Restoring and Redefining the Body

The 2021 virtual Student Juried Art Show considers how we undergo restoration after mental and physical hardship, and how these experiences can help us redefine our perceptions of the body and mind. How are we connected through our physical experiences? How do these experiences, individual and universal, shape our conceptions of the body, ourselves, and the world? The show’s theme expands on the ideas in the Spencer Museum’s exhibition Healing, Knowing, Seeing the Body
 
Students at the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University were invited to submit works of art that explore the theme Restoring and Redefining the Body. The works featured in this show were selected by a committee of students on the Spencer Student Advisory Board with input from Curator Cassandra Mesick Braun.


Debbie Barrett-Jones

Control and Happenstance, I, 2020
weaving, dye, acrylic paint
T2021.080


As a weaver, sitting at the loom, my whole body is a part of a meditative process during the start of the transformation of the woven cloth, going through order, disorder, and reorder. While deconstructing, I cannot help but think of my own fears, anxieties, pain, loss, and grief. As my fingers touch each thread, I am pulling and acknowledging specific memories and feelings, this act is one of letting go which leads to acceptance, healing, joy, and love. Later as I apply dye or paint in gratitude for the whole process of restoring and redefining my body and mind.


Kirsten Taylor

I walked in leaves over 7 days, 2021
performance, leaves, yard waste
EL2021.009


In my studio practice, I explore my developing relationship with the landscape. I begin by walking outside, taking the time to see around me and focusing on the more-than-human world. I meditate on the visual manifestations of my relationship with the landscape, such as trails. Trails represent a relationship based on time formed by the repeated action of foot meeting ground. During the pandemic, many of us have returned to nature seeking connection because we were unable to see and connect with others of our own species. Despite our isolation, we share the experience of returning to nature for solace.


Kirsten Taylor

Walking the burn, 2021
performance, archival paper, naturally occurring carbon, mud
EL2021.008


In my studio practice, I explore my developing relationship with the landscape. I begin by walking outside, taking the time to see around me and focusing on the more-than-human world. I meditate on the visual manifestations of my relationship with the landscape, such as trails. Trails represent a relationship based on time formed by the repeated action of foot meeting ground. During the pandemic, many of us have returned to nature seeking connection because we were unable to see and connect with others of our own species. Despite our isolation, we share the experience of returning to nature for solace.


Nicole Rene Woodard

Hesitant, 2020
ceramic, plaster, underglaze, pencil
EL2021.001


I am inspired by questions that don't have clear answers. My search for self has been my most challenging inquiry. Being raised between two military career households presented both flux and constancy throughout my childhood. My practice explores the vulnerabilities that I have emerged from, without embellishment or apology. The dark side of my personal truth is unsettling, awkward, difficult to look at. Through drawing and sculpture, I make human representations that reveal human resilience. Juxtaposing different materials represents how human experience is not singular; rather, it is a spectrum of varying modes of being, perspectives, identities, and memories.


Rachel Trusty

Oversized Load, 2021
metal three ball truck hitch, custom fabric G-string
EL2021.012


Inspired by books like The Un-Natural State, Instagram accounts such as @truckslutsmag and @queerappalachia, and my own Southern upbringing, this series seeks to convey the richness of southern and rural LGBT+ identities through the reference of multiple and sometimes conflicting visual references. This piece utilizes a metallic three-ball truck hitch as a reference to southern masculinity and the use of the truck as a symbol of virility. The hitch is adorned with a custom-sewn patriotic G-string to emphasize the phallic nature of the object. The American flag has been embellished with rhinestones and reappropriated for queer purposes.


Rachel Trusty

Brian's Cousin (After Mapplethorpe), 2021
aluminum chair frame, cotton tank top, beads, leather, mesh, metal tacks
EL2021.011


Inspired by books like The Un-Natural State, Instagram accounts such as @truckslutsmag and @queerappalachia, and my own Southern upbringing, this series seeks to convey the richness of southern and rural LGBT+ identities through the reference of multiple and sometimes conflicting visual references. Brian’s Cousin (After Mapplethorpe) references the photograph of Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter (1979), a gay couple in BDSM attire. Through the anthropomorphization of an aluminum chair frame through the addition of the beaded tank top and the reference to a “cousin” in the title, this piece places BDSM culture into the rural and working class.


Rachel Trusty

Uncle Wayne, 2021
Quikrete, human hair, rubber band
EL2021.010


Inspired by books like The Un-Natural State, Instagram accounts such as @truckslutsmag and @queerappalachia, and my own Southern upbringing, this series seeks to convey the richness of southern and rural LGBT+ identities through the reference of multiple and sometimes conflicting visual references. Uncle Wayne utilizes a cast Quikrete cube to discuss the working class in the context of Minimalism. Embedded in the material is a human-hair rat tail. The bodily element acts as a queering force to disrupt the traditional sterile form of the Minimalist cube.


Robert Hicks

Power and Place, 2021
photograph
EL2021.004


Restoring the Body, By Reclamation: A 2019 study by Williams College found that 85.4% of the art in the collections of 18 major U.S. museums was created by white artists, and 87.4% by men. In contrast, just 1.2% of the works were by African American artists, 9% by Asian artists, and 2.8% by Hispanic and Latino artists. We need to hold sexist and racist institutions accountable and call them out.

The model in this photograph is Brennah Wahweotten, Prairie Band Potawatomi. The location is Prairie Peoples Park.


Shannon Maltbie-Davis

Flaws, 2021
photograph
EL2021.002


Body dysmorphia is a mental health disorder that causes a person to obsess about one or more perceived defects or flaws in their appearance. 

We all have areas of our bodies that we are unhappy with. If given the opportunity, the perception of these flaws can control our thoughts and behaviors. However, with time and considerable effort, we can each learn to accept and eventually love our flaws. It is our differences that make each of us unique, interesting, and beautiful.


Sophia Reed

Pieces, 2021
airbrushing, colored pencil, paper
EL2021.007


In order to "Restore and Redefine the Body,” we must dismantle all notions of harmful ideals. Parts of this body, inspired by images of Hercules and Zeus in museum collections, are now only pieces of its former self. Grass grows, the sun shines, and butterflies take flight in what feels like the potential for growth at the deconstruction of these former myths of ideals.


Sophia Reed

Muscle Man, 2020
oil, airbrushing, panel
EL2021.006


How can we change limiting narratives of the past that impact our present? How do these subliminal messages of what a body should be challenge our potential difference? This "Muscle Man" is torn apart limb by limb, only to be rearranged to tell a story of the impact of violence and masculinity on our daily lives. He is crushed by the revolving sword, a cycle of destruction that traps him. Only at his exhaustion does his arm exit the spiraling plane, a small glimpse of hope toward something different.


Sophia Reed

Pained, 2020
stoneware, glazing
EL2021.005


What impact does time have on a body? This ceramic vessel is an embodiment of time. Vessels have been created across the globe by many different people for varying purposes, the objects often outliving their makers. What would it be like to live through that time? These vessels take on a bodily form, witnessing history unfold, their bodies reeling from its weight.