Growing my Own Art: Thin as Our Skin

Thin as Our Skin; Liminal Intelligence I work in an auto-ethnographic manner. The experience of being in the world fully and authentically requires abandoning our separateness from Nature. fully. In the summer of 2018, I began to experiment with new materials from solutions of sugar water. Using new materials presented many complex issues, so I had many months of learning with few successful results. I wondered if the botany book of my maternal grandfather, “A Laboratory Manual for First Course in Botany,” would have some possible ideas. The first picture in the book is of a forest, captioned “It is an excellent place for study by outdoor classes.” As I read the book for the first time as an adult, I found right off a bit about sugar solutions which were activated by yeast in the air. I had been experimenting with new materials so that I would not use toxic materials, plastic derivatives, or trees. The pressing issue of climate change disturbed me. For the next three years I experimented continuously with sugar solutions. I tried many variations of the mixtures. This work with’ skins’, my new vegan leather, has much resonance for me. First, the softness of these skins reminds me of a newborn baby. Wet, soft skin is essentially the “en caul sac” holding the amniotic fluid. These biological bacteria grow by attaching to each other creating a swirling tissue sheath through my fingers. The fascination at the wonder of a liminal process was mesmerizing. I can grow new skin everyday in my studio, but what is it? Why does the skin remind every day of new life, new chances, new hopes? Perhaps, it is the saline memory we have of our watery origins? How we are connected to the earth through water in vitro; we are at home in water. The skins swaddles me mentally. Membranes are so very thin, have the ability to grow together when pressed with finger tips, and hold onto almost any surface . It is bacteria with properties of bonding 3-demI. So the feeling of working with a medium which is alive are complex. The great good fortune I have intuitively found through my Grandfather’s experiments is growing. My own complex reaction to my skin work is just beginning to be articulated. What are they, what do they mean to me, why do I create them, and how did I create them. The accumulation of many of them, all different, allows them to be seen as much of my works are: found objects with the challenging references: to life, not life, our own bodies and ,of course, life and death. They possess a mystery of creation, an essence of life which has incited my work. A friend said, “This are not silent like a photograph is or a drawing is. The visceral response to them is like my skins fragility is real.” This tension between my “Skins” & skin is real because of the vulnerability I know. This evokes a response to wrestle with the mental awareness of their own vulnerability. This work is an extension of our biological experience. Therefore they create an extension of my experience and connection to others.