This post is part of a series on the current 2015 MFA Thesis Exhibition. Each post is authored by a graduate of Washington University’s Graduate School of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. An interview with Addoley Dzegede is also featured in Class Acts.
plural noun: foundations
- the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level.
- an underlying basis or principle for something.
I start with the beginning because it is the basis. I start with a foundation because of all that it may mean to you, and all that it means to me. It is something to build on, and something worth building. And then I pluralize it because there is no single source. There are multiple ways to tell the story. Foundations is meant to engage you in a process of discovery, but if you look behind the door, you will find a key to let you in and guide you.
My thesis project, in part, is an attempt to share some of the thoughts I have accumulated around the ideas of “belonging” and “home” in the context of my identity. Greg A. Madison writes in The End of Belonging that “being aware of one’s difference can generate a life trajectory distinct from conventionally prescribed life courses resulting in ever-increasing distance between oneself, the development of peers and the expectations of the available world. Along with this distance is a heightened sensitivity to self-and-other interaction.” The work I present to you is born from this heightened sensitivity. This has manifested in re-occurring dualities. In the thought of two, we find two shores, two sides of the same game, two meanings, two rooms in a house, two nations, two ways of seeing, two sides of a dividing line.
Virginia Woolf wrote, “All history backs our pane of glass. To escape is vain.” In other words, as Louise De Salvo expanded on this statement, “no home is insulated from the world…. The windows of every home open to the outside world, where history unfolds unstoppable, impinging on the lives of those within.” In leaving the home space to make art in the context of graduate school, my interests and ideas found themselves expanding further beyond my personal history and put me face-to-face with a new set of challenges.
In the past two years, I have built four house-like structures. It is through the building of homes that I have been able to examine instances of unbelonging. And it is through building and making that I attempt to create spaces for myself, and others.
Toward the end of my graduate studies, I encountered Madison’s, The End of Belonging, which put my feelings and thoughts around unsettledness into perspective through the lens of the idea of “existential migration.” If I were to accept multiple belongings, or to go even further, accept longing as a state of being, it could be with the intention to create spaces for others to belong or to engage with some part of me.
With these thoughts in mind, I invited two other artists, Aaron Coleman and Justin Reed, both poets who have shared similar experiences during the same two years that we have all pursued our MFAs at Washington University, to engage in conversations that led to the creation of works that are included in Foundations (see drawers Answers or Truth? and Panopticon).
This collaborative effort, in conjunction with inviting viewers to physically, emotionally, intellectually, and playfully engage with the cabinet, is an attempt create instances of belonging and community. As people gather around the cabinet and share their discoveries with each other, I am able to witness what I perceive as the success of this goal.
The other goal of my work –which is to encourage self-reflection – is something that is not measureable. That is why, perhaps, I like to offer things, like a postcard, an experience, or a puzzle — something that extends the experience beyond the space of the gallery. Take a crossword puzzle from the drawer, Intersections, and a postcard from Writing Home. I have made them for you.
My work is cut and folded paper. It is reclaimed material. It is newsprint and block print, tape, sand, tiny window, and faux candle. It is handmade, and it says a lot about me. It is also meant to say a lot about you, but only if you will let it. The nature of double-consciousness is that I am constantly seeing myself through your eyes, and I want you to begin to see yourself through mine.
By Addoley Dzegede (Washington University MFA student, Class of 2015)