All my life I have used books and images of other fantasy worlds as a form of escape. When I wasn’t playing sports or lifting weights, I was reading about different worlds and attempting to create my own. For me, this escape into a new world was the one way out of my small town where everything was the same every day. Growing up I spent most of my time in rural middle Georgia where the closest neighbors were peach trees and the closest city was over 25 minutes away. Even when I did live closer to the city there was still a disconnect between me and those around me. It always felt like everyone was content to be where they were, living an endless loop, but that was never good enough for me. If there was more to our world just like there was in these fantasy worlds, then I wanted to see it. So, I started writing. I wrote about things I thought would be cool, adventurous lifestyles, and places I would love to see. Eventually, my written stories began to take life through amateur drawings and paintings. Now during my time in college, my stories have inspired a lot of my projects and work. Therefore, I knew my senior exhibition had to also reflect my narrative nature and desire to escape into a new world.
When I first came up with the idea for this project, it was just a random thought I quickly jotted down. However, as time passed and I came closer to presenting my senior exhibition idea, this thought jumped off the page of my notebook and stood out above all the others. So, I marked the page and began my research on how I would start this project. When it came to deciding on the concept and the composition as a whole, I found myself being drawn into the idea of creating a whole new world like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. With this in mind, I decided that to understand the shape of the physical form of my project, I had to know the other landforms around it, so I created a map. Then to understand the details within the terrain, I wanted to know what kind of people or creatures would live here and how their culture and habits would affect the land. So I developed this idea and came up with the name “Kutora” by looking up the word “escape” in multiple languages and then melding them together to form a speech pattern that sounded appealing and slightly rustic. I also decided to split “Kutora” as a country divided into two opposites side of politics and magic ideals that can be simply described as the use of natural vs mechanic. However, I am a believer in things not being so black and white and while this physical piece is based on the natural side of the country, I wanted to show signs of life through mechanical-based evidence like the twisted pipes running through it. Despite all these seemingly unnecessary details for creating this physical form, by going through this process, it has allowed me to understand what this landscape should look like and the details it should have within.
Overall, Tolkien and his stories have been a huge influence for this work and many of my other projects. This past year I have taken every chance I could to reference his Middle Earth in some way in my projects and if I wasn’t able to, I would create my own narrative within my work to achieve this. Tolkien’s idea of creating a world that is familiar as Earth but with just enough of a twist to make it magical. Through doing it this way, Tolkien created a connection with the viewer or reader by creating his world as a reflection on the places he had been both growing up and during his time at war. It was my intention to have this landscape reflect the places I have seen and enjoyed similarly as Tolkien did. I also intend for this project to grow past this physical form, perhaps as a series, a book, or maybe something else entirely. Only God knows where this road will go, and time will tell as I travel.
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