As a queer and feminist artist, I explore the body as a symbol for society as it relates to memory, pain and healing. My work blurs the lines between documentation, community engagement, and abstract healing practices. Using photography, drawing and my own personal history as a way to connect with other people, I engage stories of trauma and power imbalances to offer a place of healing. I use the line of drawing as a point of connection and storytelling-- drawing on skin, photographs and during performances to create a new language of releasing invisible scars and bondages.
I am a multimedia, interdisciplinary photographer. Before graduate school, my photographs were documentary portraits of communities: queer youth and couples, mothers and women over fifty living with HIV, among others. During graduate school, I began to investigate the intersections of photographs with my writing, performance and drawings. I weave other media onto and through photography to disrupt the seamless continuity of photographic illusion and the stability of dominant visual culture, which is stereotypical at best and repressive at worst.
My MFA thesis The Time it Takes investigated individual healing processes that address physical and emotional trauma. To establish a discussion between personal (micro) and societal (macro) pain, I drew on the surface of people's skin, including my own. I asked my subjects what kind of image would heal a certain part of their body. Video-recorded conversations revealed symbols and back stories, and after the source of the wounds emerge, I began to draw. Some of the issues that came up in the conversations were sexual violence, PTSD in soldiers and veterans, the effects of global migration, HIV/AIDS, shame, and homophobia. At the end of each session, I made a formal large-format portrait of my subject, which serves as a record of our exchange and honors the subjects courage and willingness to make their internal process visible. The marks on the body were included in the formal portraits to simulate the invisible scars we carry with us in our daily lives. Ishika, 2011 was included at the Accola Griefen Gallery in Chelsea in the Visual Feast: A Pattern and Decoration Exhibition in the summer of 2012.
As She Lay, Dying is a series of photographs that were taken in spaces of personal trauma. The drawings layer the residue of memory over seemingly benign spaces of domesticity. In my performance videos, I draw on myself and on dancers as a symbolic gesture in order to release the invisible effects of repressed wounds. In these newer works, I investigate my own history with the same scrutiny I once turned outward to display my own vulnerability and desire for healing.
I represent pain with or on the body as an allegorical site for the effects of a macro-level societal pain: repression, torture, and discrimination. Individual victimization exists in the context of unequal relationships, leaving the victims to resolve personal trauma as if they had produced it. Picturing these stories in the public sphere threatens the status quo, which maintains economic productivity and rationality at the cost of emotional and physical wellness. Every individual who recognizes his or her position in the political macrocosm can be empowered to replace the effects of negation with healing and strength. I use my art to engender that process.