Amanda Russel BFA Thesis Spring 2012
The force which galvanized this project was my experience staying in the hospital for twenty-eight days after becoming suddenly ill and suffering severe spinal cord inflammation that resulted in paralysis from my waist down. With the intention to create a body of work that can be shared and relatable to a broad audience, I elected to use the format of a book and created a series of eighteen paintings that make nine sections; each section contains two paintings. With an added title page, all of this amounts to twenty eight pages, or the equivalent of one page per day in my hospital stay. I wanted my project to be understood by a broad audience and not just others suffering from my specific condition, consequently I ultimately decided to use my experience to convey confusion, suspension, and both a physical and emotional feeling of displacement, from both body and identity.
I have likened these, represented by my experience, to the journey explained in Dante Alighieiri’s Purgatorio, the poem which details the author’s imaginary journey through the biblical realm of Purgatory: For Dante, Purgatory is a physical metaphor for a transitional time of learning, suffering, and personal growth after death, and before entering Heaven.
Borrowing organizational elements and themes from Dante’s structure of Purgatorio as a place, I have used them as a loose framework to structure my book, to present it as a personal journey and a transition. In this sense, my work echoes Purgatorio in mood and structure, but unlike Dante’s poem, it does not have a defined destination.