The Four Corners of Smithfield and E. Carson

The Questions

What is the personality of your intersection?

How does the intersection make you feel?

What about your intersection stands out?

My First Impressions

Forty minute bus trips are definitely not an activity that I am used to experiencing in order to complete my homework. But, in the case of this assignment, the effort was worth the adventure. Too often I get caught up in thinking about the wrong things and worrying myself. Instead, I could be enjoying my time and experiencing the environments and situations that surround me.

The bus dropped us off downtown; a few blocks away our destination sat waiting for us to arrive and take in its glory. But first we had to make the trek to the Smithfield St. Bridge. Over the course of this walk, it was interesting to see how quickly the environment can change. Within minutes we went from crowded city streets and looming buildings to the open air of the waterfront and the large mass of foliage that envelops Mount Washington. And while the busy city traffic continued to follow us, the streets were more open, and there was a greater freedom of movement. From our viewpoint on the bridge, we could see all of the monuments and features that decorated our intersection. It was then that I had already formed a predisposition that this spot was going to be significant. Despite anything I might find, despite the personality that I was soon to become accustomed to, my first impression of this spot, from my view on the bridge, was hopeful and generally curious of what I was going to discover.

Stopping and Going: The Personality of Smithfield/E. Carson

Waiting. The intersection of Smithfield and Carson is a haven for passersby. People are waiting; whether waiting for the light to change, waiting to cross the street, or waiting for a bus or trolley, the people here only occupy the space for a minute or two. Most travelers never bother to take a moment to look at the view that they have such easy access to. Mount Washington covered in green, with the incline rising up the hill, dominates the scene. On one corner, Station Square sweeps in tourists. On another the trolley whirs past and into the tunnel, along with buses carrying dozens of commuters towards their homes on Mount Washington. Another sits toward the riverside, bringing bikers and runners up towards the road. These are all the pieces that make up the entire image of this roadway. If one word could be applied overall it would be busy. People are moving, and they are moving fast. Everyone has somewhere to go, and their destination was evidently not this intersection. Even with all the views available the environment still felt cold and lonely. While there was plenty of vehicular traffic, there was very little foot traffic. The corners were isolated, the sidewalks empty,except for the occasional visitor. This place was both lively and dead at the same time, and I felt a great contrast as I stood on the corner and observed the life of the intersection.

The Task and Process: Papercutting

As a way to interpret our intersection, the class was tasked to take a photo from our intersection and use it to create a papercut design that symbolized the same personality we analyzed. Our reliefs did not have to be realistic interpretations of the photograph, but they did have to be highly reminiscent and possess the same feelings, styles and emotions that the intersection might have actually had.

The first step of this process was to trace our photograph and break our image down into shapes. This image is the original trace of my entire photograph, before being critiqued and cropped. The entire image was too busy, and ultimately a larger task than I should have taken on.

After making copies of my drawing, I used my tracing and Bristol board to begin cutting out the layers for my relief. My technique was to cut out the each silhouette that could be observed. I found that this was the most efficient way for me to understand the various layering that the assignment required. As depicted above, with each new layer, objects would be removed and some details would be added in order to create the sense of depth that I wanted to represent.

Once each layer was cut out of the paper, all that was left was to align each piece and glue them together. I finished the process by removing any excess glue and trimming any edges that went over the space of my composition.

Critique: 09/06/16 — All White Relief (1st Attempt)

One of the biggest problems that I ran into with my first attempt was that the layering that I was performing was too heavy and too dense. It create too much weight on the page and used an unnecessary amount of paper in the process. Another flaw was that I underestimated the time and effort required to put all the details that I had shown in my drawing. That fact, combined with my inability to plan my time accordingly, led to a messy relief. The thing I need to take away is to take my time and to find a less wasteful way to create the layers that I want for my intersection.

Critique: 09/08/16 — All White Relief (2nd Attempt)

Today we presented our second round of reliefs for critique. Hearing the advice and conversations occurring before me, I was not only informed on what I could do better within my own work, but also inspired to keep trying to make my piece the best that I think it can be. I think that the thing I took away the most was to be more conscious of how layering appears and the weight that different layering can create. I felt in my first piece that I used too many layers. The piece was very dense and had too much depth present. In my second attempt I simplified the silhouettes of my layers even further in order to make the page seem lighter. Overall I think that I still have much to improve with my knife work and the way I go about creating depth, but I feel more confident now that I have been practicing more with this assignment.

Critique: 09/13/16 — Grey Scale Relief

After completing two versions of the all white reliefs, the class was asked to create a relief using four tones of paper. It was our responsibility to arrange the tones onto our layers in order to create subject matter that flowed and was still able to represent our space. I found this part of the assignment much easier to work with. After having the experience with the last two pieces, I was beginning to better understand how to layer my pieces. My grey scale piece was much lighter than the first two. Additionally, the use of tone adds a better understanding of what is going on in our spaces. With the white relief it was hard to distinguish all of the pieces, but the grays provide a better sense of depth and positioning.

Critique: 09/15/16 — Color Splash Relief

Our final piece in the series was to replace one of our grey tones with a color provided to us by our professors. I chose orange because I think it best represented the busy and in-your-face feeling that dominated my intersection. The color shoots out and occupies every corner you look, which can be both a good and bad thing. This was the piece that I felt most confident in. I felt that I had vastly improved in my ability to construct the paper and was more comfortable in creating the layering of my piece. The only changes that I wanted to make after the critique were a few changes to the colors of certain objects, but overall I was pleased with the work and effort I dedicated to creating this final piece.


I found through creating this project that many of us go day by day without looking at the little details that surround us. There is certainly an excess of things to be observed, yet so many of us are focused on so little. I never thought I would become close with an intersection. But, in my current position, I feel a personal connection with the space I visited. After taking so much time to observe and analyze and photograph, I feel like I am part of the intersections story. Although the work was challenging, and difficult to adjust to, I feel appreciative to have dedicated my time to three pieces that I find really beautiful. I think the transition between the three shows an increasing progress, while still remaining true to the vision that I wanted the viewer to perceive. In the end, what i hope to take away from this assignment is to better incorporate my thoughts and observations into the environment that I am in. Through this, I want to gain a better sense of self and a better sense of the places that I inhabit.

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