Kenyon Class of ’15, Studio Art major, English minor
For a long time I didn’t believe that wealth could buy happiness. Then for a long time I did. I no longer claim to know the relationship between the two, but after having attended Kenyon for four years, I have learned that both “wealth” and “home” are two very relative, heavily interwoven and constantly evolving terms. My own home as of now exists in the city of Boston. It is snow turned to slush on urban streets and the smell of fire in the fall. It is the flowers that my mother brought home from the shop that day and the feel of the floorboards creaking beneath my bare feet as I climb the stairs to my childhood room. The drastically different ways in which we as individuals may come to define these two terms for ourselves, and in which we perceive our surroundings in general, is dependent upon personal background and experience, of which no two are the same.
The simple design of the houses is based on a childhood drawing of mine from kindergarten. While I received a prize in exchange for “correctly” depicting a home, my friend Anthony was reprimanded. He had drawn a car, not because he’d been confused by the prompt, but because it was the structure out of which he and his family happened to live. It was an uncomfortable misunderstanding and a vivid memory of mine. It both bothers and intrigues me that at such a young age I seemed so sure of what a home was “supposed to” look like. Not every home is a house, and not every existing house is shaped in this way. My installation is an attempt to expose and deconstruct the arguably unhealthy ways that we as a society tend to simplify and/or dichotomize certain social constructs related to identity, which, in addition to wealth and the notion of home, may also include gender, sexuality, political views, etc.
Like many others, I am inspired by the quiet minimalism of Felix Gonzalez Torres’ installations. I admire his ability to say so much using so little as well as his decision to use art as a way of sharing his own learned truths and experiences. Installation is a medium that I have only very recently come to love, but there is something very satisfying to me about working with my hands in this way. I don’t quite know what my relationship with art is yet, nor do I know what to tell people when they ask what “kind” of an artist I am, but I am comfortable in this transitional stage. I enjoy working in a variety of mediums, including printmaking and photography as well as installation, and do not yet have a favorite per say. However, like Torres, I do know that my best pieces are those whose subject matter is deeply personal.
–Lily Burger, ‘15