portfolio > dust/return: MFA thesis

an embrace
foam, gesso, cardboard, paintsticks, plaster, paper pulp, found fabric, drawing, hand-dyed string, studio residue, chicken wire, house paint, caulk, found paper
those rags that lived and seemed to breathe
found paper, latex, clothespins, leftover gesso, wire, silicone rubber, gloss medium, found fabric, hot glue, plaster shards
lives, writhes, heaves
wire, plaster, steel, bricks, house paint
in a handful of dust
dust, hair, cement, silicone, gloss medium, plaster, hand-shredded paper pulp, wax, resin, handmade pillow
i grow backward
newspaper, found elastic, plaster, gesso
back in the pulse
foam, plaster, wire, leftover fabric, house paint
a cut-paper shadow
plaster, paper pulp, adhesive, gesso, wire, foam, house paint
weeping about your skin
found paper, charcoal, glue, enamel, clothespin
in your sleep you just slid it off
found fabric, latex, steel, clothespins
to hold us by most subtle ties
plaster, clothespin, string, latex, gloss medium

“That’s what they mean by the womb of time: the agony and the despair of spreading bones, the hard girdle in which lie the outraged entrails of events.”
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

As I reckon with my own corporeality and the interconnected (though deeply complicated and variable) nature of our march to death, my work aspires to resonate in the body and mind of the viewer. I cannot claim to understand all of humanity, nor the vastness of suffering and decline. I can, though, try to understand my own reality and attempt to choose tenderness, in its many forms, regardless of its futility and absurdity.

In dust/return, I consider the vestigial structure: "(of an organ or part of a body) degenerate, rudimentary, or atrophied, having become functionless.” Tenderness and repair cannot ward off death. However, like the (literally vestigial) appendix, these things remain, despite their uselessness. Certain pieces refer to states of being, such as slumped, broken, fragile, or misshapen. In these pieces, I explore (futile, vestigial, useless) repair — wrapping, propping up, bracing, augmenting.

Residue, remnants, and traces become important. As the body heads toward death, it leaves pieces of me behind. To these ends, the work also embraces disgust and decay. To embrace residue is to accept the body even as it declines — to acknowledge the body’s powerful autonomy, its simultaneous regeneration and degeneration. In some ways, I think I have always done this. I compulsively bite my fingernails, eating what should be thrown away. What was once-me becomes re-absorbed into me. I have always been intrigued with the clump of hair in the drain, I have always peeled off scabs too early. Reabsorbing leftover studio materials is a way of integrating everything, even the smallest and most disregarded fragments (vestigial also means “a very small remnant of something that was once much larger or noticeable”). These are preserved and re-used in a pointless act of repair, futile labors of love. I imagine this labor to be part of repair and part of tenderness, a dedication to understanding the body and death.