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Something Missing

As a puzzle enthusiast, I have long been interested in making an art piece on a puzzle, but it took me quite a while to get around to it. I purchased a puzzle (1ooo pieces), put it together, and then painted it white, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it yet and to I just had the prepped puzzle on the back burner for about three years until I finally ended up using it for a project in one of my college art classes.


Even after painting over the puzzle, the preparation process was quite involved. To make sure the puzzle would be usable, I actually had to take each piece apart and put it back together to keep them from sticking. I labeled each piece with a number with the hopes that organization would make putting the blank white puzzle back together easier, but they proved rather unhelpful since there were no neat rows (and I managed to lose count several times). I ended up working in sections, detaching and reattaching pieces almost immediately.


The colored patches are done in pastel while the patterned pieces are simply Sharpie on the white background. The entire puzzle is sealed with spray fixative.


The overall pattern of the piece is of an unfolded paper crane, with the black and white areas representing the surfaces that would be seen when folded, whereas the colored sections would have been folded inside and obscured.


After I was finished, I took it apart and put it back together, which was more challenging than I had anticipated - especially for the people who tried to help me. I hope to make more art pieces on puzzles in the future - I actually have another puzzle set aside for that very purpose - and now I have more of an understanding of what would and would not be user-friendly, but we'll see what happens.


The title is mostly just a generic puzzle joke, but I did actually lose a puzzle piece somewhere in the process of prepping the surface and starting the drawing. My best excuse for that is the fact that I frequently carried this piece back-and-forth across campus from the art studio to my dorm room. I was ignoring the issue, hoping that I would be able to find the piece somewhere, when one of my amazing roommates suddenly decided to help - she grabbed an empty cardboard box from the recycling bin, folded it in half, and cut me out a new piece that fit remarkably well. You probably can't see it from these pictures, but I know it was one of the black and white edge pieces near one of the corners. That piece gives this project just a touch more character and the memory it represents holds a special place in my heart.


This entire project was fun not only in itself - but because it was one of the most interactive pieces I've ever done. While I never had the chance to make it truly interactive by placing it - unmade - in an art show for all attendees to contribute to, working on it in class and the living room of my apartment spurred the excitement and engagement of all those around me. (2019)

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