Artist Statement (for IMAGES scroll down)
I am thinking of intimacy, frailty and aversion. Vulnerabilities in the body from which we turn away. I am thinking of breaches. Breaches that harm, breaches that might heal….
A whistle- blower may breach trust to stop a greater injustice. A locked door breached may free a person trapped inside. Recently my father, underwent emergency bypass surgery. Is a kiss a breach? Failing to, what dis-ease festers?
To employ surgical masks as pages came to me while considering the paradox of such breaches: violent acts whose intent is to prevent greater harm. The disposable masks are donned to protect, yet they also strip the wearer of individuality, obscuring the part of the body by which we identify one another, eclipsing the mouth with an anonymous symbol of power, vulnerability or poision.
Meanwhile, October. Your trees change color, drop their skirts. Falling leaves are an outward sign of an internal shift. The tree prepares for sleep. For a time when it can no longer prepare food. Where I live people flock to collect the prettiest leaves, press them between those of a book.
Unlike the autumn foliage, we often avoid others when they show signs of frailty. I have been guilty of this. At an artist residency last fall, I noticed how frequently people congregated according to age. Our aversion to frailty, vulnerability, aging, dying can lead prematurely to perhaps the greatest loss—that of intimacy.
While the outsides of my masks thickened with scabs of glue and gauze and leaves in various stages of decomposition, I wanted the interiors to hold something private-- intimate but similarly fragmented. I discovered a stack of discarded books. I tore leaves from those texts, and excised language that felt intimate or seductive, that would reward the viewer who leaned in for a closer look.
The current embodiments of this exploration are an art installation and 10 accordion bound books. Five books fold flat and maybe displayed horizontally. Five are designed to be suspended from the ceiling. For the installation, masks are suspended from nylon thread at varying heights approximating adult heads. Suspension from a single point allows the masks to twist in the air suggesting both leaves mid-flight and missing persons.
It is my hope that the space created by the unoccupied masks invites the viewer to lean in and consider their own relationship to frailty, aging and mortality, to become gentler with themselves to foster greater intimacy with other, and dear Earth, with you.
Assemblage: disposable surgical masks, mod podge, trace amounts wax paper, acrylic paint, discarded texts, oil pastel, chalk, charcoal, ink, deciduous leaves, gauze, embroidery floss.
Graves, Robert. Wife to Mr. Milton: The Story of Marie Powell. Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1954. First published: Cassell, 1942.
Lahr, John and Jonathan Price. Life Show: How to See Theater in Life and Life in Theatre. New York: The Viking Press, 1973.
Musical Instruments Through The Ages. Ed. Anthony Baines. Baltimore: Pelican Books, 1961.
Smiley, Jane. At Paradise Gate. Advance uncorrected proofs. New York: Simon and Shuster, 1981.