Working Essay

1224 words - 5 pages

Looking at my work, one may wonder whether they are looking at something tiny or enormous. Is the object representing something interior or exterior? This dichotomy correlates to idea of separation, or even conflict, between mind and body. Are the two separate, or are they symbiotic, and entirely dependent on each other? Just as some people believe that meditation can clarify or synchronize the mind and body, my work is a process that symbolically expresses trauma, disease, and death, beyond what is apparent from a physical body, bringing about a similar synchronization.
Recently, I have been exploring Francisco J. Varela's ideas of the portable laboratory. He said, “Human beings in their ...view middle of the document...

His exploration of ideas and exhausting research inspired my practice. In addition to DiVinci, 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. 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 initially 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.
Artists investigate trauma, the body, or violence 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; experiencing trauma first hand and witnessing it in others, as well as many points on the gradient in between, the focus of their work relates to self and community. LEAD IN>>> “Our bodies’ sensory apparatus allows us to gain knowledge about the world and to seek pleasure and feel pain.”3
From the moment of birth, we are in a constant state of growth and decay simultaneously. Traumas remind us of our mortality while recovery causes us to grow both physically (through compensation or regeneration) and psychologically. When traumas occur, it is like looking into a kaleidoscope; the original “image” of self is still there, but now it is fractured and organized in new way, often making it difficult to recognize the original image. The “new” image is just as beautiful as the one before it, it has just changed. Robertson and McDaniel said “Our bodies function like a prism through which we perceive the world.”4 MAKE POINT ABOUT OWN WORK
In addition to researching preceding artists, I generate my own ideas through materials that I gather from multiple sources. I photograph skin, bone, and pathologies. I collect medical-related, ephemeral objects, such as letters, cards, medical records, photos, X-rays, microscope slides, and lab results that all hold memory and incorporate them into my work. Transparency film is reminiscent of feeling exposed. The images on x-rays are ghost-like images of the inside, usually depicting broken, damaged, or injured...

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