WEEK 4 – ARTIST CONVERSATION – TIDAWHITNEY LEK & DANIEL RIVERA

There are so many different and unique types of art forms out there but this has been the first I’ve ever seen anything like this. This week I had the amazing opportunity to meet Tidawhitney Lek, and young artist attending California State University or Long Beach. Tidawhitney is 22 years old and soon to be graduation from CSULB this spring. Tidawhitney asked with her collaboration partner, Daniel River, to create a project together. The project was displayed in the Marilyn Werby Gallery. When Lek found out that she was offered the gallery to show her project, she knew she wanted to use up all of the space.  She asked Daniel Rivera to create a piece with her because she has only done paintings and she wanted to learn to do the type of artwork he did. Daniel Rivera creates large-scale pieces to get the audience to become engaged and active. At first they planned to do a sculpture piece together. They went to a dumpster to look for junk and scraps to try to create something out of that since they didn’t really have a budget to work off of. They also didn’t want to spend money on materials when they still weren’t sure what kind of piece they wanted. They wanted to find an alternative way to create something that would be inexpensive yet still creative enough to get the audience to feel connected. They somehow thought of napkins: cheap, creative, and unique. Together they created an installation project called “Disposable Thoughts”.

Disposable Thoughts is a project made up of their thoughts written on a thousand napkins. They came up with the idea of napkins because napkins are used in different types of ways. They asked themselves, “What is it that they are throwing away on the napkins?” We use it to wipe ourselves, to jot down some notes, trying to remember something, or even draw doodles when we’re bored. For Lek, since she is an artist, she would always draw pictures on napkins. She then had the discussion with Rivera about what they think of when they hear the word thoughts. They both agreed that they hated them because they constantly come and go. They believed thoughts are time-consuming and bother them. Thoughts keep them distracted and out of focus. They wanted to create a massive-scale project. They started with 300 napkins and realized that wasn’t enough. They decided to create up to 1000 napkins. Even then, they wished they had created more napkins. They would sit there for hours and just constantly write down or draw all of their thoughts and add the napkins into a pile that was ready to be sewn together.

After finishing the whole project, the next step was to install the project into the gallery to display. Although almost 100 hours were put into the project, Lek mentioned that the hardest part was installing the piece. She never considered the amount of time to set up the presentation since this was her first installation piece. Since Lek was so used to painting, she didn’t consider the space she had to work with. With paintings she only had to deal with the walls of the room. She had to figure out a way for the audience to walk around the installation piece and feel intrigued at every angle. That’s where Rivera’s expertise came in because he was experienced with installation pieces and space. He came up with the idea of adding in a tunnel for the audience to enter through that was inviting. At the same time, they both left it up to chance. Daniel only though of the basic idea of adding in a tunnel, but they couldn’t control every aspect of the napkins. They didn’t anticipate how the edges of the napkins would react since they were so thin and the fish line wasn’t that strong. They left everything up to chance and luck.

After finishing the project, she was able to get feedback from her professors. Her professors mentioned how her project related to today’s society. With the day and age, social media makes everything permanent. When you post your thoughts through social media, it is permanently there for anyone to see. It’s considered permanent until you delete it. Even after you delete it, someone has already seen it. Lek used this project as an outlet to dispose of her thoughts that were trapped in her head. She used this project like a diary to write down what she was thinking.

This project was a real eye-opener for me. It made me realize how much we have evolved over time. We rarely write down out thoughts anymore, but instead type it out for everyone to see. With this project, Lek also gave a chance to her audience to write down their thoughts on napkins. She created a little book and left it under her art description for her audience to share their thoughts with her. This project is unique and had a really powerful message to me. The title of this piece is already intriguing. Disposable Thoughts is a way to write down what were are thinking to clear out minds and either keep or throw them away. Unlike social media, it’s hard to share your thoughts without them being private to only you. Social media gives a way for people to judge you upon your thoughts. With napkins or any type of paper, you are able to jot down your thoughts and do as you please with them, like keep them private. I really enjoyed all the artwork displayed at the art galleries, but I had a really strong connection with this art piece.

Collage of some angles of the art piece!
Collage of some angles of the art piece!

Tidawhitney Lek’s Contact Information:

Instagram: @tidawhitney

Daniel Rivera’s Contact Information:

Instagram: @crumbs_of_a_line

Blog: vivewithdare.blogspot.com

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