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

SPENCER L. GILLESPIE

SPENCER

Senior Project FALL 2017

My art has become a means of self-discovery and reflection. Through a stream of consciousness working methodology, I seek to capture human emotions through visual stimulation. The dominating presence of my work is intended to encompass the audience's field of view and provoke a sense of overwhelming sublime through scale. I capture romantic individualism with large writing and marks varying in color, size, and placement. I wish for others to feel the same sense of wonder and “sublime” while viewing my work as I did creating it. While creating large scale mixed media collages, my work place becomes an all attention consuming therapeutic and meditative place. I focus entirely on the moment within the context of the materials and my previously made choices. By using my entire body to create marks and write words, each layer speaks at a different volume depending on the material used, color choice, the characteristic of the mark, and the current composition. I have always scribbled on scraps of paper or journals as a means of escaping and processing my thoughts. This naturally flowed over into my artwork as I began to study Abstract Expressionism.


Through exploration of gesture, line, shape, and color, Abstract Expressionist artists evoke strong emotional reactions in the viewer. Barnett Newman’s 1948 essay titled “The Sublime is Now” advocates for artists to make work out for themselves and their own feelings, rather than of Christ, man, or ‘life’. During the Abstract Expressionism movement, artists worked with the quality of greatness, whether physical, intellectual, or artistic. Two centuries earlier, the English thinker, Edmund Burke, connected the sublime with experiences of awe, terror, and danger. In his Philosophical Enquiry (1797), Burke saw
nature as the most sublime object, rendering strong sensations to its beholders as a romantic conception of individualism. This is the quality of character which distinguishes a particular person from another. It is the romanticized emphasis on emotion and individualism which proved influential for multiple generations of artists with which I find affinity. My ambition is to use grand scale to create an overwhelming viewing experience for both the artist and the viewer in order to dominate the field of vision and produce a sense of contemplation and transcendence.


The initial design of frames for my Senior Project stems from Giacomo Balla, who attached panels to the sides of his paintings that then met and connected with the wall it hung on. I was inspired by this sudden intrusion on the viewer’s space. My frames are hardboard and 2x4 lumber mixed media constructions of latex caulk, wood glue, sandpaper, and Bondo putty. I created practice tests in notebooks and smaller hardboard to explore composition, color, and media. I incorporate multiple applications of various materials which each convey different intentions. Each panel is meant to stand as an independent work. Each viewer is encouraged to find their own thoughts and insights into how they choose with which layer to engage.