That Dirty Dog Nicotine!

Artist Statement

Jacob Stephens, in Mrs. Ziegler’s Twin Valley High School Art 1 Class, 3D Mixed Media, Feb. 17, 2011


I created this Joseph Cornell inspired box to convey my belief that smoking and other destructive, constricting, and or addictive habits and behaviors cover up and keep a person from seeing the full extent of beauty that life has to offer.

Top Layer / Initial Reaction

The top layer represents struggle.  When a person initially looks into my box they see much black, grey and white, (to represent dullness) with hints of color and life hidden underneath the mesh ridden bondage.  A black and white picture of an ugly man smoking (addiction isn’t impressing or attracting anyone, it’s not worth it, social and emotional harm) with a sarcastic comment regarding smoking’s glamour (hinting to society’s tendency to make destructive habits the “cool” thing to do), and a tar filled lung on the left with tufts of smoking rising out of it, representing the physical and mental harm these habits cause. The cigarette hanging from the left side of my box represents smoking, or whatever harmful habit a person may be consumed with.  It reads “ Throw this away to let go of your struggles and reveal All life has to offer.”  There is a knot on the right outer wall of the box with a sign hanging from it that reads “TRASH”. 


If the cigarette is placed into the trash, (symbolic of ridding yourself of the addiction or whatever harmful thing it may be) the lower layer of the box is revealed, representing discovery, paradise, happiness, success, and life. The entire inside walls of the box are layered with pieces of art depicting paradise, cities, nature, and companionship, a man rowing boat, a house by the river, a meadow, the forest, fruit, and a New York key chain, a map of the California coast, and one of Utah’s wild, a Native American chief, feather, and shells to represent a simple, natural, and spiritual lifestyle, but some of these things are unfortunately mostly covered by the nasty lung, (representing that not all things may be possible to regain after an addiction or mistake, the ability to speak could be lost in a drunk driving crash, it could become illegal for someone to teach if they drink underage, or they could get lung cancer and despite giving smoking up, that consequence will never leave them).  There is a bobby pin and ring of brass placed in the center of the large compartment to represent a sextant, which is a device used for navigation. (discovery and exploration are invigorating and wonderful things).  There is a running medal in the top that represents health, energy, competition, and games.  A shell and palm tree to represent paradise, and I used a book cover with a picture of two people on a beach together (to represent the beauty of relationship) as the floor of my project. The chain and knot in the top right of my box are visible before and after the addiction is lifted, this represents the lasting memory, damage, and gained wisdom of going through hardship. 

Big Idea

There is text inside the lower layer that reads from top down “truly great LIFE, more Persons should know” meaning that there is absolutely phenomenal life within everyone’s reach, but they have to dispose of what is holding them back first, and there are far many more people that deserve and should know such truly great life that is allowed by keeping yourself from such destructive habits.

Lesson Learned

 I think that art can be a great way to get through to people who are closed to talking about their struggles.  Art can capture one’s attention, it sneaks through a person’s defenses and can speak directly to the heart when powerful and passionate enough.

Visual Arts