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Courtney Hammer’s Senior Thesis Exhibit

Breaking Through Containment: with line and movement

How do I perceive physical strength and emotions through bulls and horses as representation?

The subjects I am exploring in this work are bulls and horses because they embody the essence of natural and spontaneous movement and emotions. They combine physical strength and vulnerability. Both are athletes in their field of physicality with the sport of rodeo. I chose to focus on bulls and horses to represent physical strength and emotion through expressive line, like gesture drawings. Gesture drawings are usually quick, expressive, and most importantly, spontaneous. When bulls and horses perform during “rough stock” events in rodeo, it is a constant moving gestural drawing unfolding in front of an audience.

Working continuously with this concept, I discovered that the subjects represent something beyond just the sport of rodeo, but can also be the representation of human emotion and spontaneous action throughout everyday living. Movements and emotions are not always planned, but based on environment, circumstances, and influence of various sources. Emotions such as rage and happiness are expressed differently and it is represented in the work through bold dramatic line and loose free flowing line. These works represent a story beyond the surface, but rather behind the layers. There are layers of color, texture, and lines that represent the layers of past and present emotional experience every living being has.

Each work might have more or less varying provoking feelings of fury, rage, delicacy, vulnerability, or a sense of overcoming containment. Bulls and horses are wild and powerful, but are contained until they are forced to perform in their rough stock event. Each animal is unique and has its own personality with movements and actions, like humans. Humans all have to overcome negative and positive experiences in life and various emotions follow with that. We all have a story beyond our exterior armor.

I want the viewer to physically feel the raw, expressive, and unique movements. Each is a paused movement and feeling in time. Lines are continuous and are not contained. We can naturally perceive certain colors such as red as anger or blood. In this work, red doesn’t represent negativity or anger, but the representation of power and confidence to conquer barriers. The colors are not the main factor in defining the work, but rather to provoke the relationship with expressive line to tell a story. Color is the framework in grabbing the attention to the uniqueness of every body movement and structure that defines the physical, mental, and emotion action.

Visual artists Pablo Picasso, Amol Pawar, Lydia Kiernan, and Benedicte Gele inspire me in this body of work and influenced how I viewed and responded to the movements and body structure of bulls and horses. These artists have also used bulls and horses as subjects in their work.