BFA Thesis Exhibit

Michaela McLaughlin


Artist Statement

 My work explores the relationship between an individual and comfort items such as blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals. Personalities are created for the vessels gathered as children and are used to cope with the uncertainties that life can bring. Often these personal possessions are used as an outlet, and we are able to confide in them during our times of need. The vulnerability shown as children with these items is rarely replicated and I strive to bring out these emotions and connections within the work created. In my work, I begin to question the meaning of comfort and how we achieve this feeling, “the easing or alleviation of a person's feelings of grief or distress”. As I continue to experiment with these ideas, I begin to redefine the meaning of comfort through the experimentation and exploration of these concepts. 

Lying in a bed wrapped in the covers, tucked in and away from the pressures and strain that growing up takes.  
Where do we go to take it away? 
Where is our resting place for the living? 
The place where all our worries go away. 
I sink, I sink in the covers beneath the sheets, between the springs.   
Wrapped in a layer of safety.  
My friends are here, the ones I tell my secrets to.  
The ones who understand my pain, to whom I sing, I laugh, I cry too. 
They hold my hand through the pain they catch my tears. 
They take it away, take it all away, 
I can close my eyes and drift, drift away. 
It becomes my escape, showing me what I have forgotten  
My friends bring me there, 
To a dream of a person, of a place, a moment, or feeling. 
As I awaken, I am pulled out slowly. 
I remove the blanket, pull away the sheets and hide my friends under the pillow. 
I roll myself from the center of the bed to the edge.  
Not ready to jump from the cliff before me. 
I stand, awake yet tired, upright but tangled in the mess of emotions I begin to bottle. 
I can’t wait for the day to end, 

So I can crawl back under the covers with my friends.  

I’m taking an object from a place where we are most exposed. With influence from various artists such as Mike Kelly, Michael Kempson, and Sheila Hicks, and their wide use of textiles and other mediums; I begin to experiment with a variety of materials and create a bridge between sculpture and painting, breaking the traditional boundaries of a canvas. Directly painting on stretched or draped sheets and pillowcases allow the work to manifest the emotions one feels when wrapped in them. The sheet can be stretched as if it is pulled tightly over a mattress creating tension or layered as though a bed has been freshly made. 

Paralyzed in a swarm of emotions. 
Surrounded yet completely alone. 
I'm awake but definitely dreaming because this doesn’t make sense. 
Wrapped, no tucked in so tight I forget, I forget it all. 
I slip in and out of the folds of blankets that lie on my bed. 
This is where I feel safe.

The paintings are created by using both acrylic and oil paint along with other mixed materials. One of these being spray foam; the use of this material creates more of an interaction between the work and the viewer. Many of the paintings also incorporate charcoal as an underdrawing. This technique gives the painting a more saturated and richer application of color.  The prints are made by layering a variety of Chinese papers, and a combination of litho and silkscreen print. Using a combination of different processes and materials allows a connection to form between myself and the work. Much like the connection that can be made with a comfort item.