Friday, August 26, 2011

Creepy... in a good way?

I thought I'd share my most recent sculptural work. It's definitely a work in progress, and I'm working in a such a way I normally don't. Typically, I start out with a concept I'd like to explore, and then I free associate with the imagery. Or I'll make lists, free associating with words, seeing where these ideas take me. More often than not, I end up picking around in the subconscious, bringing to light dream-like imagery, concepts, ideas, issues... When I have a particularly compelling image or concept, I meditate on it and let all the kookie Lynch -esque imagery swirl about a bit, and percolate.

Then, something happens. I have all this amazing stuff floating around in my head. My conscious brain takes it, strips it, organizes it, discards the bits that don't make sense. And because of this, I think there could be an element of intimacy that I desire lacking from my finished work. I'm sometimes caught up in asking myself, "But, why?" and if I don't have an answer, I think it must not be important. So, I struggle with knowing what's pertinent and what's not. What's extraneous? What's editable? What's the meat, what's the fat? Problem is, if I don't know what something means to me, I lose steam on it. It no longer holds the same allure. Part of me wonders if this is the pitfall of being an academically trained artist--- you're used to being asked why. And you kinda need to have an answer.

I've started to wonder what it would be like to just work, without thinking too much. So, that's what this project is about. It's much slower in coming to fruition, and there's a clumsiness to it I'm trying to decide if I enjoy. Now, I've done my a bit of deconstructing with it just so I'll have some direction to take, but everything's up for debate. And who knows, maybe I'll become too self-conscious and scrap the whole thing. Maybe it's not creepy in a good way... maybe it's just... creepy. In that Silence of the Lambs sort of way. (shudder)

So, with that in mind, meet my girl. I have a strange affinity for her. After all, she is me-- sort of.

I started out with a packing tape-cast figure of myself. I cut her up to make a pattern of her, traced those parts onto unbleached muslin and scrap fabric and sewed her together. She has rough seams and loose strings. She has articulated joints. She's a little lumpy and marshmallow-y. She remained blank for quite some time. I sat her on the couch, I hung her from the ceiling, I threw her on the floor. I made two of her. But nothing came from it and she lay discarded in the corner for some time. My dog would constantly rub up against her hand making the tips of her fingers a little dirty.

Then one night I got this wild hair. I decided she needed eyes, lips, fingers and toes, and bright pink bubblegum nipples-- never-mind that they stare out from her torso somewhat cockeyed.Oh, and a belly button.
But she just sat there limply. I asked her what she wanted-- several times, but she her gaze is intense and mute.

I said to her, "A hoop skirt. That's what you need. Something heavy-duty, and maybe you're on wheels." She didn't protest, so I got on it. I recycled hula hoops from the You Are Here installation, covered them with plaster gauze, rubbed in powdered graphite, affixed some castor wheels.

Now what? I kept along this same theme and built a cage like structure for her torso and neck. The back isn't done yet, but she'll essentially be encased when I'm done.

She seems to like it. Her expression is still serene and accepting, so I'll take her compliance as approval. If, however, I awake to her standing over me one night, I'll know we've got a problem. Thank god her wheels will only allow her to go in circles.

So, now we're at a crossroad. She needs something else. I have some ideas percolating, but I keep wondering if I can sustain it. Right now, I am working on a sheer, powder blue tulle skirt, embroidered with colorful little brains.
I'd like to have her on a circular track, motorized, so that she'll very slowly turn in circles. I'm thinking I want her to hold something-- maybe disembodied hands. A friend suggested a lamb (but I don't know what this means to me). I want something scattered at her feet... maybe skeleton keys. Maybe one of them could fit old, big padlocks that lock her inside her cage? Or maybe that "other" her doll is cowering at her feet, reaching for her hand.... I dunno. Breasts bared or covered? Hair, no hair?

Now listen, I'm not making a statement on feminism. My work is about me, and I'm a girl. So deal with it. Just because I sew, just because it's the female body, just because she's wearing a cage-like dress--- Not about BEING a girl--it's about being THIS girl.

What I'm getting out if it so far is that it's about feeling trapped by my own shortcomings, which are just thoughts. Just gossamer. But they seem very tangible. And that's about it so far. 

Suggestions or comments are welcome, but if you mention bondage sex stuff (unless it's really thoughtful or insightful), I'm putting my fingers in my ears (or eyes, in this case). 

You can see more of my work at my website: 
You might see what I mean, my usual work is much more production oriented, a bit tighter-- constricted even?

Some food for thought... Mmm.... Kiki Smith:


  1. Acupuncture needles. What that came to mind, I don't know.


  2. i used to have some acu needles. let me know if you want them :-)
    enjoyed the read.

  3. Thanks, '73! And thanks for the suggestion, Banshee! I can totally see acupuncture needles. Hmmm... I'll have to think about that one. I'll keep you up to date on what happens with her.

  4. By the way, do I know you '73? I need to know who to ask for needles if I go that route! :-)