“Solve et Coagula” – Artist Statement

A Latin phrase meaning to dissolve the body (or matter) and coagulate the spirit (or energetic essence).

An Interactive performance exploring the reinvention of social identity in the digital age. Enacted through the lens of “personal branding” this contemporary take on the mythical River Styx rite of passage marks the social emergence of the artist as “Artwork Cubed” through community participation via personal and social media interaction.   

  (Click here for participant photos)            

Alice E. Shepherd – “Artwork Cubed” – Concept, Performance, Visual Art, Installation               Chris Scruggs – “The Other Chris Scruggs” – Photography, Audio/Visual, Installation

Me (middle) and the crew! Left to right: 
Interior and set designer- Tammy Dunn,
My talented Handyman and hubby-Ron Shepherd,
Roadie-Danny Dunn,
Hostess Extraordinaire-Jennifer Scruggs

Rite of Passage: a ceremony performed to facilitate a person’s transition from one life status to another (e.g. entry into a clan).

As Brad Troemel states, ““There is no successful artist brand built on an island; each requires a level of collaboration with viewers willing to share, follow, friend, and comment on the object of their interest…What is individual about personal branding is bolstered by a need for community.”

I conceived of this project while reflecting on my internships with Adrienne Outlaw and Seed Space.  Earlier that year I had launched “Artwork Cubed” after recently leaving behind a lifetime in business and academia to delve full time into becoming an artist.  The difficulties of transitioning from one social role to another weighed heavily and, as a social scientist, I realized the process could not occur in a vacuum.  The performance was designed to define that transition through public engagement.

A special, “liminal” area is set up where “initiates” are isolated from the crowd (i.e., society).  Entry is gained via special coins (bearing the artists logo, online info and “Friend Request” in the artist’s handwriting) which represent payment required of the dead for their souls to safely cross the River Styx.  Sheet glass, scored, broken by hand by the artist and signed by the initiate for later fusing into an artwork serves to represent the “Solve” motto.  Artist and initiate stamp each other with the artist’s logo to seal the deal.  Upon exit (across the projected image onto the floor of a rushing river) they are presented with a photo of their experience to upload and share.  They are then escorted back into society after having taken a vow to “share” the coin and encourage another to undergo initiation, thereby completing both social media and personal interactions.

2 thoughts on ““Solve et Coagula” – Artist Statement”

  1. OH!!! Alice! i am So Happy for Your New Adventure in Your growing exploration of the Art World! And the Blond Hair! Beautiful! And Ron! Ron is there too! Oh How cool!!!!!


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