The boundary between our physiology and psychology is blurry and fragile at best. We are aware of the power our minds can hold over our bodies through placebo effects, psychosomatic disorders and monumental athletic achievements made possible by the exertion of sheer will. We also know that the physiology of our brains can have dramatic effects on our mood, impulses, memories and cognitive prowess. Yet, even with modern day’s impressive level of medical advancement, there is still tremendous mystery surrounding our understanding of where our body ends and our “self” begins. I am particularly interested in how this knowledge, or lack thereof, impacts our ability and desire to control our surroundings and selves.
While at the Clay Studio I plan on developing two correlating bodies of work that explore our range between resilience and resignation in response to stressors in our lives.
For the first series, I will be working with the Mutter Museum to explore it’s founder, Thomas Mutter’s, compassionate approach to medicine. This sentiment, which drove Mutter’s practice, has led me to want to explore more of the individuals in the collection, the complexity of their disease or disorder and more importantly, how it effected and shaped their lives. In response to this research, I am planning to build a series of medium scale sculptures that contrast soft, anatomical forms, with sharp, heavy rock formations that symbolize the weight of their burdens.
For the second series, I want to create several works comprised of accumulations of drips in order to capture the idea of collapse and loss. I think there is something very beautiful in the idea of collapse, perhaps through the peace achieved through surrender. I want to try to capture some of this beauty through exploring the range of how drips can be interpreted based on their coloration, formation and scale. Several of these works will also feature mourning rings of braided hair to demonstrate very personal experiences of loss.
My current body of work, “Wonder and Weight,” simultaneously considers the awe inspired by this complex physiology and the burden it imposes upon us. I am using very direct imagery of pulse rates and brain scans coupled with sculptures comprised of interwoven organs, nerves and drips that together create an unusual landscape that is both recognizable and unsettling. These works explore how we respond to stress in our lives, whether it stems from internal or external forces. There is tension between the dark mass, symbolizing the "dark cloud" or "weight" that we carry around, and the figurative elements, which are under strain, sometimes collapsing but ultimately persevering. This resilience is important, recognizing that what may initially be a burden, ultimately makes us stronger.
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