Second Skin. 2012. Archival Pigment Print. 20 x 29 inches.
My work is about exploring the geometry and landscape of the body by combining projections of abstract anatomy drawings with the human figure. I see the drawing as a second skin, or something that makes the person being photographed unique, but also semi-anonymous.
I developed the drawing technique as spontaneous sketchbook doodles, which bloomed into symmetrical abstractions. In order to meld the figures and the drawing, I observed diagrams in anatomy textbooks. Viewers may associate the drawing motifs with various parts of the body, including, but not limited to, the cells, veins, lungs, spinal column, and vulva. I know that the synergy of body and drawing is successful when the figure lines up with the drawing, leaving traces of both form and fantasy. Pattern plays in important role in developing the image. Is it camouflage, tattoo, stained glass, or paint? The drawing obscures part of the figure but also intersects with the body in crucial locations in order to see that it is, in fact, a human. Many of the details of the body are hard to see because the drawing covers them. Overall, the figures subsumed in the densely laden anatomical motif create a feeling of psychological disorientation.
My interest in the connection of the mind and body is inspired by my interdisciplinary work in gender studies and dance. For me, one of the most important insights from gender theory and movement exploration is that the body is a source of information that cannot always be communicated through language. The study of gender is an appropriate discipline to inform my work because the body determines the way one experiences the world in the depending on society’s reflections of gender and sexuality. This is important to me when I interact with my models because my goal is to make the photo shoot an empowering experience. Dance is also crucial because it is the study of the body as an instrument. Ballet and yoga inform the purposeful way I position the body to line up with the drawing. Modern techniques, like contact improvisation, helped me to relate to other people and my own body both structurally and emotionally. Every person that I photographed nude said that they felt comfortable and confident after the shoot. In the context of my experience, it is not surprising that there is a sense of bodily empowerment in my work.
The combination of the drawings, bodies, projection, and photograph begin with anatomy, embrace the abstract, and make a cohesive visual statement. Informed by the unique wisdom and geometry of the body, my photographs use light, color, and pattern to reveal the great expanse of the human form.
Special thanks to models: Rachel Black, Chelsea Borgman, Matt Davis, Genevieve Davison, Claire Dutton, Caitlin Fitzpatrick, Madeline Gobbo, Josh Henderson-Cox, Sarah Blair Jenkins, Jamal Jordan, Leslie Lasiter, Joe Lerangis, Robby Letzler, Elisa Pelgrift, Sarah Schulz, Marika West, and Matt Witmer.