My grandmother inspired me to create my artwork. I would always remember my Grandmother would say, “rice is gold”. Taken on its surface this could mean that this simple food provides sustenance for millions of people and is a staple in dishes from many cultures. Looking at it metaphorically I realized it could mean to use my resources wisely, in life and in art.
I first started interpreting my grandmother’s statement by working with mussel shells I had collected over the summer. I had originally thought about referencing the environment and our exploitation of its’ resources through these shells. After research and more consideration, I found that shells are used as shelter and tools for animals such as sea otters. Transforming shells into shelter made me think of a project I had done transforming the texture of an object with a contrasting material. In that project I transformed a brick, an object used in construction for building shelters, by covering it with short pieces of yarn, a material used to make items of comfort and warmth. I spent hours thinking about how to transform the shells. I spent hours crushing mussel shells. I combined them in a soap mold with the resin to make beautiful bars of to show their worth, like bars of gold. But what I found, and what I learned, was the process of making the bars, and the extra materials left over in that process, were the real gold. I started using my resin and shell molds for stamping and printing, but this time consciously thinking of the process and my materials. I started looking at my materials with my grandmothers saying in mind. How many prints could I get from one inking? When I was done printing the bars, how could use the ‘unused’ ink? What could I do with the left-over inked paper? When I had left over inked paper, I stitched them together and combined them to make something whole. The process and the content became one. I continue to use my materials in multiple ways, not wasting anything.
Since Covid shifted the space and materials I had to work with, I started looking at home and personal space as my media. My friends and family spend most of their time in their bedrooms. I decided to incorporate that into my work. I made blueprints of the floors in my home, and I started recording the audio of the sounds of my family from various rooms in the house. Elusive silence is now the, “rice is gold”. I noticed when my remote math class was over, I had piles of crumpled worksheets on the floor. I decided to collect them, shred them and blend them into pulp, giving my math frustrations new worth by making them into new sheets of paper.
My grandmother’s wise words, “Rice is Gold”, proved more meaningful than I thought when she said them. They helped me realize that the process and materials were equal “gold”. I just had to find their worth.