Written by UWaterloo Faculty of Arts

Alyana Honours Arts and Business | Fine Arts

Alyana Honours Arts and Business | Fine Arts by UWaterloo Faculty of Arts

Alyana, a Fine Arts major, wanted to foster community at the University of Waterloo. Through her FINE 300 studio project, she was given the option of three themes, with the professor allowing her to choose the one she felt closest to. Through this course, “You Are My_________” was born. Throughout the day, students were encouraged to take a button, fill in the sentence and then pass the button along to someone who they felt fit the sentence they created.

“I’m interning at the Button Factory, so I’ve been making a lot of buttons. I really like the process of making them, and they let me use their supplies at cost. I like how they come in many different colours and I wanted them to look like the candy hearts you give out at Valentine’s day.”

Buttons in a bowl

Alyana was heavily inspired by the “Portrait of Ross” by Felix Gonzales-Torres, a painting the artist did of his late partner Ross, who passed away from AIDS-related complications. The ‘portrait’ was 175 pounds of candy, Ross’ ideal weight, and museum goers were encouraged to take a piece of candy away with them. The candy represented the diminishing weight and fatigue put on an AIDS patients and the museum would continuously replenish the supply, symbolizing the idea of eternal life.

“It was interesting to me that people would take and give back to the piece and it was the act of giving and taking that really inspired me.”

Student putting buttons on their shirts

She attributes the success of the project to how easy it was for students to get involved. She thinks that its inherent to want to express how we feel, and having a gesture as simple as giving and receiving a button was a simple way to express these emotions. She also suggests that using social media to build anticipation was a great way to get the word out about the piece. Overall, she believes people were attracted to the project because of the ambiguity involved in relational art pieces.

“I think relational art is really interesting because it’s hard to foresee how people will react to it and interact with it. I think the UWaterloo community was generally curious about the event and wanted to learn more.”

Student holding a bowl of buttons

Story by guest writer: Victoria Stacey

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