Lost and Gained
Skin is our protection from the outside world and is the only part of us that truly interacts with it. Our skin also bears the remnants of this interaction. Our cuts and bruises, burns and stretchmarks are an autobiography of our experiences.
Weight; it may be gained or lost – but the signs are forever evident on the skin. The weight will be gone, but the loose skin and stretchmarks will persist as reminders of the past - whether welcome or not.
This series was prompted by the exhibition A Woman in Her Place - featuring the manipulation of a slip. I considered - what is a slip to a woman and why does she wear it? The slip is meant to hide the lumps and imperfections of our body. It pulls in our rolls and disguises self-determined trouble areas. What if the purpose of the slip was reversed? What if it actually flaunted what is held underneath? This brings up the discrepancy between the varied shapes of women and the persistent uniformity of clothing. In this first piece, entitled Flesh, I explored the differences between my own shape and that of the standard slip that was given me. I expanded the hips and removed fabric on the waist and breasts. These alterations became an integral part of the piece and brought significance to the use of the clothing items as a base and canvas.
The Harlequin and Inherited, Inflicted, Chosen continue the exploration of undergarment as a surface, however, through the use of ink explore the discrepancy between natural marks and man made tattoos.
Future works will focus on the ideas of age and motherhood, concepts which are becoming prevalent in my life. I will continue to create bodies out of undergarments but seek to build a more lifelike surface for the skin that will allow me to fully integrate the subtlety of the wrinkles of age and stretchmarks after giving birth. I will work with polymers and various acrylics over the fabric surface before integrating pen, pencil, and colored media to create these sculptures. I want these pieces to interact with the viewers as other figures in a room, more-so than specimen on a wall, thus these pieces will require more complex metal supports to hold up the heavier medium and will become more dynamic and in the round.
This project will bring focus to the specificity and uniqueness of each skin and the life lived within it. Generally, we seek to confront a face to emphasize with the identity of a figure, but here, the skin will serve as portrait. This exhibition of these works will seek to bring awareness to the diversity of experience of women in our society as well as to raise a series of questions about the value of these experiences: What are we willing to give up for the sake of gaining something new? How many sweets do we deny ourselves to lose weight? Do we give up our youthful frame to rear a child? Would you accept the savage cuts of surgery to cure your ailment? Do you give up your natural skin for a graphic narrative?
This project serves as my own autobiography. It was born out of my struggle to identify with the imperfections of my skin and continues to fruition through my exploration and acceptance of the differences of my fellow women's experiences. It is pertinent to create these pieces as I am experiencing these changes.