In a fluorescently-lit cubicle, an office worker sits surrounded by stacks of paper and folders. As the clock ticks, she scans each document, one after another, into a computer—for eight hours at a time.
It’s this kind of boredom that inspired Alison Hammerly ’15, an art major from Lansing, to create a series of office drawings for her SIP.
“I was spending eight hours a day scanning documents,” Hammerly said of her seasonal office job that inspired her SIP collection. “One day I looked back and I had scanned 400 documents that day. The sheer number of times that I had repeated the exact same process made me think about mental exhaustion and boredom a lot.”
Hammerly decided to research the history of boredom dating back to biblical times, and also studied the impact of boredom on mental health.
“Too much repetitive work can cause actual depression,” she said. “Prolonged boredom leads to desperation, anxiety, and a lack of interest.”
During winter break, Hammerly started to create her collection of drawings that combine pencil sketches with Photoshop.
“It’s the medium I’m most comfortable in,” Hammerly said about her choice to use digitally colored pencil drawings for her SIP. “I became attracted to it after following artists online.”
The collection features 11 pieces that represent dreamy, stylized depictions of the mundanity of office life and its impact on workers, with elements of the unreal mixed in. Pieces like “At Work,” which features a woman in a cubicle that has been transported to the aisle of a grocery store, show the “anxiety and restlessness that are a part of the human condition,” according to Hammerly’s artist statement. Some drawings are also incredibly detailed, like “Hourglass,” which depicts a woman’s cubicle filling up with paperclips like sand in an hourglass.
Hammerly said that although her collection focuses on the workplace, she sees her work as displaying “a symptom of modern life in general.”
“Anxiety and restlessness are part of the human condition,” she says in her artist statement. “Even the mundane and monotonous can bring anxiety.”
Hammerly’s collection was featured in the lobby of the Fine Arts Building during eighth week as part of a series of SIP exhibitions in the art department. She also gave a presentation about her methods and the research that led to the project on May 21 at 4 p.m. in the Recital Hall.