Artist and Curator, Saylem Delgado
On view November 27, 2023 through January 17, 2024
Join us for a reception January 10, 5-7 PM
Vestiges – A journey delineating the relationships we make with those in our lives. Whether a friendship or a romantic relationship, building these connections almost seems to come in stages. Vestiges trace these stages through a series of five movements.
In the beginning, the introduction stage is awkward; words don’t always seem to form the way you want them to. At the same time, this stage feels as if time was going at hyper-speed. You want to learn as much as you can about this person you’ve met, yet feelings of hesitation let the days go by. However, while you might wonder where are your words during this introductory stage, soon enough, mingling comes easier.
This second stage feels a bit more comfortable. Conversations seem to stick, and you don’t feel such a rush to learn everything. Things seem nice… Lost words begin to form sentences. A sense of structure forms and alleviates some stress. However, you may still worry if this person enjoys your company. Perhaps the other person feels the same and that’s ok. There’s still so much to see and do.
The third stage of familiarization sees the relationship in a cozy light. That awkwardness at the beginning had finally dissolved. Hopefully. You feel at ease trying new things and exploring new ways of thinking through this relationship. Like leading into a fall, maybe even taking risks seems like something affordable as you share more of yourself. The world you see in these moments looks more colorful. While familiarization sees its positive consequences, this stage can take an unforeseen turn.
Familiar aspects you’ve come to understand about this person may prove difficult in moments they act differently. The same can be said from the opposite perspective too. A sort of tension sets between you two as what once was familiar starts to dissolve. “Have I changed?” “Have they?” These sorts of questions eat both of you up as you either bicker or distance yourselves. You both wonder how could this happen, “I thought I understood them.” The color you once saw diminishes; maybe it would be best to just let go.
At the epicenter of a falling relationship, a final outcome has to be made. Do you restore what once was and offer your hand to build a stronger relationship? Or do you let the deluge take place and let it drag you away? This stage leaves you trapped in a flood of flames pondering wishes of what this relationship could have been. Maybe just going to bed and running away seems easier. This option of abandoning a forest fire you helped create leaves haunting ghosts. You dream of these stages you went through with them. You see their vestige through the words you shared—the images engrained in your head. As you awake, their final trace slips through the curtain. A haunting light you can never forget bathes the wall as you wake up the next day and the following to come.
As Vestiges outlines a relationship between two people through its narrative, another relationship is drawn. Playing with both poetry and photography, Vestiges frames these stages of a relationship through its balance between the two modes. In some movements, photography or poetry engulfs the other, almost erasing its entire presence. In other movements, they are in harmony—sharing the same space comfortably. The moments of peace and distress between the two modes mirror the relationship unfolding at the forefront.
My beginning goal with Vestiges was to bring together my two passions from my undergraduate work. Working in both the English department and Studio Art department, this project became a bridge
between the two to explore greater issues we have with those around us. Before I had started working on Vestiges, a classmate told me that through my poetry and photography, I discuss the complex elements of relationships we have in our day to day lives. To take this discussion a step further, my photography professor, Roddy MacInnes, recommended me to fuse photography and poetry together. I achieved this by moving my art to PowerPoint as an artistic medium.
After completing my undergraduate work and coming back to start my graduate work, another addition came to my PowerPoint art. While meshing photography and poetry together, I realized that I now was looking at my art through an art historical lens. Concentrating on Museum Studies, I soon became interested in who else practiced PowerPoint art. Encouraged again by Roddy MacInnes, he recommended I research David Byrne who he knew worked with PowerPoint. From there, I took Dr. Magnatta’s Methods & Theory class where I developed my research on the field. The joy I found by adding my passion for art history into the mix of PowerPoint art was substantial. This resulted in choosing PowerPoint art as my topic for my MRP. Here, I can add my work into the mix and research it through an art historical lens. It now seems like all my passions are coming together at this moment.
By creating art in PowerPoint, I established a second goal through Vestiges. The presence of a community in this work stretched its hands out farther than I could imagine. In my pursuit to create a project that observes the stages of a relationship, the act of creating it saw many hands other than mine. As each little element came together through each movement, I shared stories with my classmates, my professors, and my friends. In taking pictures and writing poetry, little parts of these people found themselves within the movements of Vestiges. Their influence helped create a project where they can pick out a certain moment and remember the stories and experiences shared between us.
As Vestiges came to its completion, this aspect of community saw another element in its performance. By using PowerPoint, Vestiges presented as a work of performance art as I act out the two voices transitioning through the slides. With PowerPoint’s portability and accessibility, I have been able to present Vestiges wherever I go. From classrooms, hotel rooms, bedrooms, and outside, I can perform this piece in front of any amount of people. As the performance comes to an end, the floor opens up to the audience to discuss their questions, comments, and their own experiences. Every presentation is a different show. With that said, one presentation in particular became a means for me to form better relationships with my classmates as I entered the Museum Studies program. Struggling to overcome my social anxiety and trust issues, a chance opportunity presented itself after my classmates asked me to present Vestiges. After presenting it to them after class, I felt I could better speak to them and vice-versa. Vestiges became a means to share a part of me and who I am. It became a space for my classmates to share parts of themselves too. New audiences bring different questions and stories to share, and I found that to especially be true after that last performance.
With Vestiges grounded in storytelling, this exhibition will create an environment for people to reflect on the relationships they have with those around them—to share stories and form new vestiges. We are constantly building and losing relationships as life goes on. Whatever stage we are in life, my goal is to reflect the stages of a relationship to its very core. As the title slide shows a picture of myself, I know with every subsequent presentation, I will look different. With each further presentation, I will present it differently. As with every person we meet and form a relationship with, it will be different. My ultimate goal is to capture the different traces that people leave behind in our lives.