My art practice involves jewellery and small scale sculpture that is focused around the landscape of the body and its meanings. Since 2005 my work has centered on materials that were once attached to our bodies: human hair, teeth and fingernails.
These materials were at one time part of an intimate, elaborate maintenance ritual. Hair and teeth were brushed, treated with colours and bleaches; fingernails were grown for show, painted and emphasized. When attached to the body, they are central to social values of beauty yet when they become unattached, the meanings they hold drastically transform. I am interested in examining what occurs when the beautiful body becomes the shed/dead body. How are ideas about beauty destablised?
The responses to these pieces and materials is particularly fascinating. By taking the admired, decorated body out of its context (re-assigning and re-attaching these parts), questions are exposed about ownership, boundaries and beauty. When shed, how much do we feel that these parts are still someone else? On the level of ownership and boundaries, these materials speak of stories from other peoples lives. Each tooth or hair lock has it’s own history. I find that there’s almost a feeling of bonding when shed parts are mixed up, re-used, and re-appropriated.
When merging our own rituals with these pieces that have their own personal private histories, there’s a sense of commonality and human connectedness. I feel myself asking as I wear the tooth ring out to dinner; what was the last meal this tooth ate? Or as I get dressed in the morning and put on the plaited hair hoop earrings; what kind of hairstyle did these locks come from? New intimate relationships are created and body ownership deteriorates.