butterfly/suture

Installation

Material:
Vintage magazines, books and catalogs collaged on cartons and wire coat hangers.

“The butterfly suture technique is a buried technique designed for wounds under moderate to marked tension. It is best utilized on the trunk and shoulders, where the combination of a thick dermis and the need for marked tension relief make it an occasionally useful approach.”
I came of age into a cavalcade of images. In magazines, books, advertising we all bathed in the post-war fantasy of happiness lived on a colorful, easy-to-clean surface. All that was convenient and beautiful could be bought in easy payments.
And most particularly, as a woman I was in dialogue with what it meant to be female, as prescribed by all these pretty pictures. Somehow it was possible--the images promised--to be beautiful, efficient, clean, sexy, sweet—powerful and compliant.
All at once.

As a semiotics major at Brown University, I began to create collages out images from popular culture. And I learned about the theory in film of ‘suture’-- “our normal experience of films” gives viewers “certain strategies for comprehending a shot chain, not only in virtue of familiarity with films, but also perhaps even more importantly, on the basis of knowledge of a broader culture that employs narrative, simile and metaphor in ways that can be mimed in editing” “Suture” is the means by which the psyche makes sense out of the nonsense of filmic language. The viewer stiches together a unified whole out of the discontinuous snippets of film. According to theory, suture heals a psychic wound allowing the subject to construct an identity, a coherence, out of brokenness.

Collage provides another way for the viewer to experience a similar process. Shredded images give us only glimpses of the whole forcing us to construct the narrative that we already know. Unlike many collage artists who take images as wholes and juxtapose them with other images, I fragment the representations even further until they are scraps of color and pattern. Literally sewing them together, I try to create the feeling of one assaulted by the barrage of popular culture.

This piece is composed a hundred cartons and wire coat hangers collaged with images from magazines, newspapers and catalogs from the 20th century--primarily magazines from the post-war era where femininity inhabits the pages with its exhortations to be glamourous, diligent, thrifty, maternal and clean-- or as in the multitude of ‘photography’ and pin up magazines—cavorting naked on a beach. The themes that emerge relate primarily to the role of women in post-war America, drawing primarily on materials directed at women. The images that invite the ideal woman to construct her own identity from the menu of choices. Granted, a limited menu!
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Butterfly/Suture is an installation created throughout the 2018 through early 2019. This work arises out of much of my earlier work but is the largest and most ambitious collage work I have undertaken. With more than 200 separate elements –each one containing its own narrative—Butterfly/Suture seeks to immerse the viewer in a whole composed of thousands of scraps.

Butterfly_Suture