Marissa Rubaiai, a junior double major in Studio Art and Media and Information with a minor in Comics and Graphic Novels, received CREATE! Micro-Grant funding to support her Rope of Emotion project, which is influenced by the multitude of emotions experienced by so many as a result of the death, loss, isolation, and grief caused by COVID-19.
Rope of Emotion took two months for Rubaiai to complete and consists of three separate life-sized figures that come together to tell a story. Each figure, enclosed in its own isolated, plastic bubble, is made of styrofoam and clay that is wrapped in yarn, giving them the visual that they are “yarn or string people.”
“The first figure is reaching for the second figure that is falling backwards. The second figure is dying of COVID-19 while wearing an oxygen mask and has strings unravelling to portray their life unravelling as they die from the virus. The third figure is representing the first figure, but now they are sitting down and holding a pile of yarn from their loved one who died. There are string lights within the pile of yarn to represent their memory living on through their loved ones,” Rubaiai said. “Each figure has certain color yarn wrapped around them to represent emotions felt through this pandemic.”
To tie the project together, Rubaiai used clear plastic couch covers and bubble wrap to create an inflatable bubble around each figure to represent isolation.
Her inspiration for the piece came from the idea of death and how death was everywhere when the pandemic started.
Whatever big idea you have, go for it. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you. This was my very first attempt at anything like this, and through determination and support, I was able to bring my vision to life. There are no boundaries or creative limits in this world.Marissa Rubaiai, Studio Art and Media and Information double major
“A very close friend of mine lost her grandma to COVID-19,” Rubaiai said. “ I tried to put myself in her shoes so I could really understand how to portray the depth of emotions and grief her family was experiencing. The scary thing is, what she was going through is not uncommon during this pandemic and could easily happen to any one of us. That is why this project is so important.”
Rubaiai says her time at MSU has helped her tremendously with the resources available, the outstanding faculty and facilities, and the other majors around her that keep her inspired and push her to do better.
“I would like to especially give a shout out to professor Jacquelynn Sullivan. She was very supportive of my ideas through her class when I wanted to push the guidelines set on assignments,” Rubaiai said. “I made a wearable sculpture piece in her class that pushed my creative boundaries. Since then, I have opened my creative practice to new things, such as this project.”
Rubaiai offers the following advice to other students: “Whatever big idea you have, go for it. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you. This was my very first attempt at anything like this, and through determination and support, I was able to bring my vision to life. There are no boundaries or creative limits in this world. Also, don’t forget to take care of your mental health. That always should come first, especially in a time like this. Take it easy on yourself while continuing your art.”
Rubaiai plans to continue to work on her art and hopes to land an internship with an animation company soon.
The CREATE! Micro-Grant Program selected 12 student projects to each receive $500 to respond critically and imaginatively to events occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those 12 projects, including Rubaiai’s Rope of Emotion project, can be viewed online through the CREATE! Micro-Grant Virtual Exhibit.