Cake - Little by Little

Ryan Cake

Little by Little

As a double major in Political Science and Studio Art, my work typically uses visual narrative and symbols to analyze and describe social issues. While this piece still communicates my thoughts on culture and human behavior, the focus here is my most intimate and personal thus far. I created "Little by little, I am losing the clarity of your portrait" because, at the time, I was going through a very tough breakup. It was the first time I had ever experienced heartbreak and I wanted to communicate that through my art. I am affected by societal expectations of masculinity, so I oftentimes find myself holding back my emotions. My artwork is one of the only ways I feel comfortable sharing those intimate details and weaknesses. I wanted to set a scene full of coldness, with objects functioning as stand ins for the agony that is too uncomfortable to describe verbally. From the phone that awaits the next text to the ripped bag used to exchange items, the viewer takes in a narrative full of both longing and hurt. From afar the piece may appear to be a conventional still life, but the personal significance tied to each object opposes the typical detachment in traditional set ups. The objects scattered throughout the periphery show hope, regret, and pain. The object at the center encapsulates the narrative- a toppled over plant. It represents someone who is tired of being tired. What was once love letters and late-night phone calls full of joy, was now pushed to its side and left for dead. In an instant, the items that were representative of a trusting relationship had turned into reminders of what used to be. My use of diagonal lines, as well as the lack of horizontal lines, was to communicate a sense of instability. I also wanted to use the linework to guide the viewer to the central object. The compositional viewpoint is meant to replicate that of an outsider looking in on the relationship. This level of separation makes it easier to identify the issues that are harder to see when emotionally involved- implied by the tear stain from an absent person. Things that you thought were normal were, in reality, very toxic. Even though the person in the story may feel differently, the reality is clear. What I felt in that moment was intense, but temporary, similar to the tear that will inevitably dry up. Creating this work helped me to process and find much needed closure as I looked back at a dismantled and scattered relationship.