Monday, April 21, 2014

Re-Facing Project/Body Mask Studio Final

When we began our final project in studio, we were asked to study/research another culture we were unfamiliar with and put together a board and mask that related to their own interests/creation story. I chose to focus on the culture of Hungry.

Below is an example of the board I created for my culture:
 
The images on the board all illustrate important aspects of the Hungarian culture. Beginning with the Black Pottery of the Mohacs. This pottery has been made within the Hungarian culture since it began; however, it has changed somewhat through time. The Hungarians used to believe in a mythological beginning/creation of time (which involved a "world tree") however that belief has since been lost in popularity due the adoption of Catholicism in approx. 978 A.D. The black pottery made by this culture illustrates popular beliefs at the time it was made-making an interesting historical artifact. The pottery also illustrates the cultures love for folk art in the patterns shown on the pots. Embroidery is also a very important aspect of Hungarian culture, and is held with high regard within their communities due to its elaborate intricacy. Lace making is something done by women for family members or close friends going through important life events such as weddings or baptisms. The lace is displayed within the home in special places and is a very sentimental object. Lastly, the costumes/masks shown in the upper right hand side of the board are an illustration of a festival held each year before Ash Wednesday (it lasts a week, ending the day before Ash Wednesday).
 
From there I created a mask embodying the culture of Hungry.
 
 
I chose to make the mask as more of a representation of the culture, rather than a literal translation; pulling from different aspects of what I learned about the culture I came up with this design.
  • The black is a representation of the black pottery of the Mohacs
  • The hand embroidered flower (done by myself) represents the embroidery held in high regard by the Hungarian culture
  • The black lace is a representation of the lace women make for loved ones during special occasions.
  • And lastly the feather represents the "animalistic" costumes worn during the week long festival held annually. 
After completing this study on Hungarian culture I began working on my own creation story. I knew when beginning this project that I wanted to focus on the creation of Butterflies to honor my mother-my own personal creator. With that in mind I wrote my story:
 
Travel back to a time long past and stroll through the land of the rolling fields.  There you will find a lonesome budding flower, in a sea of his brethren, eager to stretch and feel the coming warmth of the new day.  The flower enjoyed spending its days basking in the radiant energy of the sun but what it loved above all else was to dance freely with the wind.  There was something about surrendering itself to the will of the wind that made the flower feel as if it were in harmony with the world.  However, the flower had a secret desire that he dared not share with those around him. The flower wished that one day he might be able to follow the path of the wind and dance with it whenever and wherever the desire struck him, but alas he was stuck.
On one fateful day, as the bright sun inched its way towards the clear sky above, the flower felt a tickle moving its way slowly up his stem.  By the time the sun reached the top of the sky, the flower knew the cause of the itchy sensation as a young caterpillar climbed onto his pedals.  The flower was about to tell the caterpillar to go away and that he wasn’t on the menu, but it was then that a light breeze had rolled in and the caterpillar suddenly did something very odd and unexpected.
Instead of taking a mouthful out of one of the flower’s pedals, the caterpillar raised itself up and stretched its body tall.  The flower could see that the caterpillar was mesmerized and moved by the sight it beheld.  “What is it you see?” asked the flower but the caterpillar didn’t seem to hear.  The flower turned ever so slightly only to catch a glimpse of all of the other flowers in the field dancing with the wind.  “Have you never danced with the wind?” asked the flower, startling the caterpillar back to reality.  “Why no” said the caterpillar, “I could never be that graceful”.   “But surely you can”, replied the flower, “You are free to move about where you will, unlike we who are stuck and cannot move to where the wind goes”.
The caterpillar and the flower became fast friends.  Over the passing days, the flower would teach the caterpillar to dance with the wind while the caterpillar would tell tales of its journeys through the land.  One day while the caterpillar and flower were dancing, a fierce storm had rolled over the field and with it came a harsh and angry wind.  It was a wind the flower had never known before.  The flower wrapped its pedals around the caterpillar in an effort to protect it from the gusts, but it seemed like the storm would never end.
All of a sudden a powerful gust came through, stronger than any other before.  It was so strong that no matter how hard the flower had tried to hold on, he couldn’t keep himself and the caterpillar from being flung straight into the air.  They had no idea what to do let alone how to save themselves from their impending doom.  When things looked their bleakest, the caterpillar grabbed ahold of the flowers pedals and used them to glide their way through the storm.  Just when they thought they were out of danger, BAM! They were struck by a stunning, blinding light and they fell to the ground.
After the storm had passed and when they had come to, they realized that they had become one.  Soon they understood that what they had desired separately had come true.  They now had the ability to not only dance with the wind but also travel alongside it, wherever and whenever they willed.  The duo had decided to give themselves a new name, one that would symbolize the union of freedom and beauty and that name was Butterfly.
From there I began brainstorming ideas on possible costumes I could wear during the final presentation. I knew I wanted to do something that I could transform out of, or into during my presentation; but I had to figure out how to do that in a seamless manner... Below are some sketches done for possible costume ideas...
 



After some thought I began "hitting" on the right note, coming up with a costume design that I felt would work well with the story line and the idea of "transformation" that I felt would add to the presentation. The following sketches were the costume ideas I went through leading me up to the actual design I would use:

 

 
After solidifying the final design I would work with/create for the presentation, I then did some quick sketches for the "props" I'd use/wear in the presentation while acting out the story.

 
 
*On a side note: I also did a quick precedent study on caterpillar's because I knew I wanted a certain one to represent the caterpillar in the story. The caterpillar I was looking for is called the Yellow Bear Caterpillar, which is one I frequently saw as a child in my yard. Again, incorporating my own personal creation into the storyline.
 
 
After figuring out the costume I would like to wear for the presentation, I began working on the physical pieces. I started by working on the "props"/accessories I would wear/use with the costume. I chose to crochet these pieces because it would add a bit of "me" into the project, keeping with the theme of my own creation being integrated into the story. From there I began working on the clothing. I knew I wanted a longer "maxi" length skirt made of a vibrant green shade that would allow me to look like a stem (for the flower). So a trip to the local fabric shop was required. After finding the perfect fabric, I began cutting into it and pinning it together in preparation for sewing. When sewing it together I made sure to allow it to be easily removed (allowing for a dramatic and seamless reveal of the butterfly skirt I would be wearing beneath it during the presentation). I achieved this by using a string closure rather then your traditional zipper/buttons. I then found, by chance and a great deal of luck, the perfect butterfly skirt at a local consignment shop. To add some more flare to it I sewed a few scattered sequins throughout the skirt to add to the dramatics of it during the presentation. With all of that completed, the costume was coming together quite nicely and all I had left to do was record the story and practice my performance.
 
I chose to have the story professionally read because I did not have the proper equipment to do it myself (it sounded very "gargly" and unprofessional when I practiced). However, I ran into a small snag when having the professional record my story... We (the class) were told to keep the video/audio under 3 min in total length, and with my original story I was running to about 3:40 or so. So, some editing needed to happen, which resulted in the following story:
Travel back to a time long past and stroll through the land of rolling fields.  There you’ll find a budding flower, in a sea of his brethren, eager to feel the coming warmth of the new day.  The flower enjoyed spending its days basking in the energy of the sun, but what it loved above all else was to dance freely with the wind.  There was something about surrendering itself to the will of the wind that made him feel as if he were in harmony with the world.  However, the flower had a secret that he dared not share with those around him. The flower wished that one day he might be able to follow the wind and dance with it whenever and wherever he desired, but alas he was stuck.
One day, as the bright sun inched towards the sky above, the flower felt a tickle moving its way slowly up his stem.  By the time the sun reached the top of the sky, the flower knew the cause of the itch as a yellow caterpillar climbed onto his pedals.  Just as the flower was about to tell the caterpillar that he wasn’t on the menu, a breeze had rolled in and the caterpillar did something unexpected…
Instead of biting into the flower’s pedals, the caterpillar raised its body tall.  The flower could see that the caterpillar was mesmerized by something.  “What do you see?” asked the flower but the caterpillar didn’t hear.  The flower turned only to see the other flowers in the field dancing with the wind.  “Have you never danced with the wind?” he asked, startling the caterpillar.  “Why no” said the caterpillar, “I could never be that graceful”.   “But surely you can”, replied the flower, “For you are free to move about where you will, unlike we who are stuck and cannot move to where the wind goes”.
The caterpillar and the flower became fast friends and over the days, the flower would teach him to dance while he would tell the flower tales of his travels. 
One day a fierce storm had rolled over the field and with it came an angry wind.  The flower wrapped its pedals around the caterpillar to protect him, but it seemed like the storm would never end.
Suddenly, a powerful gust came through, stronger than any other before.  It was so strong that no matter how hard the flower had tried to hold on, he couldn’t keep himself and the caterpillar from being flung straight into the air.  They had no idea how to save themselves from their impending doom.  When things looked their bleakest, the caterpillar grabbed ahold of the flowers pedals and used them to glide their way through the storm.  Just when they thought they were safe, BAM! They were struck by a blinding light and they fell to the ground.
After the storm had passed and the two awoke, they noticed that they had become one, realizing that what they had desired separately had come true together.  They now had the ability to dance with the wind and travel alongside it, wherever and whenever.  The duo had decided to give themselves a new name, one that would symbolize the union of freedom and beauty and that name was Butterfly.
With the edits made, the audio/video was the perfect length, and I was now able to practice my acting/dance for the presentation.
 
The video used for the presentation can be seen here.
 
My final costume is shown below:
 
 
I feel the presentation went really well. I was very nervous to begin with, as I've never acted in front of people before so my stomach was doing a few jumps. But after a few seconds, I was in the "swing" of things and found it to be quite fun! I felt that it went really well and would honestly love to do it again!


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