Student Artist Discusses Photo Series: ‘The Pursuit of Pleasure’
Behind the scenes of a sticky situation.
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Talk overwhelms the student body about a photo project using honey. Curious conversations take over lunch table topics about who the models are and why they are drenched in this sweet substance. Senior Jordan Petteys explains her vision for this amazing project and what sparked her interest to use honey.
She wrote a poem to go along with her photo series describing the project and the purpose of it.
“Temptation’s colorful lights invite her into the house-the labyrinth of dissatisfaction. Honey drips from weak bodies completely stuck in all consuming sin, as if another taste of sweetness would complete their cravings for purpose. Envy, greed, insanity, addiction, pride, gluttony, avarice, depression, lust, sloth, and wrath consumes her, she is completely covered in honey, a golden girl she is. Those who have been drowning in “goodness” for years make her stomach churn and instead of pleasure, numbness seeps into her skin. She can never leave this labyrinth. She is so empty that honey leaks from her eyes as she weeps for the death of her soul. For many, their stories end here. She hears a sound of rushing water through an open door and she collapses into a white bath of serenity. She is baptized in pure, clean, living water. “Awaken my soul,” she sings, and she sinks deep into the presence of spirituality. Her story continues here. born again is her transfigured soul, she is free.” -Jordan Petteys
Q: “What was this project originally for?”
A: “This project was originally for a $28,000 college scholarship to Savannah College of Art and Design. I didn’t end up winning the scholarship and at first I was really upset that I didn’t get it, but I quickly realized that the purpose of this project was not for the money, but for the community and impact it made. Basically this project was to show how satisfaction and pleasure plays a role in our lives and how temporary a lot of worldly pleasures are. I wanted to show something more tangible for everything I’ve learned in high school about pleasure and satisfaction and the life experience.”
Q: “Who helped you with this project? Anyone specific?”
A: “Senior Gaby Tello, was really the face of this project. I specifically wanted to use her because when I was in my room being all passionate and making a mood board and songs for this, God just kept bringing Gaby to me. I can’t even describe how much she has helped me with this and especially because I’ve known her for so long it’s just so cool that she was able to help me bring this vision to life. I asked her to do so much for me like literally drench herself from head to toe in honey and drive us around and find a house. I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to do it because she really embodies the love of humanity in her spirit and in her soul. Everyone who helped me with this project was so selfless and they journeyed outside their comfort zones because they cared about me. They kept saying ‘we’re doing this for Jordan,’ and I’ve never had anyone do something like this for me before and it just made me feel so loved and like people really believed in me.”
Q: “Why did you decide to use honey for this project?”
A: “Honey is symbolic for how we get stuck in these pleasures that often times consume us. For example it says that, ‘These people are in this house which is a labyrinth of dissatisfaction.’ I love the symbolism in how it looks so golden and tastes lovely, but in reality it’s so gross when you are covered in it. There is no satisfaction when you are so deep in it or when your stomach hurts because you ate too much. It is so hard to clean yourself up because you just feel like; ‘Why would I ever make that change when I’m already so deep in. There’s no hope for me.’ I’ve noticed that people feel (myself too) as if they have to get more and more of these little pleasures to be happy, but really are further drenching themselves in “honey.” That is why it’s a labyrinth of dissatisfaction.”
Q: “How did your faith play a role in this project?”
A: “God put this message on my heart starting sophomore year. God has made me to be super relational and such a feeler and with this wiring, it has brought me to this place where I’m just trying to understand humanity. God is in all of our pleasures even in our mistakes and unfavorable circumstances. There was a time before we started this project where I really didn’t know if I was strong willed enough for this. I had this moment where I was just laying in my bed being sad and thinking that this wasn’t going to work out. Then God came and brought me a passage in the Bible about Moses and the burning bush. It pretty much explains how God had given this incredible calling to Moses, but Moses didn’t want to do it and obey. This related a lot to me because I was like ‘Why did you choose me? I don’t want to do this. I’m not equipped. There are so many people who are more capable of doing this than I am.’ That was exactly how I felt but God was like ‘Okay you’re gonna do it anyway and I’m gonna move through you, I’m gonna use you, I chose you specifically, not anybody else. I gave this message to you because I’m speaking in and through you and I’m working through you to create something beautiful so you can show who I am to people who need to hear about me.’ “
Q: “Have you gotten good feedback on this project from your peers?”
A: “Yes I have gotten awesome feedback from my friends and peers. Even though I am sometimes insecure about this project and not getting the scholarship really shot me down, I feel like the people who have helped me with it have just been such a support in my life and made me feel like it matters. All of my friends at youth group really helped me just realize that my art does matter and that God gave me a gift that he wants me to share with people. I mean I love making art and I love photography more than anything that even if I really sucked at it, it wouldn’t matter because I love it so much. I feel like a lot of people have supported me through it and have taken the time to watch the video that I made or actually seek me out and tell me that it means something to them. Now I only want to make art that means something, like I’m tired of making stuff that doesn’t matter or that just looks cool. I want there to be a purpose behind what I do.”
Q: “What college are you planning on going to next year?”
A: “Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). I always new when I first started looking at colleges that SCAD is truly where my heart is. I knew immediately that I was meant to go there and when I went to visit their campus, it was just so beautiful and they actually love learning there and they love networking and setting up artists for success. It’s just so hard in this society for artists to make it and feel like they have a place in the world of lawyers and doctors and it feels like the world doesn’t need artists anymore but it’s false. This world does need artists and I’m just really excited to go there because I feel like I’ll get to live my passion every day.”