Some Project Ideas
By Marissa Gravett, Dog(s) and Insect(s)

Started on: 05/09/13 02:01:47
Medium: Visual

This week, we were asked to talk about our previous projects and ideas for future projects. I have two very different ideas for a final project. My first idea is to do something with insects. I am currently in an insect class so I have been learning a lot about them. I have an interesting relationship with insects. Before I studied abroad in Costa Rica, I was terrified of all insects. After being surrounded by the most unique insects in the world and after taking several classes about them, I have found a new appreciation for them. Most people have a fear of insects and think of them as disgusting. I would be interested in doing some kind of collaboration that allowed people to see how interesting they truly are. After my collaboration with a ladybug in “Ladybug Memorial Service,” I had the idea of maybe doing a performance piece where I attempted to “save” insects so that people can appreciate them more. Insects are a class of invertebrates within the arthropod phylum. They have a three-part body with 3 pairs of legs, compound eyes, and a pair of antennae. Most humans regard them as pests, but are very environmentally beneficial as predators.

When I did my mini project labeled “Step by Step,” I got really interested in the idea of a footprint. I had the idea of working with the dogs at the Dog Adoption and Welfare Group. These dogs are rescued from high kill shelters and are put up for adoption until they find their forever homes. The personalities of shelter dogs vary by individual, although the ones that I have had the chance to get to know have all been really sweet and affectionate. They greatly enjoy when people spend time with them. I believe that they feel fortunate to be given a second chance at life. I had the idea of taking the footprints of a bunch of the dogs there and arrange them in a meaningful way. A footprint indicates presence. Their presence would not be there if they had not been saved by organizations such as DAWG. The footprints would be a reminder of the presence of all of those dogs who they have given a second chance at life. I am still trying to elaborate on this idea and make it more of collaboration with the dogs.

day old puppy

a dog that got adopted "Keno"

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Comment by LisaJ (06/06/13 15:45:17):
That puppy picture is amazing!

Project Updates
06/06/13 20:58:22 - Plans for Final Project

For my final project, I have decided to collabor¬ate with the dogs at Dog Adoption and Welfare Group (DAWG). I have decided that I want to continue working with foot prints and focus on the idea of "presence." I had the idea of recreating Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood where all of the celebrities make footprints and sign their names in cement. I want to do this for the dogs at DAWG. I will make tiles made of plaster where I push their paws into the plaster and then carve their names out. I will change the font of the name to try and match their personalities. For instance, if the dog is a small and dainty Chihuahua, I will draw his or her name in cursive. If the dog is a bouncy puppy, I will draw the name in a way that looks like toddler wrote it etc. I will buy tin lasagna dishes from the grocery store to ensure that all of the tiles are the same shape. I want to take up a majority of the gallery's floor so I was thinking of making 25 tiles total (5 across and 5 down), which would take 25 dogs. The meaning behind this would be that the dogs at DAWG would be collaborating with me to assert their presence that they would not have if they hadn’t been rescued by DAWG and given a second chance at life. If DAWG did not rescue them from the county shelters that euthanize when they are overpopulated, then they would not be here today, having their ability to emphasize their presence. This is why I want to collaborate with them to help them assert their presence.

I am nervous to begin this project because I have never worked with plaster before. I also don’t know how I will approach this process. It may be difficult to contain the dogs until the plaster is ready for the imprint. The other day, I decided to do a test tile with my own hand print. When I did this, I only had about 5 minutes until the plaster was completely hard. This might pose a problem when I am trying to round up the dogs in a speedy manner. On the day that I go to DAWG to get the imprints, I hope to have some friends who can help me. My roommate offered to help with mixing the plaster since she has a lot of experience working with plaster. My other friend who is also a volunteer at DAWG offered to help me take the dogs out of their kennels to be imprinted. They could also help me dip the dogs’ paws in soapy water right after their prints are done so that the plaster doesn’t dry on their paws.

I contacted the director of Dog Adoption and Welfare Group and told her about my idea. She was very enthusiastic about my project and approved me to follow through with it.

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06/06/13 21:33:34 - Work Day: Failures and Successes

Yesterday, I went to DAWG to start my project. Unfortunately, the friends who offered to help me with my project were unable to help so I was on my own. DAWG is open to the public for limited hours so I was pressed for time since I had class for a majority of the day. I started by setting up my supplies in an open kennel. I then asked the kennel staff if they had any recommendations for a mellow dog to begin with. I wanted to start with an easygoing dog who wouldn’t mind me touching their feet and then work my way up to more difficult dogs once I got the hang of it. The staff told me to get a small Rat Terrier named Diamond. I poured the plaster and waited for it to become the right consistency. I then pushed Diamond’s paws into the plaster and quickly wrote her name in cursive. She was fairly compliant with letting me get her paw print. She was such a sweet dog and I really enjoyed collaborating with her. The next dog’s name was Cheeto, a stubborn Chihuahua. He was a great dog to spend time with but when it came down to pushing his paw into the plaster, he did not handle it very well. He squirmed and dragged his paw through the plaster, ruining the print he had made and therefore ruining the tile. This was extremely frustrating for me.

After trying this a few more times and dealing with the same problem, I came to the conclusion that most dogs do not like being restrained and having their paws touched. I should have known this since before since most dogs hate being restrained and having their nails trimmed at the animal hospital that I work at. As my time was running out and my frustration increased, I realized that I had to think of a plan B. The pressure was on since DAWG was close to closing up for the night. As a volunteer who has spent over 50 hours at DAWG, I have the privilege of being able o take any dog I want for the day or over night. I decided that I needed to take a dog home so that I had a collaborator to work with. I still wanted to work with plaster and the idea of presence in a footstep so I took home the first dog I worked with, Diamond. She was one of the only dogs who let me take her print without much stress on her or me. I figured my taking her home for the night she could help me with my project and I could help her by giving her a stress free home to spend the night in instead of a metal cage with multiple other dogs. I am glad I took Diamond home last night because she helped me create a project that I was really proud of.

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06/07/13 22:40:41 - Final Project Exhibition "Presence in Stepping Sto

For my final project exhibition, I decided to use only one dog, Diamond, instead of multiple dogs at DAWG. I created a stepping-stone for each major step in Diamond's life. I also incorporated the idea of presence in a footprint. I found out Diamond's history to see what kind of life she had before she came to DAWG. She was owned by an older woman who loved her very much. When the owner died of cancer, Diamond was given to a county animal shelter to be put up for adoption. Unfortunately, most county animal shelters are kill shelters, meaning they euthanize animals when their shelters are over populated.

I made 7 plaster tiles and sprayed them with a textured spray paint to make them look like stepping-stones. The first tile had Diamond's footprints and the word "ALIVE" on it for the day she was born. The second tile had "FAMILY" on it for her entrance into the family of the older woman. The third tile had "LOSS" on it for when Diamond's owner passed away. Next, the word "RELOCATE" was on the 4th tile for when she went to the country shelter. All of these tiles up to this point had footprints. After "RELOCATE," the step stones split into a fork. To the left was a tile with the word "GONE." This tile did not have a paw print. This tile represents what would have happened to Diamond if she hadn't been rescued from DAWG. She would have been put on the list to be euthanized due to over crowding. The right side of the fork had a tile that said "SECOND CHANCE" which represents Diamond's second chance at life after being taking off the euthanasia list and rescued by DAWG to give her the chance to find her forever home. This tile did have a footprint. The last tile said "PRESENT" and had the day's date. This tile emphasized Diamond's current presence. To further extend this idea, I brought Diamond to the gallery to show the audience her presence and so she could assert her own presence. I wanted there to be a comparison between what her future would have been like if she went to a county shelter and was euthanized versus her current life since she had been rescued by DAWG. DAWG is a very special place for me that has had a large influence on my life. I am glad that I was able to incorporate their message into my art project so that more people can realize how many dogs can be saved from euthanasia and given a second chance at life.

Overall, I had great reactions to my piece. The most memorable was a group of girls who really liked Diamond when they met her and after seeing my piece, desperately wanted to adopt her. Unfortunately they were study abroad students and were not able to adopt because they were going back to England in a few weeks. Regardless, they viewed the rest of the pieces in the show while holding Diamond in their arms, which was really special to see. Lastly, the people at DAWG were very appreciative of my project as they are always looking for new ways to get their message across.

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06/07/13 23:58:22 - Pictures

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