The Balancing Act

Charlotte Bates

I believe that who we are and who we turn out to be is a result of the people we surround ourselves with. Whether it’s the life advice we usually don’t ask for from our parents or the results we got from a doctor’s appointment, these moments hold meaning.  Some of these things are said repeatedly to us, while others are only said once and stick with us through our whole lives.

Good and bad, this project is a reflection of my life; big moments and small moments that have stuck with me and created the person that I am today. Through it all, I find a deep importance in reflecting on these moments and questioning their role in my life. When we take a step back to think about the people who make up these moments and memories, things seem clearer.

For this project, I used a big enough mirror as the background so that the viewer is able to stand back and see their whole person reflected in my piece. The two plexiglass sheets hanging in front of the mirror are covered with words that reflect in the mirror so that the viewer is able to read the work on all three surfaces. The words can be difficult to read at times, but if you put in the work, the story comes together.

Since our spring semester was moved online, I was pushed to think about how I could make this project more interactive without people being able to actually interact with my installation piece. So, I decided to reach out to friends and family members and ask them to share my message. In my request, I asked for people to send me things they had been told throughout their lives by parents, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, exes, grandparents, or even strangers that had stuck with them through the years. I ended up receiving responses from people I knew very well, some I knew a little bit, and even some people I have never met. Using Adobe Illustrator, I created a space where each response could have its own space. In order to view them, the viewer must choose to investigate further; echoing the idea of my installation piece.

So, I implore you to investigate and I hope that you are able to relate to some of the responses and share in some of the experiences.  A whole range of emotions and memories reside in each box.

-Charlotte Bates

right: Charlotte Bates, The Balancing Act, Milwaukee Marker on Plexiglass & wall mirror, 36″ x 60″ x 1′, 2020.
below: Charlotte Bates, The Balancing Act 2, digital interactive slider, 2020.