BIKINI LINES: GLOBAL SCALE COLLABORATIVE MULTIMEDIA PROJECT: To Benefit Children Affected by the 2011 Tohoku Tsunami & Subsequent Meltdown
Many people have asked me why I have gotten involved with Bikini Lines. The answer was simple, not only does the project fit with the kind of work I am doing but it is also a great chance to be part of something that will be placed in history.
From the time that I left the Army my work has been about time and the fragility of life. I started my new work after a trip to China where I discovered the ancient art of paper cutting. I started making connections between this, my own style of art and my time in the military.
As an artist I have also believed in doing work that not only speaks to people, but helps them as well. Many of the projects I have been involved with have been fundraisers and public works to improve the visual aspects of an area, or to reach people in a new way.
This project has all the concepts of a public work that hit home for me. Bikini Lines is a project to paint the world’s largest painting on the cactus dome in the Marshal Islands. More than being part of the world’s largest painting, it is exciting to be part of something that is going to help the orphans of the disaster in Japan in 2011.
I am including links to Bikini Lines for those who would like to get involved and also samples of my work for the Bikini Lines.
As I stated the ideas started after I left the military and started getting back into art. As a soldier I saw many things that not only influenced my art but my life in general. One thing that I came to realize during my time in the military is how fragile life is. While we all know that we can die at any time, seeing death and disaster gives you a different perspective on life. The biggest influence of this was my time at the World Trade Center. During the first two days I worked as security at the entrance for the on site morgue. We watched as people walked past us with body parts in buckets and bags on their way from the lines to the morgue. On the second and third day I was asked to work on the bucket brigade itself. We start at the rear of the line, passing in empty buckets and and passing out buckets full of rubble. When the person at the front of the line finds something they either bag it or put it in a bucket and take it to the morgue, making the person in the second place to move forward to the digger.
When it came to my turn I found something that became stamped in my mind, what appeared to be a small hand. After turning it in I went back to the line to pass the buckets. What I found interesting about the line is that there I was standing between FBI, ATF, FEMA, and other government agents and civilians, none of them talking about who was in charge but simply doing their part in the recovery.
Just when we started to get a good rhythm going there was a rumble and scream, looking over we could see the front of Tower 7 coming down. As people started to run out, my military training kicked in and I started directing them instead of running. As people ran past someone knocked me over causing me to hurt my neck and back. After a short hospital stay I was back at the World Trade Center giving out supplies to units and organization down there and filling in where needed.
The pain continued in my neck and back as my C5 was twisted and stuck. At the end of Oct. the unit was deployed to West Point Military Academy where we served as part of Home Land Security for Operation Enduring Freedom. While there I continued to have pain in the neck and back, than one day I woke up and had no feeling in the left side of my body and could not move my neck. I was transported to Walter Reed Medical Center where I had a discectomy between C5 and C6.
While I felt better I continued to have problems and could not do certain things. in 2003 when my unit was getting ready to deploy to Iraq the military doctor at the readiness center declared me unfit for deployment and stamped my paper work. When you are unfit for deployment the army lets you go. So just like that 14 years of service was over, I was out of the military trying to start my new life. Not sure in what direction I wanted to go.
I returned to school to finish my degree, and started working full time on my art…
I first discovered (I say discovered like I found a new country, but I mean it in the personal sense) paper cutting on a visit to China in 2004. I was there as part of a exchange program, when I went back to school for my degree in art. While there we visited the city of Foshan, where there was a school of paper cutting. I immediately saw the possibility of making this part of my art.
So I went to the instructor and asked “Are there books or videos I could buy to learn paper cutting?”
She said “NO, to learn you would have to come here for three years to study under a master.”
So I asked “Okay, how about these tools do you sell them?”
She said “NO, you would have to come here to study for three years.”
So I asked “Okay, can I come here and study?”
She said “NO, you are not Chinese.”
After I moved to China I started visiting the school observing the technique for paper cutting and practicing at home. This gave me a greater sense of my idea for my paintings. I started working on my paintings as a style of my paper cutting and my style of paint by numbers, a POP stye of work I started during that time.
I formed the paintings as painting lines in a Chinese line painting, laying the canvas down and painting the lines. I would than put an underline color on the canvas of blue that would help the other colors stand out. Using a dead pallet and the color orange I would fill in the spaces with paint just like a color by numbers. The designs in the the water and sometimes in the background is something that I picked up from visits to rural areas of China, Korea, and Japan. Similar designs were painted on cloth by minority groups in China. I felt that the designs fit well with the ideas of mixing contemporary and traditional forms of art, and it gave me an area to express my ideas about thoughts behind the paintings.
There was a definite influence from my time in Asia and my time in the military in this design. The original design as the combination of a Japanese style flower, both in design and colors, and the Atomic bomb. I wanted to design the flower as if it was exploding out on the cactus dome… with the idea that it could also retract.
I than thought about the idea of making the design more simple to create and adding a touch of the digital age, as this project deals with current disasters with some nuclear elements from today, but that will be placed on nuclear reminders of the past. All the time remembering that it is about the design of hope (That is where the flower comes in)
Than with suggestions from Christian I thought about adding the QR code. At first it did not seem to fit in with just a blue background, but I want to make this happen, so I started playing with the color, and thought, why not keep the original colors in the new design.
If chosen this may not be the exact way that it looks, it may need to be adjusted due to the structure of the dome, but it will be close to this..
Though there is no guarantee that I am going to win this project, I am glad to be able to share my ideas of this project as I feel it really fits with the concepts of the overall project. I am enjoying working on this project, and look forward to it coming to completion and that I am able to help make that happen.
If you like my concept and my design I hope that you go to the flicker link and vote for me.