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Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000 or (800) 590-3428

APRIL RODMYRE

PUSH TO EXIT

Senior Project DECEMBER 2015

“I don’t think about art when I’m working.

I try to think about life.”
                                               – Jean-Michel Basquiat


Each small decision contributes to the slow formation of a larger picture. Layer upon layer, cycles repeat until understanding and experience gradually appear. Observe science, astronomy, physics, history, culture, economics, faith, music, art, even human behavior, and a mysteriously numeric “natural rhythm” emerges. Mathematic order found in nature carries inherent significance. Humans are consumed by patterns and routine, gravitating to the familiar, often mindlessly addicted to a myriad of controls and a series of habits dictated by the subconscious. In spite of technology designed to “keep us more connected,” there is a contemporary phenomenon of increased separation, whether social, physical, spiritual or emotional. This includes a deepening disconnection with even the most intimate items we consume daily. Push to Exit is a series of mixed media abstractions birthed out of found recycled burlap from around the world that reflects on order and rhythm, separation and disconnection, and the diversity of human experience.

Human experiences may be better understood by studying the simplest of everyday items. The genesis for this work was an encounter with this unassuming material, the burlap bags used to ship unroasted coffee beans from across the globe to a Fort Myers, Florida roasting plant. Each 150-pound gunny sack is unique in thread thickness, natural shades, and shape. I was immediately seduced by the texture of the coarse jute fibers and by the long journey these materials had taken, only to be discarded once their purpose was complete. As a graphic artist I understand the arduous process of producing successful packaging, work that serves such a short lifespan of usefulness. Painting offers a much longer purpose, encourages a slower pace and affords me a more physical engagement with my work. Making this project required me to exit from my normal technology-centered routines and focus on the material directly in front of me.

During my design career I’ve spent several thousand hours analyzing digital detail and spatial relationships at the pixel level; for this project, I chose to escape from that familiar world and work large scale. Each burlap piece was painted outdoors, in the fresh air, next to grass and trees. Small pieces of leaves, seeds and flowers that have blown onto the paint are visible, as well as a few unroasted coffee beans. I responded to the unique burlap threads primarily using acrylic paint, but also charcoal, pen, tapes, and toner transfers. Painting the layers flat on the ground is part calculated and part intuitive, a tactile discovery process. Exiting the normal bustle of commercialized consumption, technology and all its distractions, I find fulfillment in repurposing this discarded packaging to record my own contemplative moments. I invite viewers to experience the exhibition separated from their own devices, as well as to interactively contribute to the artwork by pushing in their own exit points.