Just Hit Send (WhiteRosesArt.com)
Just Hit Send by Heather Miller

Title: Just Hit Send
Year: 2010
Size: ~18″ x ~6″

Just Hit Send was made using a plastic doll, circuit boards, acrylic paint, resin, and computer wire mounted on wood.

The Story:

Just Hit Send has a rather involved story.  From the moment I started to create art on a serious basis (e.g. non-hobby), I vowed never to use a doll in my art.  The use of dolls, especially Barbie type dolls, is so cliched and overdone in my opinion.  Yet, in 2010, I found myself in search of a doll.  It starts when I was in art school (2008-2011) with my pre-BFA application review & my Drawing II class final project.  Skip to the bottom for the short version.

Before I could apply to the BFA program, I had to have a review of my portfolio done with 3 different professors.  During one of my reviews I was given a list of themes & objects not to include in any of the artwork lest I immediately be rejected by the BFA committee.  The list included nude women (especially those with large breasts), butterflies, flowers, mountains, trees, anime, and fantasy elements (i.e. unicorns, dragons, etc).  I stared at the two professors not believing my ears.  In high school, I had a good friend who is an amazingly talented artist.  Her portfolio would have been made of fantasy creatures – and it was good enough to get her a scholarship to a prestigious art school. Suffice it to say, I was livid thinking of all the good artists who were rejected because of something as superficial as the themes they submitted.

Stick with me, I told you the story was involved….

On to my final for Drawing II.  The assignment called for us to do a large piece inspired by the cyberpunk book we read over spring break (yes I had to do a book report for a drawing class).  Which book we read was our choice but we had to take the concept of the book we chose & put into the context of our world, among other things.  It was weirdly convoluted assignment & I honestly don’t remember all of it at this point.

The book I read was Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson.  It’s a cyberpunk novel set in the not-to-distant future where the world is run by corporations – in an extreme manner.  Every highway, every town, every slice of life that can be owned & controlled by a corporation is, in fact, owned & controlled by a corporation.  Except pizza delivery, that’s run by the Mafia.

Another part of the assignment – and my memory is a bit vague here – was something about relating all of it to our life.  That’s where the BFA portfolio review story comes into play.  I decided to put in as many of the “forbidden” themes and objects as possible within the confines of the assignment.  And yes, I was being a bit childish </sarcasm>.

Drawing II Final
My Drawing II Final – I can’t believe I’m showing this on the internet, it’s embarrassingly terrible.

First, I admit I’m not good at drawing.  Second, aside from the afore mentioned requirements, this piece had to be done in oil pastels (which we had never used before this).   Lastly, I hated art school with a passion at this point.  Nearly every class was nothing more than an ‘open studio’ with little to no instruction.  Far too often the ‘instructional’ portion of a class was nothing more than links to tutorials on Youtube & Deviant Art …..which are entirely free & accessible to any/everyone.

The panel on the left is a direct nod to Snow Crash.  I took his ideas into our world by using a combination of corporate logos & common logos (like the fast forward & rewind icons, the bluetooth tower, and the symbol for hot beverages as a sewer vent).  The billboard in the lower left comes directly from the novel.

The center panel features a nude anime girl with large breasts.  My drawing professor was on the BFA review committee & felt any depiction of a nude woman with large breasts was automatically pornographic.  The wires coming from the drawing’s right arm & foot connected her to the panel on her right.  There were vines come from her arm & leg on the left to connect her to the nature world on the panel to her left.  This served to symbolize the pull I often feel between nature & technology.  She’s on a blue grid because it was the color scheme used by the 3D modeling program I was using prior to enrolling in art school (getting better at 3D modeling was the reason for going to art school, I had one class in it).

For the nature side of things, I tried to cram the remaining “banned elements” into that side.

For the record, my BFA application was accepted (I have a BFA in digital art technically) although I didn’t really give a rat’s ass about whether I was accepted or not because it clearly wasn’t a reflection of skill.

How did the critique go?  No idea.  The professor had almost 3 hours to critique approximately 25 students.  At the 3.5 hour mark I left, she wasn’t even halfway done.  Since she just finished another rant about how evil large corporations are, provoked by the use of the Coka-Cola logo in someone else’s work, I figured my ‘critique’ was going to be one epic rant without any artistic substance at all.

So how the hell does that novella’s worth of text explain Just Hit Send???

The center panel is the direct inspiration.  At that point in time, my studio had amassed a nice collection of old circuit boards, computer wire, & other electronic components.  I was sorting through it one day, not long after the disastrous critique of my drawing.  I thought about that piece & decided I wanted to make a doll with wires coming out of her appendages.

For days I scoured the stores looking for a doll that would work, that didn’t come with $20 price tag.  I found the doll in a thrift store.  She worked perfectly because she had those old-fashioned creepy eyes that close when she’s flat.   I decided to paint clothes on her rather than leave her nude but not for any particular reason.  I think I just wanted to see how the resin would look if painted over black paint.  Rather than just mount her directly to wood, I decided a backdrop of circuit boards would be more fitting.

Although it’s hard to see in the picture, above the doll is a “send” button from an old cell phone.  That’s where the title came from.