Stoic Portraiture

So doing this portrait made me feel stoic, in a good way, the kind of stoic you feel when you are reflecting back on your life, your hardships, and sufferings.The human face can be as easy to read as a book, but still one seldom knows what lays beneath the eyes, or expressions that others wear. Indeed, I would say I felt incredibly stoic throughout this whole project. looking at one’s self forces us to look at what is and what isn’t. We must face the reality, that our perception of what we look like is often wrong. If I were to take a snapshot of my mentally constructed me and the actuality of who I am, They wouldn’t line up.

 Self portraits represent the disconnect between our personal realities and the reality we all share.  Most people view themselves differently from the way everyone else does. Sometimes people view themselves in an overly harsh light. I am a constant critic, looking for faults in myself, finding some faults that do no not exist and others that I augment and others that I over look. Perhaps, the self portrait is a reflection of our pride, our hubris. 

I find that self portraits tend to be inaccurate no matter how good the artist, or how captivating the style. The portrait could look exactly like someone, but it would always be missing something. We are works in progress and yet our work is finite,  the artist is forced to stop working on it, and thus, the portrait is limited to a small period of time. Like a snapshot. 

to be quiet frank, I never liked looking at myself, Not because of my appearance, but because I find the outside of me never reflects the inside. I suppose it all comes back to be being stoic, remaining the same externally regardless of inner turmoil. 

Anyway, I found this project difficult to do because of my general dislike of looking at me, I much rather look at someone else, At least then my own bias is limited. I am not exactly pleased with my  final product, but then again, I never feel like anything is completed. I found that I learned a lot about slowing down and really observing shape value, and shade, and shadow. I am pleased with that which has been well observed. And not pleased with the areas that weren’t. But I imagine I will have time enough to correct the errors I made, and to observe some more… either over the summer or next year. 

I really enjoyed this class and have learned a lot and still have more to learn


Goals, Materials, and stuff.

1. the ill i attempted to combat is consumerism, wanting more, muchness, conspicuous consumption.

2. When you look into the bears crescent moon mirror, you see your self reflected without want, and as you look the bears energy replaces the consumer, with the generous individual, the individual who wants not.

3. I chose to use plastic because I wanted to convey clarity of mind, because into days society we cannot clearly see what we  need, only what we want. I chose to use cardboard for the snout and cardboard wrapped in silver tape for the crescent shape, because I felt it was necessary to capture some essence of what make this bear unique in terms of color. The snout and crescent shape are the only two parts of a sun bear which are brown.

4. I chose to make the shape as close to a bear as I could get, because I really wanted to convey the meaning which I saw in the stories I read; the shape was really a product of my  materials, because it could have been much more structurally accurate if i had chose to use cardboard instead of plastic. The reason why the bear is standing up, is because I was playing around with positions my bear could be in, I tried sitting down, standing up, on all fours, And I realized that standing up was the one which most conveyed what I was hoping to achieve. I wanted the crescent moon to both be prominent and visible; in addition, I enjoyed the sense of whimsy and lightness of being which the bear standing up created.

The sun bear… my thoughts on the whole process

This process was lengthy to say the least. I came in the project with a conception of what materials I would use and how the form would look, but over time, i began to refine my concept and construction, through the critique of others. I would like to thank three people for their criticisms and advice, Nell Ruby, Belinda hart,  and Jeremy Bradley. Each of these individuals gave me some piece of advice that moved me towards my final goal. On the first day of the project I met belinda, she is also a student who works with found things. She showed me her work, which was incredible, charming, whimisical, and meaningful; over the week in which the project took place, we continued to talk, and she offered me this peice of advice: 

“Come to the table without expectation, and just play.” 

In addition, she told me: 

“look at your source materials every time before you start. Its what I do, and people can tell the difference, and see what animal it is… Each animal has unique parts”

Well through out the project I followed this wisdom to the letter. I poured over dozens of pictures of sun bears, I sketched them, I looked at bone structures. I even watched videos. I  also played constantly and continually, sometimes for hours on end without producing any addition to my sculpture. I cut things up, taped or glued them together I melted different plastics, used different glue guns, used heat guns. And I refined my technique and structure through this process. I found that melting plastic using and engraver, makes certain plastics harder and more rigid, you can melt the seems together and this produces something rigid, however you cannot melt plastic onto the body because it falls apart. I also learned that different plastics, melt different ways. Sometimes it melts slowly and sometimes a little heat causes the whole thing to melt. The assembly of the bear was the most difficult part, it was exceedingly difficult to get certain things to look the way, they were meant to. The hot glue gun actually melted or warped some of the plastic and that was very problematic.  

I learned that having a plan is good but in art nothing ever goes the way you planned. So just role with the challenges and meet them with creativity. 


Sources Etc.

I encourage all of you to take a look at at least one of these links, they are all interesting, and not too lengthy.

Bile Farming (inside bile farms) (chinese medicine use of bile)

Jasper and rescue organizations (psychology today article on jasper) (rescue organization) (Animals Asia page on rescuing sun bears) (more on jasper) (jasper’s story, jill andersons interaction with jasper)

Addiction info

Jasper, the Moon/Sun Bear

When I initially started my resource, I began googling, greedy and generous animals. Nestled in a link to psychology today I found an article entitled:

Animals Can Be Ambassadors For Forgiveness, Generosity, Peace, Trust, and Hope,

which at the time seemed quite promising. I did not intend to become locked into creating this animal so early on, but I fell in love with the authors story about Jasper the Moon Bear (on yes, it is common to call a sun bear a moon bear and vise versa). It seems to me like I was fated to discover these animals and to have compassion for them, as my first word in English was moon and my first word in hungarian was viselik (bear), so combine the two and you get moon bear, but that is neither here nor there, and as per usual I digress. 

Jasper was a bear kept in a squeeze cage for the first 15 years of his life, he was rescued and brought to the United States by the animals Asia foundation. Once here, Jasper sparked a movement, his charismatic personality ,and his role as the ambassador within the animal sanctuary was noticed by everyone. 

“Jasper is the spokes-bear for forgiveness, peace, trust, and hope. I can’t thank Jasper enough for sharing his journey and his dreams. Jasper, like the dogs and cats who also need us, make us more humane and thus more human. The true spirit of humans, our inborn nature, is to help rather than to harm.”

Here are some before and after picture of jasper: 

A poster advocating against the use and purchase of sun-bear bile 


April 2008 |Jasper and Beau

A funny Jasper Moment Illustrated in the photos below: Jasper has never been anything but playful – the peacemaker of the whole sanctuary – but this time he’d gone a little too far. Rudely awakened from her dreams, Beau spun around in rage, snarling at the animal that had snatched away her peaceful slumber. And Jasper looked up at us with the most wonderful surprised look on his face, as if to say “What did I do?!” If I didn’t know better, I’d swear he was laughing… were we.


I feel like there perhaps is some resemblance between people and sunbears. 

Another unique thing about moon bears besides, there shining personalities, are there claws and feet. 

Other pictures of Sun Bears which inspired me: 

Want Not,

It will come as no surprise to most people, when I say, the world is fat and bloated on wants. Those who have too much already, strive to accrue more things, more stuff, that they don’t need; while so many people go without what they need, like clean drinking water, basic sanitation, and adequate nutrition. Simultaneously, people with means are so focused on what the want, they often forget to look at what they already have, and what they really need. This compulsory attention to need is not limited to the U.S.; however, the U.S. is the most forth right with its addiction. In fact, the unofficial motto of the U.S. is :BIGGER IS ALWAYS BETTER, MORE IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN LESS.

So, ,I chose to make a sun bear for one reason, the way it is treated and the reason behind the treatment of this animal. The Sun Bear is one of 8 species of bear; its habitat is in Asia, where it is treated with cruelty beyond measure. In China, Sun Bear bile, is a very valuable commodity, one teaspoon is valued at 25$ and prices are rising. 

“For the Purpose of traditional Chinese Medicine, the Bear is a walk in drugstore. Many parts of the bear, from fat to brain to spinal cord, have been used for a millennia. The most coveted medicinal part of the bear is the bile within the gall bladder, which gram for gram can exceed the cost of narcotics.”

In order to farm their bile, Sun bears are put in press cages, where they are squeezed and starved, and tortured to enforce submissiveness to the farmers. 




“The bears show their distress and suffering by banging their heads against the cage bars, gnawing on the bars, and at times tearing the flesh from their paws and arms in a futile attempt to deflect their thoughts from the main source of pain”

However, there is some hope, as kind, generous, and courage people do exist, no matter how scarce they may seem. Everyone has the potential to rescue one of these animals, Either through donating to rescue organizations or actually participating in one. 

In the next post, I will discuss the bear that got me so interested in this unique species and their treatment. 


My process in the illumination of the relationship between shy and bold

The process of finding cohesion both visually and intellectually was exceedingly long and exhausting. 

The first step in this process was overcoming my own bias and understanding of the words shy and bold. In society and in my life, these words are full of connotation, which somewhat dilute their true meanings. If a person is shy it is deemed either good or bad, positive and negative; if a person is called bold it has the same value burdened meaning. Even my mind map is evidence of these connotations. 

I eventually distilled the meaning of the words into a series of related nouns and adjectives. Shyness is being on the outside or inside afraid or hesitant to enter into the fold; it is a failure to be bold, to be willing to try new things, and engage in action that may be considered either bold or forward. Boldness is the willingness to be in the fold in the center of life, not only. Being bold entails going outside of the normal boundaries of society, of smashing the social norms. 




I then began to do my thumbnails, the process was long and tedious. I created the slightest variations on a certain visual shape and idea…. It was difficult to find an image which truly conveyed the word. Initially, I was swayed towards an increasingly complex images and ideas. Similar to my initial attempt at distilling the word, I began to rectify these complex ideas by conveying these ideas in the most simple form possible. I was swayed towards simplicity because I was afraid that complexity would muddle the meaning or change it. 


Once I finally settled on one image, I began to think of how i could compose my photos. I initially took my camera and began to took up at the tree trunks for bold; however, it felt as though none of the trees seemed bold enough. I wanted something which jutted out of the earth and into the sky and world in a big way. The realization of what to take a picture of came to me rather suddenly. I passed the same massive electric pole everyday on my way home, and it always seemed bold. So I began to take pictures from different angles and different heights. For shy, the process of picking a photo and a subject was increasingly complex. I came into the process having a preconception of what I wanted to do, I wanted my shy photo to contain a bud. Buds seem inherently shy to me, they have not yet bloomed or entered the world. I began looking for flowers and buds, on campus. And I found several that I felt were truly shy. Near the alumni house there was a wiry bush with the strangest looking buds. The buds were both sparse and dense, but above all they had unusual coloring and smallness. 

The camera, I used was rented from the library and lacked the capability to creating in focus and out of focus images (i miss the days when you could take your film and get it developed for only a few dollars. I have numerous old mechanical film cameras. My favorite is my nikon FE2.) I struggled to create the images I desired with the camera, because of this troublesome auto focus feature, which made everything clear. I eventually, began to employ a focus and turn method. I set the focus of the camera on something of similar distance, and then turned it to my chosen shot to prevent the camera from auto-focusing. I played with focus with the word shy. Focus implies centrality so out of focus implies shyness. I also constructed several out of focus and in focus images in the pine needles outside of my apartment because of what professor Ruby set about visual interest in the background; however, I chose to use the photos taken from the bush outside of the Alumni house. 




Once I went to mount ally my photos, I had a little trouble with the process, including slicing open my finger. I also burned trough one my photo of bold, I think the paper was not as great as it should have been. Also I some how managed to mount my photos off center. Which still bothers me. I felt like the mounting process was exhausting but also worth it. 

through this project, I learned that the slightest variations make the biggest difference. I also learned that having a plan and drafting and redrafting pays off! I feel like the entirety of this project was a test of my determination to create perfection mixed with the continual realization that there is no right way to go about it. It was incredibly frustrating and tedious but I like being frustrated and challenged because it always makes the finished product more fulfilling.