The body of work in The Genetic Viability of Finn and Joni palpates and questions a woman’s desire to have a child. The work is hopeful; a soft ear, pudgy hand, and nursery rhyme animals fill the drawings and sculptures. But it is also a farewell and letting go; the reality of the challenge and choice to become a mother for many women.
Animals show up as surrogates throughout our visual and narrative history. The hybrids that fill my own work use this tie to animal nature as gateway to freedom. In the same way that Aesop’s Fox and Crow help us educate and explore morality, my own work uses animals to talk about shared human experience in a way that is ripe and ambiguous. Here, motherhood and loss are enacted by animal counterparts.
When a child is lost in the early stages of pregnancy, it is often described as being a genetically unviable pregnancy. Many of the characters that show up in this body of work are celebrations of these tiny potentials, the decisions, chances and losses that women bear. The ghost-like drawings in this body of work represent a quiet, floating space for these beings to blink in and out of existence. They’re genetic mutations strange and sad, but ultimately beautiful. Here the hybrid creatures question the idea of a singular definition of normality and of what constitutes a full and happy life.
The gesture of a parent putting her or his nose to the top of her baby’s head is a universal, mammalian, act of bonding. Animals clean and nuzzle their young in much the same way we humans press our lips to babies’ warm cheeks, or nibble chubby fingers. It is a biological intimacy I explore in my sculptural works. The delicate wax somewhere between flesh and frosting, is an invitation to smell and bring close. The strangeness of the creature and vulnerability of the material serves as a reminder of the mysterious and harrowing journey towards becoming a parent.
The exhibit will be on display from November 5 through November 27, 2016.