My fingertips reveal a constellation of scars from testing my blood sugar. High, low, normal, just a tiny little prick and a tiny drop of blood is a life saving measure. I find myself addicted to the ritual, and wish that my state of being could be so easily be measured in one number.
The photos mimic the ritual, transforming an act that's rarely seen into one that must be seen. As I sew finger to finger, the work becomes an amusement, like a game of cat's cradle. What was once, for me, one of the many drudgeries we diabetics carry like a noose around our necks shifts into an act of control: a reclamation of my body.
An installation accompanies the photos and shifts slightly each time it is displayed. Flowers photocopied from a magazine found at my grandmother's house, old wallpaper, thread and medical journals are meticulously cut, collaged and pinned to resemble imagined machinations of the body. Flowers sprout from arteries, brain matter dissolves into damask and glands become roots; the body is splayed for all to see but also abstracted as I choose how your see it. Again, it's a reckoning with an uncontrollable form, this body that I've been given.
My Shimmering Private Sideshow
Body & Blood
Self Portrait I
This body of work is focused on the concepts of femininity, loss, longing and family illness. I use found and family ephemera, mundane objects and my own body to document and explore the traces left on me by women in my family, both real and imagined. In this work, I’ve developed a taxonomy of symbols: kidneys, gloves, wallpaper, arms, needle and thread, syringes and garden flowers are repeated throughout to tell a story.
I am particularly interested in showing the marks and scars of auto-immune diseases, which often hide in plain site. Auto-immune diseases are unpredictable and those of us with these diseases feel like our bodies are battlegrounds.
This work is a reclamation of my body, a posted flag that's both surrender of control and declaration of hope.
Self Portrait II
This body of work is focused on the concepts of femininity, loss, longing and family illness. I use found and family ephemera, mundane objects and my own body to document and explore the traces left on me by women in my family, both real and imagined. My maternal and paternal grandmothers, both proper New England women of their time dressed in equally proper attire: sweater sets, white gloves, pink lipstick, pearls. Their hyper-feminine poise fascinated me as a child, and I spent hours pouring over their scarves, brooches and make-up drawers. Both staunch Irish Yankees, they were not doting grandmothers. There was never a hair out of place; I never saw them cry, curse, sweat or get angry. They both died in the same calendar year and both sides of the family became unmoored with their loss, adrift without their matriarchs. This work is a study of what Jane and Eileen left behind and what they couldn’t speak of in their lifetime.
My own body is a map of their legacy.
The patterns and motifs of vintage wallpaper instantly tell a story, of place, history and class. What is left when the pattern is taken away?
What was once a repeat pattern, frozen in its place of history, has now taken on a life of its own, the motifs within the paper revolting against their place in the print. These skeletal structures are like a body, with its skin peeled. They reveal something new, the forms they take, the shadows they cast are unpredictable and random, unable to be tamed. It is in this vacancy that new stories can be woven and the wallpaper that once suffocated us with the burden of history is no longer.
Points of Interest
Quilts have long been a medium for story-telling. I like to imagine that, in tapping into this tradition, I am adding my particular experience to the collective voice of quilt-making. While lots of traditional quilt patterns reference the pastoral, these quilts hint at the crowded, mish-mash of city living. I think of them as a map of my world both inside and out and make them in a completely improvisational manner. The quilts are stitched together with a mix of machine and hand. This dichotomy of instant gratification and delayed gratification is a crucial part of my making process.