Side-By-Each: Meg McCuen & Kimber Rodgers
Opening Reception: Friday, November 12th, 2021
On-view November 5th-30th
STATEMENT FROM CURATOR, KYLE BUTLER:
For years, Kimber Rodgers has been modifying manufactured dolls. Of the techniques she’s developed for this, some are straightforward: changing the color of the clothes by adding a layer of paint, making a belt and top from scrap fabric. Others are much more involved: installing new hair with yarn and glue, adding appendages with wire and pulp, installing the figures in a cropped landscape. The original identity of the manufactured doll is often changed entirely in order to become one character or another from Kimber’s universe of myth, fantasy, and comic characters. A Barbie becomes a satyr. A Bratz doll becomes the Venus de Milo. Another becomes a DIY Captain Marvel. Considering the consumer context the dolls come from, Kimber’s modifications sidestep the prescribed roll of the toys and instead use them as forms over which to map her own creative universe. The sum of all her techniques make for endearingly fresh takes on familiar fictional characters, and there is beauty in their ingenuity and in their world-building.
Meg McCuen’s work involves a semi-abstract riffing on various features and conditions of the skin. Ceramic surfaces are minutely textured in ways reminiscent of pores, scars, welts, blisters, bruises, rashes. Other features further allude to the body, with hair neatly falling out of openings and translucent wax coatings that push the ceramic toward flesh. There’s a mutual relationship between the source imagery and the material with which it’s made. There’s enough familiar ceramic beauty that the gnarly elements reminiscent of skin conditions don’t provoke revulsion. But it’s near enough to revulsion that the familiar ceramic elements don’t get too comfortable. That compromise between comfort and discomfort is supported by McCuen’s reflections on skin that inform the work: it is a fascinating and visibly reactive part of the body that understandably transforms depending on the conditions. But it is also a fundamental actor in the world of appearances, where those mechanical functions (and the zits, etc. that come with them) may provoke judgement or cause anxiety.
One connection between the work of Rodgers and McCuen is the reflection on what is needed from a body or from an identity. Kimber’s dolls become the characters she desires them to be and they depart wildly from their manufactured origins in the process. McCuen’s subdued body-horror points out a complex relationship we have with our bodies, but also suggests a willingness to look directly at discomfort, develop perspective, and come out the other side confidently.
MEG MCCUEN ARTIST STATEMENT:
Skin; flexible, continuous covering of the body that safeguards our internal organs from the external environment. Skin can communicate things such as our health and emotions. It adapts and changes quite rapidly to help keep the world out and you in. Skin is also a huge part of our identities. Our outward appearance is how others recognize us, how we stand apart. It is a shorthand message of how we view the world and how we wish to be viewed.
The methods that our skin uses to keep us safe and comfortable are not always very appealing though. Due to societal constructs, there is an 'ugly' side to the function of skin. We are made to feel as though the truly incredible methods our skin uses to adapt and heal are unappealing, grotesque, and unwanted. Things such as scabs, bruises, scars, blemishes, etc., take away from our carefully curated appearances and can be the catalyst for feelings of embarrassment and shame. My relationship with my skin has not always been very positive or empowering. This has affected the way I have viewed myself and, in turn, my interactions with the world.
This malleable, often flawed surface that encases us is what inspires these abstract works. I aim to showcase the intricate details and important functions of skin, and explore the affects that it has on our interactions and experiences.
KIMBER RODGERS ARTIST STATEMENT:
As a young girl, Kimber began rescuing animals on her own, healing them, and setting them free when well. Her love of fairy tales, mythological creatures, and animals are a continuous theme that runs throughout her work. Kimber has a determined and independent spirit that naturally feeds into her artwork. She often combines unusual mediums. Using fabric and clay, teen idols cut from magazines collaged onto fabric, and found objects she creates environments for her clay figures. When asked why she chooses her subject matter, she replies, “to get the happy ending that we all are still looking for.”