Black and White Condention 2

Black and White Condention 2, Tanner Rhines

For week two in our series profiling the 2015 Gold Medal Portfolio recipients, we’re taking a look at Monique Taylor and Tanner Rhines. Monique and Tanner use their art and writing to understand the way people, our cities, and our societies fit together and come apart. Their works compact expansive feelings, human histories, and settings into packages that make you delve deeper into fascinating spaces and thoughts you normally would have overlooked.

Monique Taylor is from Saginaw, Michigan, and attends Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy.

“When I picked my pieces for competition this year, I decided that I wasn’t going to limit myself to the pieces that fit together cleanly, because I don’t think that a person should mass-produce works and mold them so that they have to fit together.

“The main goal for most of my work is to make my readers feel a sense of ease. Some of my pieces are happy, a lot of others feel kind of sad. But in the end of each piece, I want my readers to be able to examine the things I’ve said and put forward to them, and not run away in horror or disgust. While it’s nice to get intense reactions from people because of a provocative piece, I don’t want to ever depend on shock value to get my point across. Whenever a writer sets out to initiate a specific emotion in their audience, no matter how hard they work, they can only ever get halfway because the audience has to be willing to meet them there.”

 

from “White Noise”

Our lives are over-arching melodies
sung in nearly empty bars
to the last lovers alive.
There’s an echo,
sound making ricochets off of
empty minds and half-fulfilled promises
to return with thoughts of late night,
shame-filled rendezvous under flickering streetlights.
You’re running from demons,
I’ve hidden from starless nights,
so let’s hole up in this bar on the edge of the world,
let the news roar in the background while we sit,
hands locked as you draw lies on the table
in condensation and crumbs.

 

from Interlocking

We were old puzzle pieces, paint chipped and peeling, lost in that special world between the couch cushions. It wasn’t that we fit each other perfectly, or some other cliché, but coincidence and complete frustration had quite literally thrown us together. There was no way we were meant to be; no matter what we tried, our edges never fit quite right, and under our layers of dust and crumbs, our paint jobs weren’t similar in the slightest. Nevertheless, we muddled along, you and I, slowly migrating farther and farther within the love seat.

We found a colony of coins hiding just beneath the arm, victims of carelessness and loose pockets. They were an entertaining bunch, providing new conversations we so desperately needed to revive our stale and tired greetings. But days passed, or maybe it was weeks, and the bed of springs and gears didn’t feel quite like home. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t control my restless nature, and over time I wore you down until you consented to move on. I hadn’t meant to be selfish, but I couldn’t bear to waste more time in a place I couldn’t call home; I hadn’t noticed how comfortable you’d become with your new friends until we resumed our journey and every one of my attempts at conversation were met with stony silence.

This was the first crevasse that developed between us. Afterward, things that should be minor disagreements became Civil Wars as we wandered aimlessly. Worst of all was your fixation on edges. The coins’ easy-going natures and similar shape meant that they could stack and interlock with very little problems. Our shapes weren’t geometric, but you couldn’t accept the truth and move on, often injuring yourself to fit within the definition of perfection. You never cared how much it pained me to watch you peel yourself apart, attaining your less than perfect goal of self-destruction.

 

Personalities

Personalities, Tanner Rhines

Tanner Rhines is from Fairbanks, Alaska, and attends West Valley High School.

“My style has grown into what I now refer to as a Condention, self-defined as a complex labyrinth, maze or puzzle; in this case, a labyrinth of the mind.

“Symbolically and literally, my form has become an honest interpretation of the person I am in life; cultivating my thoughts, moods, and experiences of time. Sometimes I don’t understand my lines, but those are the ones I like to make the most. I create these pieces to visually express my thoughts and ideas into a moment . . . In my eyes, art serves as an eclectic outlet for the public, to spark imagination and wonder, but to also ponder our places in the world and the purposes that we follow. I hope someone viewing my art can see a bit of themselves in the visual life I’ve created, through character representation or by reflecting that we are all part of a world that we’ve created for each other. It’s important that I focus on the collective, the overall quality and mood of the whole piece, and to reflect on what is internal, and what is external. Sometimes it’s almost like I’m stuck inside a light bulb, and visual representation is the only way I can light up my life.”

The Growth

The Growth, Tanner Rhines

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