Showcase :4th Year Exhibition
University of Virginia, April 2013
Date :February - April 2013
Skills :Stop motion animation
Poor Little Rich Girl is an exploration of the cultural stereotype that emerged in the 1930s. It centers on three figures – Barbara Hutton, Marilyn Monroe and Edie Sedgwick. These women are cultural icons, yet they carry stereotypes that contradicted their actual reality. My work adopts the myth of these “poor little rich girls” and reflects their distortion.
All videos are handmade stop motion animations consisting of 200 - 400 scans each. Absolutely no digital manipulation was used.
Barbara Hutton was one of the first women to be dubbed “Poor Little Rich Girl”, or “Poor Little Bitch Girl”. Her claim to fame was not only her family inheritance, but the fact that she threw a debutant ball on her 18th birthday during the Great Depression while the masses were starving. In reality, she was so incredibly sheltered that she had no idea that the public was starving. Her life was filled with tragedies – at the age of five, she discovered her mom body after she committed suicide; she married seven times, mostly to greedy men who were verbally abusive and took her money; she was constantly told that people were only going to love her for her money. These events contributed to her occasional fall into depression and drugs. I wanted to follow her life with gold representing her wealth, white representing moments of innocence and naiveté, black representing the tragic moments in her life, which eventually taints the white.
Marilyn Monroe is perhaps the most recognizable celebrity in all of history. Her stereotype – the dumb blonde, the confident sex icon. In reality, she was very intelligent and well spoken, despite not going to college, suffered from anxiety, and used her persona of Marilyn Monroe to shield this weakness and develop the stereotype. Due to her paralyzing anxiety, she could occasionally be difficult to work with, often locking herself in her trailer and forgetting her lines. Like Barbara, she also experienced a traumatic event in her childhood when her schizophrenic mother kidnapped her from her foster parents by stuffing her in a duffle bag when she was eight. These scans are literally distortions of her character.
Edie Sedgwick was part of Warhol’s entourage who congregated at his Silver Factory; they were known as the Warhol Superstars. She began an intense, non-romantic relationship with Warhol in which she became muse. Edie eventually fell into drug abuse – a fate that is often blamed on Warhol. However, before meeting Warhol, she suffered from severe anorexia that led to hospitalization and drugs – from a young age, she had the reputation to be unstable and reckless. This work represents not only the shattering of her life, but the shattering of her innocent, cheerful public persona, revealing a darker side.
These works are made using the technique of stop motion scanography. I chose this technique because I love art that examines the physicality of materials. Stop motion is a meditative procedure for me. I began creating them in high school and my propensity for this style influenced my work in cinematography as well.
One challenge that I encountered was the fact that I was limited in control over what I was making – I didn’t know how the scans would turn out, how the glass would crack and how the paint would drip and congeal. I also could not stop the process because of the nature of stop motion animation – I needed to make most of these in one go, which took about 6 – 10 hours of straight scanning. I ended up with a large collection of test runs that resulted in about 2000 scans total for each video. Looking back? I absolutely loved the entire process.