live performance at Corner Office Gallery, Richmond VA
I am interested in ideas of absorption, accommodation, plasticity and adaptability. I use materials that exhibit these characteristics, like sponges and water balloons, to explore phenomena of accommodation and absorption in the socialization of women in particular. Largely autobiographical, this work is influenced by some of my experiences growing up and by my professional experience as a clergywoman. The tension between empathetic consideration of others and dissolution of self is at the heart of these explorations. Patterns of socialization, cultural expectations, and gender norms create a cycle of systemic, and often silent or unrecognized, disempowerment. By placing myself into the work and engaging in the subversive, but quiet, destructive act of popping water balloons, I invite viewers and myself to question and break down some of these cycles.
Household objects like kitchen sponges, a laundry rack, clothespins, and a sewing needle represent roles and tasks historically performed by women. These objects are subverted as they become tools of disobedience. Sponges meant for cleaning are instead arranged publicly in a dirty parking lot. As they absorb water from popped water balloons, my body weight displaces that water. An instrument meant to dry clothes becomes the means by which my clothes become wet. Curlers are rendered useless as they get wet. My actions become unproductive, and thus disobedient. As viewers become participants, the performance takes on the form of a call-and-response encounter. Participants slowly begin to understand my actions in response to their statements. Though I engage in disobedient and destructive acts as water balloons are popped, I continue to remain obedient to the cues of viewers, following my own “unwritten rule” and creating a sense of circular futility.