Soft Objects for Hard Times A Pandemic Shift of Practice
Leading up to the pandemic, I was fully immersed in creating interactive works around our need for human touch. My live performance work involved guiding participants through actions and motivations. I used video to record micro expressions in both partnered and solo touch pieces. I had just received a grant to produce a year’s worth of videos with participation and surveys.
Then everything changed.
Over the first years of the pandemic there were lots of articles in paper around our need for touch and the epidemic of loneliness that was creeping behind the social distancing. It seemed as if what I had been working on was becoming part of the national and international dialogue. I received the Social Art Award from the Institute for Art and Innovation in Berlin for my Consent, Intent, and Boundaries performance series. But it was getting harder and harder to continue the work, not just from a practical standpoint but a personal one.
The pandemic gave me time to think, to be alone in my own skin, to attend my own interior self. And that self enjoyed the calm and the quiet. There was (joy) in only sharing touch with those I feel truly connected to. In a way, I became more embodied than I had ever been.
The mission of the work stayed important as ever. So with a lot of thought, a push from my inner circle, and some serendipity, I found a way to continue my work through replacing my body with textiles. Through soft sculpted bodies and quilts, I create objects of touch and comfort that celebrate the human form and our need to interact with it. These works allow for deeper truths to be found and empower the participant to find their own embodiment through the interaction.
For now, these works are stand ins for my body to the greater world until we share a touch again.