In my life and work, I have grown to desire a more fluid understanding of identity, one that blurs gender boundaries as well as cultural and linguistic boundaries. I am also interested in blurring the physical boundaries between the body and landscape as well as the intellectual boundaries between our bodies and culture. In my thesis work, I collected imagery and recombined that imagery to create mythical spaces that cloud the distinctions between the body and the landscape, between organs and machines, between human and animal, and between male and female. The works are composed of collaged layers of colored pencil drawings inspired from found images, many of which are textures and patterns from the landscape and water mixed with organs, muscles and skeletal structures from the body.
Many of these concerns are deeply rooted in the ideas raised in Donna Haraway’s “ A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980’s”. In this essay, she calls for a reworking of personal identity that includes a more fluid mix and blurring of human/animal, organism/machine, and male/female. She desires a “monstrous world without gender”. Haraway writes,
"So my cyborg myth is about transgressed boundaries, potent fusions, and dangerous possibilities which progressive people might explore as one part of needed political work. One of my premises is that most American socialists and feminists see deepened dualisms on mind, body, animal and machine, idealism and materialism in the social practices….But a slight perverse shift of perspective might better enable us to contest for meanings, as well as for other forms of power and pleasure in technologically mediated societies…. a cyborg world might be about lived social and bodily realities in which people are not afraid of their joint kinship with animals and machines, not afraid of permanently partial identities and contradictory standpoints….Single visions produces worse illusions than double vision or many-headed monsters. Cyborg unities are monstrous and illegitimate; in our present political circumstances, we could hardly hope for more potent myths for resistance and recoupling." (Haraway, pg.13)
Where does our body begin and end? Do the thoughts in our mind inhabit our physical body and how does that relate to our relationships with others and with the many versions of ourselves? How does the technological world influence our relationship with each other and our bodies? Haraway’s monstrous world without gender is one way of celebrating a world without normative hierarchies. By blurring our fixed notions of identity to include many contradictory and non-essential understandings of identity, it may some day be possible to live in a world less dramatically plagued by racism, homophobia, sexism, and classism. The piece anamesa came directly from these ideas. “Anamesa” means between in Greek. It is the areas between our fixed notions of identity and physical boundaries that interest me. The figure in the piece is meant to be a morphed figure without gender or race, a mixture of animal and human as well as animal and machine.
In art history, the landscape has often been associated with the feminine body. In the piece Circular Ruins, I wanted to create a landscape that was neither masculine nor feminine, a place where our bodies could become part of the landscape, where the architecture of our bodies became part of building ruins, where plane wings became bird wings, and roots became spines. It is also a landscape inspired by mythology. The figures in the piece are modern-day versions of the fabulous many-headed monsters of Greek Mythology, chimeras and sirens collaged together of airplane wings, feathers, spines, organs, architectural infrastructures, rocks, and roots.
In Circular Ruins, I tired to create a space that is both intimate and inviting as well as larger than life and a bit horrifying. It is a combination of the inside and outside of our bodies as well as the micro and macro worlds of our landscape. There is an element of the destructive relationship we have with our environment as well as references to natural and human-made disasters. It is a blurring of beauty and the grotesque. We live in a world full of connections and contradictions. In my work, I have tried to envision a multi-gendered and multi-colored monstrous space without binaries, a world filled with connections, both harmonious and tumultuous.
Haraway, Donna. 2004. The Haraway Reader. New York. Routledge.