Leonardo DiVinci's figure drawings and anatomical sketches interest me. His exploration of ideas and exhausting research inspired my practice. As I have continued with my own exploration, I have expanded my research to include ideas from philosophy and science as well as art.
The contemporary philosopher, Susan J. Brison has been a great influence in my practice. One quote that has inspired much of my work comes from her book, Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self. She said, “We are our molecules; our deepest fears, joys, and desires are embodied in the chemical signals of our neurotransmitters. But we are also creators of meaning, making up- and made out of- our histories, our idiosyncrasies, our crazy plot-lines, our unpredictable outcomes. How are we to make sense of the fact that we are both?”1 It is that question that I try to explore in my work.
Recently, I have been exploring Francisco J. Varela's ideas of the portable laboratory. He said, “Human beings in their embedded, situated life, constitute a de facto topographical place (the body, the self) where procedures and gestures can be carried out to directly explore the human experience itself (the quest).”2 In my practice, I seek to explore both the physical and psychological aspects trauma and healing.
I look to other artists for inspiration and affirmation in regards to my work. I am certainly not the first artist to portray ideas of the body and its fragility. Hannah Wilke, whose work dealt with ideas of beauty and vulnerability, is perhaps one of more influential artists for me. While her work greatly differs from mine, I believe that fundamentally she was asking similar questions of society through her work as I am. When I first saw her work, I felt for the first time that I did not need to hide my scars, and while it took me a while to find my own way of expressing my own journey of self-acceptance, it is Wilke's work that planted the seed. Several female (and often feminist) artists have been finding their way into my list of artists who have questioned society's view of beauty, the body's fragility, and/or violence. This ever-growing list includes Mary Kelly, Suzanne Lacy, Ana Mendieta, Nancy Spero, Louise Bourgeois, and Kiki Smith.
Artists investigate trauma in order to deepen understanding of self and the ways in which they interact with the world as they develop, heal and integrate experiences. Moving between the roles of survivor, investigator, and observer; seeing trauma both as an insider and outsider, as well as many points on the gradient in between, the focus of their work relates to self and community. “Our bodies’ sensory apparatus allows us to gain knowledge about the world and to seek pleasure and feel pain.”3
We are in a constant state of growth and decay simultaneously. Traumas remind us of our mortality while recovery causes us to grow psychologically. When traumas occur, it is like looking into a kaleidoscope; the original “image” of self is...