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MidTerm Project

Thinking Small-Scale: Creating a Miniature Environment

ARE 5930C Summer 2018                                                                              



Create a miniature sculptural environment, an installation in a contained space (no larger than 2ft x 2ft). Any medium or combination of mediums may be utilized to engage one or more of the viewer’s senses.

The challenge will be not only to create an ambitious small installation that is strong in concept and aesthetics, and is satisfying to you an artist, but also to document the piece in a way that will allow the instructor and online colleagues to engage with it, even though we will not be able to experience it in person. Think beyond an elementary school diorama – how can you transform a container into an experiential art piece?

Artist Statement

Removing Barriers: Mental Health Awareness

Thinking in small scale to create a miniature environment reminded me of the confined spaces we can sometimes move into when we struggle with our own feelings, like being in a bubble disconnected from the outside world where we long to be. May is Mental Health Awareness month so I wanted to create the experience of living with an anxiety disorder to incorporate negative thoughts, shame and not  being able to reach out to others for support due to the stigma associated with mental illness. The environment captures the mindset of feeling alone but with a hope for a new view on mental health and of moving forward into the outside world by removing barriers.

Documentation Process

I began creating the environment by using labels from pill bottles and shaped them by using a mix of glue and water. I chose the labels because of the oversaturated consumption of pills and the feeling that we need them in order to get through our lives. The black sewing string around the head represents the negative thoughts sometimes referred to as “monkey chatter”. I created a little book on the floor using a quote by Louis Hay that reads “Today is going to be a really really Good Day”. There are crumbled pieces of paper and sketch book pages on the floor representing the wanting to be positive but the lack of confidence in oneself. I used fabric felt for the floor and rug and a pill bottle cap as a base to set the scene on. I added a spiral as a backdrop to visually show the spiraling thoughts and I hung monkeys from the top to represent the negative thoughts. I placed everything into a round plant holder to represent the enclosed bubble a person can feel while still viewing the outside world. In looking at the stats from National Alliance on Mental Illness’ website, 18.1% of Americans live with anxiety disorders. It is something that people are uncomfortable talking about because of the stigma placed on them. My message is to find hope, support, remove the barriers and talk about it. 

Brainstorming for Midterm Project

One of the ideas that I have been thinking about after researching Curtis Talwst Santiago, an artist that creates miniature worlds inside of old ring boxes, as well as Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber who make post-apocalyptic miniature environments and then take photos of them, is to create a diorama. 

Ideas on what to use:

  • Heart trinket

  • Ring box

  • Pill bottle

Ideas on what to communicate:

  • Memory

  • Post-apocalyptic

  • Mental health




These are the ideas I have begun with. The more I think about it, I am considering a focus on mental health. I have an image in mind of a bedroom setting with a figure sitting up in bed. The figure and furniture are made out of pill bottle labels and set in a pill bottle laying on its side and the top has been removed. I imagine I want the viewer to feel the balance of life, the worry and the hope. To engage the senses, I see the floor as textured strips of paper tangled up with words on them that go along with the feeling.

Above are examples I appreciated in a few artists on ideas of size and ideas on senses of despair. I still have some other ideas I am considering.

Curtis Talwst Santiago

Nanganesey Creek With Deer, 2016

Image Source:


Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber

Library, 2007

Image Source:


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