Miriam Houg

Student Artist-in-Residence 2006-07
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Artist Statement

Untitled Study #4
                    Untitled Study #4
                 Wood, Gold Leaf, Felt


I began thinking about this project in terms of basic materials, basic living needs, and basic structures. My initial investigations led me to nanotechnology, the ultimate technology that is proving to help improve all of those basic elements. Nanotechnology can be explained as the ability to control or manipulate at the atomic scale. The manipulation of material takes on new traits as it is built up this way. Fabric, in itself, is taking on new traits. For instance corn has become a fabric, and fabrics now have UV protection, fire resistance, and the ability to color. Fabric is a basic necessity that humans have ingrained into their lives. Humans identify themselves with fabrics from a utilitarian, cultural and religious standpoint.

We often associate ourselves with certain genres of culture and embody their lifestyles as well as their images. Family is one of the tribes we function within. I have utilized my family for my skill base on this project; they have given me the understandings of many basic living needs such as felt fabric construction, and carpentry. Human interactions with family also define our lives and our interactions with the world. These structures spur this interaction between humans and the world they live in. In science the scientist must interact with the microscope to peer into the unknown.

During the construction of this project I have used familial knowledge to develop my skill base, and learned knowledge from education and academia. I used the skills that had been ingrained in me through family interactions to build the materials of my work, and used education as a theoretical basis for inspiration of the forms.

My choice of materials spawned from the aesthetic experience of discovery in science. The composition of the pieces grew from the painter's standpoint using the box of canvas to contain the ideas and house invention. Particle theory states that light is essentially a stream of tiny particles that no one is able to see. Those particles transfer energy to one another and thus all light that is shown onto an object transfers energy to the object. Gold is used as a light absorber in many nano applications. Gold leaf is often pressed to become one millionth of a meter, which is 100 nanometers thick or 700 atoms. The amount of atoms within an object is astonishing. When it comes down to the body of an atom it is an orbital being that revolves around itself. Felt is constructed through a circular motion. The circle houses potential energy with the notion of the revolution.

With the widespread introduction of nanotechnology, craft has taken on new traits within the different applications. I want this project to be seen as a juxtaposition of the awe and wonderment of discovering new material, and the nostalgia of the old material in application. The forms stem from the construction of man made materials and the materials stem from the man made forms. Through my work I attempt to bring the divergent into a coalescence.