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Victoria League
Professor Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz and Dr. Cecilia Milans
1 December 2015
Artist Statement: Both Sides
My identity projects final form will be a display of 72 laser-cut wooden
coins painted in metallic silver. The time put into this project can be split up
into different phases of production. I estimate a combined two hours of
brainstorming ideas for the designs of each coin, and about four to seven
hours creating the designs in Photoshop. Laser-cutting the coins took about
two hours, and painting took approximately fifteen to twenty hours (about an
hour to paint two coats onto five coins, and then extra time putting another
two or three coats on each coin). The display of the coins itself takes about
three to five minutes to set up, and acquiring display stands was a negligible
amount of time. Compared to the production time, the performance itself is
small in scope. I want my audience to view the display, examine the coins,
and chat with each other. I want them to examine themselves as they
examine the coins. I want them to see a coin and think that it fits them, or
think of another idea that would fit them. I want them to realize that people
can be both sides of the coin at the same time; we do not have to fit in a
binary. As speculative fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor says, people are
complex, full of contradictions, truths and lies.

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The origins of my project lie in my own identity and some of the
exercises we did in class. People often tell me that parts of my personality
and/or appearance do not match. A friend once told me that opening my
mouth to speak completely ruined my outward appearance. I did not give
much thought to that moment until we worked on our Think Tank exercise for
this project. I thought about parts of my identity that would be interesting to
investigate, and kept coming back to all of the contradictions within myself.
As I thought of things within myself that do not match, I remembered our
Two Things exercise, and how my classmates noted that my two objects
were the least related out of everyones objects. I decided I had a knack for
being and creating things that should not go together, and the topic of
contradictions in identity was born. Using the common phrase two sides of
the same coin, I eventually decided to create uniquely designed coins with
contrasting images on each side.
The current version of this project started with the intention to carve
the coins out of clay, paint them in metallic silver and bronze, and hang
them with clear wire in the shape of a hat. Almost none of those original
ideas made it to the final stages of production. However, I feel it is necessary
to give an overview of my inspiration for the conception of this project.
Primarily in my mind was a 3-D hanging Christmas tree that my
grandparents made a few years ago. It consisted of golden ornaments
hanging from a ceiling fan with clear wire. My hat idea was not 3-D, but I
based my hanging idea off the Christmas tree (and the idea of door beads).

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For lack of a better image, here is a photo of some family members with the
hanging tree:

Through some research on other hanging artwork, I found Jaehyo Lees

floating stone sculptures. His website can be found in my Works Cited; here
are some images of his floating stones:

I also found Mikala Dwyers Swamp Geometry and, through Professor

Raimundi-Ortiz, Milton Rosa-Ortizs The Dodekatheon, both of which

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showed variations on the idea of hanging things from the ceiling in an
arrangement (and are both quite beautiful):

With my piece I intended to continue this tradition of hanging objects from

the ceiling, primarily because I didnt want my coins to be static. These three
works of art would help me figure out how to hang the coins in a clear shape.
I wanted the coins to twist and turn and give the audience the ability to twist
them as they examined the coins. The hat shape would play off the idea that
people wear different hats, create different personas for each situation and
From this point of inspiration, my first failures emerged. After buying
the clay, carving instruments, clear wire, and paint, I realized I am not
talented when it comes to carving small images into clay and making them
look even somewhat professional. At this point, I had already designed the
hat configuration and had determined I would need 72 coins. Carving 72
coins, each with a unique design on each side, simply was not going to work.
At the suggestion of a co-worker, I explored UCFs Innovation Lab and

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decided to use their laser cutter to make my coins out of wood. Once the
coins had been successfully created and I was able to see how awesome
most of the designs looked, I realized that the hanging idea was not going to
work for multiple reasons, including issues with drilling a hole through a
finished coin and the focus on the individual designs of each coin, which
would be lost if they were arranged into a bigger design.
Once I had decided to go a different route with the display of the coins,
I began researching other ways to display small sculptures and money art. I
found Stephanie Kantors Money Wash and Mark Wagners Guys, both of
which may have worked for my project.

Money Wash made me consider putting my coins into bowls or another

object holder that the audience could then sort through. Guys made me
think of attaching my coins to people figures, furthering the association with
identity, or attach them to necklaces, which furthers the idea that identity is
something people can put on or take off.

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Ultimately, I settled on the idea of a simple display like Money Wash
and decided to use ring display cases to showcase my coins, similar to a coin
collectors display. One advantage to this display is that the coins will be
placed upright by me, eliminating any confusion about the top of each
design. The audience will be able to remove and replace each coin as they
examine it, and can appreciate the detail in each coin design. I feel that the
coins coupled with the title of the project will effectively communicate the
idea of contradictions within identity, which I would consider a success of this
During my display-brainstorming phrase, Professor Raimundi-Ortiz
directed me to Esperanza Mayobres piece E$peranza, below:

This piece consisted of identical bills displayed in stacks, which I knew would
not work for my own piece with individually designed coins. However, the
image above coupled with some classroom discussions about artists allowing
the audience to take pieces of art home with them inspired me to play

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around with the idea of my own audience taking home a coin that fits them
best. This take-home aspect will also emphasize the exchange related to
currency: identity formation and personas are often created to be used in an
exchange with others, so audience members taking a coin will symbolize the
monetary/currency aspects of identity. For this classroom performance, I will
keep the coins as I do not have enough to give them away, but if I were to be
placed in a gallery, I would produce more coins so that audience members
could choose a coin they feel fits them and take it with them.
This project has changed drastically since we first began the Think
Tank exercise. Before I had even thought of coins, I had decided to create a
double-sided book that contained photographs of me that would portray my
own identity contradictions. I had thought that this project was about
ourselves and our own identity based on our self-examination in the Think
Tank exercise. Once I realized this project was about investigating the idea of
identity, I shifted my focus from contradictions within myself to
contradictions that could/do exist in others. My production methods have
also completely changed from the beginning of this project, as evident in the
progression of inspiration above, and will shift again if I am chosen for the
gallery. I feel that the changes my project experienced helped me deal with
failures and find success. Although I now have a pile of unused clay in my
apartment, I am extremely pleased with the way the wood coins turned out.
They are a little thicker than I intended and rather large for coins, but I think
this allows the design to stand out clearly and makes it accessible to many

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viewers. Some of the designs should be redone, as my test audience
members were confused with some designs, but overall I am pleased with
the clarity of my designs and the ways that they can be interpreted
differently by each viewer. I have learned a lot about art production, my own
skill areas, and identity itself. I hope that my audience can take the same
lessons away from my project and investigate themselves as thoroughly as I
investigated myself and others to create these coins.

Works Cited
Dwyer, Mikala. Swamp Geometry, 2008. Mikala Dwyer, n.d. Web. 29 Nov.
Lee, Jaehyo. Stone. Jaehyo Lee, n.d. Web 29 Nov. 2015.
Mayobre, Esperanza. E$peranza. Esperanza Mayobre, n.d. Web. 29 Nov.
Okorafor, Nnedi (Nnedi). We are complex, full of contradictions, truths and
lies. 29 Nov. 2015, 5:42 a.m. Tweet.
Rosa-Ortiz, Milton. The Dodekatheon. Milton Rosa-Ortiz, n.d. Web. 29 Nov.
University of Colorado Boulder. Fall 2015 Master of Fine Arts Exhibition.
Regents of the University of Colorado, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

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Wagner, Mark. Money etc. Mark Wagner, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

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