The sculptures and monotypes I created for this exhibition share two stories of human awareness. First, physical awareness, such as what we all feel via our skin when someone touches us gently. Second, is the bliss that we feel when our feet are grounded like roots in nature and we connect to the realm above.
I made these monotypes while working as a visiting artist at Mass MoCA. The figurative work invites the viewer to see the body as if it were nestled inside a garment or under a sheet, changeable and tucked inside something other than itself.
My mother, a Beauty Queen with dark curly hair and green eyes, resembled Elizabeth Taylor. She was 20 when I was born, and I was 3 or 4 when we were in that swimming pool stall together. I reached up to touch her still cool and wet belly as she pulled off her white bathing suit. How wonderful, I thought, to be a grown up and to be so beautiful.
These bathing suits are for our mothers.
The 1964 photos of the woman in a monokini, in Life Magazine created quite a shock. The timing was on target for Gernreich, the designer, who wanted to reduce the stigma of the naked body in order to “cure our society of its sex hang up.”
Each tablet in this standing mobile was made by pressing layered paper saturated with hardening agents against huge cannonballs, weapons that were fired from ships during the 1480 Ottoman invasion of Otranto, Italy.
More intimately, I have pressed my skin against the chests of uncles and father, grandfathers, lovers, and childhood friends. They held me against their bare chests in summer heat; so close the smell of their sweat stuck to my body. Those beautiful experiences are stored in memory as safe spots.
That's why I made this mobile. I look at it every day. It's hanging in my studio.
All of the men I honor in this mobile fought in wars-- World War I, n World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, Iraq. The men shared tenderness as they hugged me so that we could reinforce trust in humanity, and they could transcend the horrors of what they had seen.