The original idea behind this project was twofold. First, I wanted it to be a culminating project that reflected the four years I have spent studying the arts and humanities. Second, I wanted it to show how the arts and humanities can change a space and I wanted to do this very physically. I wanted to show how the arts and humanities impact a space as a response to their undervalued position in our current society. I wanted to draw attention to the fact that they are present and make valuable contributions to society; contributions that would be missed if they were to disappear.
I chose to put the installation in the SASAH room in Weldon Library. It may, at first, seem unnecessary to put a statement about the impact of the arts inside a space that has already so clearly been transformed by the arts; however, using this space gives the work a cyclicality. For us students, the SASAH room is where it all began. Therefore, it is fitting that this is where it ends, a final project in the SASAH space.
To make the installation, I first cut arts and humanities texts into small rectangles. These texts range from celebrated authors like John Milton to writings done by SASAH students. There are many different sorts of texts including short stories, plays, essays, poems, artworks, dissertations, and how-to guides, just to name a few. The topics include queer theory, feminist theory, the mechanics of writing, fiction, art history, philosophy and many more. I wanted the texts to represent the range in styles and areas of study that the arts and humanities encompass.
The pieces of text were then pierced with a sewing needle and threaded onto fishing line. I used a pencil as my unit of measurement and glued each rectangle one pencil-length apart. The spacing is not exactly equal because many of the pages slipped slightly before the hot glue used to secure them dried. It was not meant to be precise and I used the pencil as more of a guideline to regulate how many pieces of paper were strung onto each line. I then knotted a paper clip to the end and slipped it between the ceiling tile and its frame. I put a small piece of masking tape over the paper clip to lightly secure it to the frame so that when I moved the ceiling tile to attach other strands, the previous ones would not fall out. The weight of the ceiling tile now keeps the strands secure without worry of the masking tape giving way.
It took approximately twelve hours to thread all of the rectangles, glue them in place, and attach them to the ceiling. This does not include the time it took to find the source material, print it, and cut it to size.
I could not have done this project without my classmates and this was very intentional. This project is for us, it is us. It is our cohort, our class, and us as individual students following our own scholarly interests within the arts and humanities. These are the texts that we read in class and learned from. They are texts written by the arts scholars who came before us. But they are also our own words. Words, built from our growing understanding of the field thanks to the knowledge passed down to us. These words are our own contributions to the arts and a continuation of its legacy. Over the past four years, we have made this together and I am honoured to have had the privilege of putting it together in this installation.