Lil Monster: A Chronic Pain Visualization
This sculpture came from an E-Book called Recipes for Conceptual Clay. I chose the assignment Gaining Visibility, where one is supposed to create a visual representation of any invisible process. I decided to create a visual representation of my chronic pain. After deciding this, I realized that I never made the actual pain itself in clay. I had only created figures in pain or dealing with pain, like myself. I felt like this was a small breakthrough that could lead to something to add in my figurative work. I’ve been adding decorative elements on the surface to represent tissue cells and other microscopic organisms that occur inside the body. The sculpture also features “imbedded” spikes that seem to break through these cells. I eventually hope to make the viewer uncomfortable and unsettled by these sculptures as I do with my own pain.
In its most specific sense, "totem" refers to to an emblematic depiction of something (such as an animal, plant, or supernatural being) gives a family or tribe its name and that often serves as a reminder of its ancestry. The term is also used broadly for any thing or person having particular emblematic or symbolic importance.
This art piece focuses on the specifics of my illness: my hypermobile body. It is the key quality that doctors and medical professionals judge, quantify, and prove my diagnosis. In this artwork, I have used my hypermobile limbs to create a clay mold as a stand-alone object that “proves” my disability. These fired clay pieces remove the invisible aspects of my illness and provide a tangible object that will stay around for thousands of years. The permanence of clay and the totems that came out of this piece actively opposes the modern ideas that disabled lives can be “fixed” through eugenic technology. I am here to say that disabled lives are valuable, futuristic, and an important part of the culture at large.
Alt Text: Slide show flipping through photos. These photos show three different blocks of clay that Carly, the artist, pressed her own hypermobile limbs. She presses her knee, elbow, and bent hand into different blocks to capture the mold of her bendy body.