IP Hours for the Week of 11/22 to 11/28

Total Hours: 15 hours

Interviewing people
Finishing 1st papercut

I'm thankful for Thanksgiving break; I finally had the time to devote myself to a full size papercut. Pictures to come soon. Now that I've gotten over the hurdle of actually making something, my new goal is to tackle the display aspect, making a frame and so on.

IP Hours for the Week of 11/15 to 11/21

Total Hours: 9 hours

Preparing for senior center interviews
Talking with Agnes & Gloria
Transcribing interviews
Preparing for second week of interviews
Working on papercut

IP Hours for the Week of 11/8 to 11/14

Total Hours: 8 Hours

Visited the senior center/met with people
Finished grant proposal/application
Worked on template for paper cut
Finished reading Listening is an Act of Love

Here is my proposal narrative (a concise and cleaned up version of my project proposal):

Memories-those of my parents and grandparents, friends and strangers-have always fascinated me. I diligently preserve my own memories in photographs and journals. In my current project I will illustrate the memories of others. With my own art I hope to help and inspire both the participants and the audience to preserve their important memories and communicate those recollections with the people around them.
I plan to interview and connect with peers, family member and members of a senior center. I chose to focus on these three demographics because I am interested in how the sharing of memories has the ability to link us together across generations. I will be speaking with people from at least three different age groups, with whom I have varying levels of intimacy. I will interpret and illustrate those memories with multi-layered 11in x 17in paper cutouts intended for gallery spaces. The layers will be hung with a small space separating them, in order to emphasize how fragments of memory come together to create a whole. In paper cuts, the image emerges from what is made absent. Therefore, paper cuts are an appropriate and poetic medium to capture the immateriality and the embedded loss of memories. I want to use the layers and transparency of my cutouts to suggest the atm­osphere (colors, emotions, dialogue, and so on) and complexity of memories.
I aim to produce five to ten large-scale posters for gallery spaces. In addition, I would like to give small prints to the people I interview, so that they can hold onto this visual representation of their memory and share it with their friends and families. I plan to accomplish this by photographing the final pieces or by using the laser cutter to produce multiples. Another possible component of the project would be a small booklet, with one spread for each subject. These booklets will combine the directly transcribed text of each interview with the imagery I produce, serving as a catalogue of the exhibit.
While I chose not to work with Alzheimer’s patients, this incurable disease is a crucial part of what motivates my desire to share and preserve memories. If I could eventually sell my end products to bring a small amount of aid to Alzheimer’s research, I would be thrilled. My goal is that this body of work will serve as a catalyst for reflection, stirring up the memories of my viewers through shared fragments of another person’s memory. Through a disconnected element of someone else’s story, we are often reminded of things long forgotten.
            I’m currently in contact with two women at the Ann Arbor Senior Center who will be participating in the project. I will continue practicing and improving my illustration techniques, developing the specifics of my displays, experimenting with materials, and researching published writings about memory. I aim to complete the interviews early next semester, to allow ample time to finish the paper cuts and produce multiples.

November 15th

This has nothing to do with my project per-say, but I love paper and most things made of paper. So there you have it. Watch these awesome paper animations by Johnny Kelly.

In other news, I'm incredibly excited to go hang out with my new friends at the Senior Center tomorrow. I've got my tape recorder charged and my notebook ready. I also came across this quote by Muriel Rukeyser that I think really speaks to the outlook of my project: "The universe is made of stories, not atoms."

November 9th

Today I went back to the Senior Center to find volunteers and I met the two sweet ladies that make up the knitting club. I got a chance to explain my project to them and get to know them a little bit. I'm going to be coming back to spend time with them talking about their childhood memories every Monday for several weeks. I, thankfully, now have two great and wiling participants. One of them came to the US from Germany at age 22; she grew up during the War and under Hitler. Her experiences will be a great contrast to the other woman's, who grew up here. 

Onto the breakthrough: I'm not going to solely focus on working with senior citizens. One part of this project is looking at the ability the sharing of memories has to link us together. That means people of all generations and of differing social relations to one another. I'd like to do at least 6 posters: 2 about memories from people my own age, 2 from people my parents age, and 2 from people my grandparent's age. I'm going to work with strangers, friends, family, and acquaintances. The string that will hold my body of work together will be the types of memories I ask about.

Right now, I plan to use the framework of significant "turning point" memories. Memories about growing up in the elementary-middle school range. Memories where something changed or they realized something new. I'll try to direct my questions in a manner that keeps my focus narrow.

IP Hours for the Week of 11/1 to 11/7

Total Hours: 12
Visiting Senior Center
Working on grant application (Revising proposal, researching costs, writing budget, etc.)
Interviewing a friend for a practice papercut
Reviewing/transcribing interview

Sketching plans for a practice papercut

Preparing for presenting my project at the Senior Center

Tomorrow, I'm going to the Senior Center during their lunch to talk to people about the project and find some volunteers. Hopefully it goes well and I won't have to use my backup plan.

Practicing with my friend has been extremely helpful. I learned that if you stay quiet, people will generally keep talking and adding details and pieces to the story. It also gave me a chance to test out my little voice recorder and get a sense for planning a paper cut from listening to the memory over and over. I'm hoping to have a full-size layered paper cut done by the end of this week.

I've been reading a book called, Listening is an Act of Love, that was given to me by a friend. Despite the ridiculously cheesy title, it has been really valuable because it's about a project that closely relates to my own. The book is excepts of stories from a collection created by a non-profit organization called StoryCorps. Their mission statement is "to honor and celebrate one another's lives through listening."They invite people to bring a family member or friend to one of their recording booths and interview them; every conversation is recorded on a free CD to take home and share with others. The interviews are also saved in the Library of Congress and many stories are broadcasted on NPR. StoryCorps was started in 2003 and it is the largest oral history project of it's kind.

November 3rd

I went back to the Senior Center today and the sign-up sheet was not even there anymore. The employees weren't sure where it went. One told me that I could always come give a little presentation about what I'm doing during one of their lunches on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays and people would be more likely to respond to that. I'm going to get my stuff together to do that next week. Hopefully after that I'll have some volunteers and will finally be able to actually start my real project.

I'm interviewing a friend about a memory today as practice for listening and interpreting and so on. I can use the papercut from that to show potential volunteers exactly what it is I'm doing.

IP Hours for the Week of 10/25 to 10/31

Total Hours: 8 hours

Contacting Senior Center
Creating a flyer for the Senior Center
Dropping off/Posting Flyers at the Senior Center
Rewriting Paper Proposal
Working on Personal Papercut