Tanisha Anderson. Yvette Smith. Miriam Carey. Shelly Frey. Darnisha Harris. Alesia Thomas. Sandra Bland. Only seven names in a very long list of black women victim to police brutality. When asked about a social cause I wanted to highlight, I knew I wanted to produce some kind of memorial for these women, as we as a culture find ourselves desensitized to this unfortunately common occurrence.
Having then decided to do chess pieces and a gun as a symbolism for violent political power play, I first carved my king and queen out of soap. My experience differed immensely from my expectations, as I found the soap itself very lending to manipulation but myself unskilled in making the circles even all around. The soap also hardened as we continued to work, becoming a foreign texture every day, which was interesting to work around. I thought I would work the soap more like marble, with a chisel and hammer, but instead found it more like grating cheese very slowly, which led to the smoother and rounder look that I needed. Overall I think I did well fashioning the two pieces, as they appear very much like real chess pieces.
The hand molding was the real challenge for me. I’m super stubborn and wanted to keep the idea of the gun, because I felt it solidified the idea of violence in my sculpture, so even though Ms. Kerrigan warned me that it wouldn’t end well, I did it anyways. And boy did it not end well. Fingers broken, sometimes only half-filled with plaster, unattractive glue lines and on and on and on. My last attempt I didn’t know that the alginate would harden with exposure to air, and then had to shave it, hardened, with an exacto knife, which was much harder and much less precise than doing so when the alginate was still damp. If I get the chance to work with alginate again, I for sure will try other forms to try to become familiar with how the material works.
In the future, I think I will spend less time on the individual components on focus rather on the piece as a whole. As of right now, I think my work feels a little disjointed, not fitting together as nicely as I would like. Still, it was an educational and fun experiment in form and medium.
To read more about police violence against black women: http://time.com/3965032/sandra-bland-arrest-video-police-violence/