product. So “The Shape of a Walk” reading was really interesting to me. It struck me that while a lot of conceptual art seems to need a lengthy explanation (and at some point, to me, this can take the emotion out of the work) here were some powerful examples of conceptual art that provoked real emotions, and did not need prior explanation. This examples of conceptual art that this article presents, mostly around the idea of walking, all seem personal and genuine. They all strike an emotional nerve that is at once very intimate and universal. One part of the article talks about Richard Long’s photographs of his walks, where he leaves “most of the journey up to the viewer’s imagination.” Its conceptual but in an open way, it doesn’t tell you what to think, it just demands that you think something. This is an idea that I think will stick with me.

Response to “Unstable Territories” readings: 

I liked how all of these writers (some more explicitly) touched on the importance of recognizing the paradoxes that exist when talking about borders. In the debate on globalization, it seems inaccurate, and totally futile, to propose that the blurring of cultural distinctions is something that is bad and should be avoided- but, on the other hand, individual and cultural identities shouldn’t necessarily be abandoned either. While globalization can mean imperialism, it can also mean unity and peace. While borders can separate people, they are also where new interactions are made- whether that border is physical, metaphorical, social, etc. One passage explains that “the exceeding of a limit coexists with its very affirmation.” All borders are crossed at some point, resulting in change or conflict, and this is why border regions, and times of change, produce unstable environments. This leads to protective reactions against the crossing of borders, against change, and in many cases against progress. One of the ongoing themes in this reading was that it should be understood that just because change and the crossing of all types of borders can result in detrimental events, the striving for cultural progress and peace between “others” should not be avoided.

“Tempo Zulu/ Coordinated Universal Time” Intro Unit Project:

With the Temple of Zulu installation project, many of the stones across the city were transformed from rather lifeless bricks to something new and inspiring. After working on my Gate project, this reminded me of what the people of Siena did to the area around the former Porta Giustizia. Here, they created a totally different, beautiful space with an entirely new purpose. I propose taking this concept of transforming the ordinary into something beautiful, and simply mirroring what was done in the park near that sealed gate. The stone I propose would be placed outside the entrance to the park. It would no longer be able to be walked on as before, being less a part of the path and more of an obstruction. A large part of its center would be cut out, filled with soil, and some plant would placed to grow inside of it- flowers, vines, a small crop, anything really.


“Points of Entry” Intro Unit Project: 

The gateways of Siena seem to be obvious, simple examples of interstitial space, being the vacant places between two defined entities, the city, and the rest of the world. But what then, would the sealed gate named the Porta Giustizia be? Is the interstitial space now the inside of the wall itself, or maybe the new space that lies in front of it. There is no right answer, but the area that interested me was the area directly inside the wall, where a very large garden was created, full of orderly crops and sprawling trees, a miniature countryside between the heart of the city and its encapsulating wall. When one space was closed off, another was created. It would be hard to call this park interstitial space though, because it isn’t vacant at all, it’s full, even overflowing. But then again, maybe that is just because it is easy to appreciate gardens. Because really, if you start examining any seemingly empty space, you realize that no space is really vacant at all- the term interstitial becomes arbitrary. Once you give meaning to the space in between places, it becomes a place of its own. Just like that, interstitial space just relies on your perspective.

In the park there is a large metal sculpture of a head, and while I don’t want to get into the specifics of that piece now, the sign for the exhibit talked about a journey without a destination. There is a road going through the park, that ends abruptly at the point where the former gate was sealed and the wall now blocks the way. This is literally a journey without a destination. But walking there, I thought that this the lack of destination didn’t take anything away from the journey that I was having on this sunny day in this beautiful garden. This got me thinking that, much like the term interstitial space, the journey/destination duality can also seem arbitrary at times, just two terms that we use to donate events to distinguish them from each other. For me, the destination did not exist, I was just walking. Accepting that there are no journeys and destinations, no spaces and interstitial spaces, I came to the simple conclusion that there are only places and the action of moving forward through them.

Interestingly enough, the Porta Giustizia is where the city of Siena would take its condemned criminals to lead outside and hang. For many people, this really was the last space they would move though, the last journey, and, as someone who is not religious, it represents a journey with no destination at all. But, just as the destinationless path in the garden was beautiful, this destinationless ending doesn’t seem to take away the meaning of the journey at all. So, I drew the road leading from the entrance of the garden to the sealed off wall, meandering through the wild looking garden, only to end suddenly. It is not exactly how the place appears in reality- but I tried to capture the allure and complexity of the place, the way every space flows into the next, and the beauty of a garden that is in no way diminished by the wall at the far end.



headshot-1Jake Nolan, USA

Bio statement:

My name is Jake and I am from Long Island, New York. I go to school at the College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester Massachusetts, where I am a Studio Art major, Italian minor. I am studying abroad for the whole year though, I arrived in Italy last July and spent the semester in Florence, which was a great experience. I like experimenting with new materials and mediums, though most of my work has been simply drawings. I am trying to develop a personal style. My experience with my own work ranges from purposefully thoughtful to drawing without any plans in a passively meditative- while I enjoy drawing from observation, I am often find myself drawing abstract patterns, things that seem meaningless but reflect my own states of mind.

Previous artworks by Jake Nolan: