G. Raff, spotted in the forest
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In order to visualize the internal struggle that happens when loss is experienced and grief takes hold, I blend the epic narrative of the hero's journey, puppetry, theatrical performance, and cast-paper sculptures into a multimedia body of work. My thesis exhibition, G.Raff, Spotted in the Forest, has three parts: the story itself, both written and performed, the fiber sculpture that visually supports the story, and the immersive environment that merges performance, cast-paper sculptures, textual elements, and artifacts from the performances. All of these separate components work in tandem to create a unique experience for the viewer, each providing additional context--each filling in what the other left out. In my written and performed narrative, the cyclical nature of the hero's journey and the cycle of death and rebirth in the natural world are intertwined. It is a story that involves three characters, and is focused on the transformation of the protagonist, the unlikely hero, G.Raff, who endures her grief in nature, and struggles to reconnect with herself and her surroundings. She struggles to break free of her insecurities and fears, and fails to see and truly experience what is hidden in plain sight. It is on her journey of healing through nature that she finds meaning through and beyond loss. G.Raff, Spotted in the Forest, uses a multimedia approach to create work that transports the viewer into G.Raff's world, to experience the lesson that is hidden beneath the surface. The combination of creative writing, performance, digital media and sculptural objects is used to enhance the experience of the viewer, creating an immersive environment that brings the story to life. The narrative is presented as documented theatrical performances, and uses video screens housed within cast-paper sculptures to draw the audience in, transforming them from spectator to active participant. As viewers peer into the sculptures that resemble segmented tree trunks, they are provided a lens into a life transformed by loss, and healed by nature, and are called upon to pay attention to the subtleties as G.Raff's journey unfolds. This written thesis takes the reader on a journey, and touches on a variety of topics that have influenced, or are directly related to the artwork featured in G.Raff, Spotted in the Forest. Beginning with puppetry and performance art, I discuss character development, as well as the decision to blend elements from both mediums into a theatrical performance, focused on endurance and ritual. This is followed by a section on storytelling, where I talk about allegorical literature, and how this genre greatly influenced my narrative decisions. The hero's journey, Aesop's Fables, and medieval bestiaries are discussed at length. The theme of forest bathing--connecting with nature using all of the senses--is woven into the entire thesis, as it is the crux of my artwork and of the story itself. In G.Raff, Spotted in the Forest, all of these topics merge together in an immersive exhibition that changes the way digital media is consumed; providing a space within the gallery that requires viewers to slow down, and be completely aware of their physical presence in relationship to the artwork. Puppetry, allegories, fables, and forest bathing all challenge the audience or participant to look beneath the surface, whether literal or figurative, and it is the challenge I present to the viewer in my thesis exhibition. It is only by engaging and looking very closely that the meaning hidden within the simplest forms can be found.
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