Our bodies are covered in skin. We see it everyday. We feel it, scratch it, peel it, pop it, wash it, and pinch it. We may think about our bodies everyday, but how often do any of us take time to really think about what our skin is, or what it does? What if you could somehow remove yourself from your skin; somehow externalize the external? Would you be embarrassed, surprised, or frightened? Or would you go a step further, doing what several artists have done, and put that skin on display for all to see?
Skin Show, a collaborative, three-person art show currently on display in the Helene Constance Gallery presents you with representations of skin and its structure that will cause you to stop and reconsider just what it is exactly that your body is covered in.
The three pieces exhibited in the show are: “Entangled”, a mixed media piece by Graceland University professor Julia Franklin, “Slip of the Lips”, a sculpture made from industrial materials accompanied by a video instillation from fellow professor Tiffany Sinnott, and “Sack”, a fabric instillation from Des Moines artist Rachel Buse.
“Entangled” immediately presents you with something unexpected. Where we would normally think of skin as a smooth, continuous structure, we are instead shown these strands that bulge, pinch, fold, twist and knot together.
“Slip of the Lips” provides a sort of soundtrack to the entire experience. The sound of the video, along with the imposing size of its projected image, follows you as you make your way around the gallery, constantly reminding you of its presence.
The aptly named “Sack” is an interactive sculpture that changes as you turn its crank. Lower the sack towards the ground and the fabric folds over itself in a mass of bulges and wrinkles. Raise it towards the ceiling and the sack stretches out, revealing drooping appendages and openings that may not have been visible before.
Individually, the pieces all have their unique aspects and garner interest in different ways, but when experienced in context with each other as a cohesive exhibit, new layers of meaning begin to emerge. Upon first entering the gallery it can all seem quite unnerving. From the dangling, bulbous strands of “Entangled”, to the constant slurping, smacking, and sucking of “Slip of the Lips”, you are immediately presented with these unfamiliar, yet seemingly personal constructions. Initially, it might seem like a strange choice to bring these pieces together, but after spending some time in the gallery and experiencing the show in context with its overarching theme, one can really begin to see how the pieces work together to create a cohesive experience that is truly unique.
Skin Show will be on display in the Helene Center Constance Gallery until Friday, February 20.