By the Light of the Body

Breathing Ground detail

Big Red & Shiny, the Boston online publication about contemporary art and culture, commissioned and published an article I wrote about the twenty-plus years I’ve been researching touch, the body and the senses through my sculptural work and audience response. The link to the whole article:

And to give you a taste of the content, here’s an excerpt from the first page:

“A hidden factor is present when an artist makes a work of art. That same factor is present when a person looks at art. This factor is plainly visible and easily palpable, but remains largely unconscious and unacknowledged, and that is the body—the artist’s body, my body, your body, our bodies.

I arrived at that observation after many years of working as an artist in two dimensions—first painting and then hand paper-making. Then in 1991, I made an artist’s book. This new form expanded my work into the third dimension, and at the same time into the tactile dimension. I was struck by the way a book has to be opened and handled to be known. So I made two book-like sculptures that could be turned over or opened, inviting people to engage the artwork with their hands.

At the same time I became interested in the experience of blindness. An artist friend gave a talk about her work, and afterward a man who was visually impaired said he wished she had described the images she had shown. I was amazed that someone who could not see would even be interested in art, and began wondering how people with little or no sight might experience works of art, which are considered the exclusive province of visual perception. Thinking about my book-sculptures, which could be handled and touched, I began to wonder if touch could convey the meaning of an artwork. Could touching be a way of knowing? That question, and the questions that followed, have informed my work ever since.”