Artist’s Statement: Icon

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The central theme of Icon, the print on the cover of this issue, concerns the anxious memory of being medically scanned in a hospital. I am most interested in the tension between reductive medical artifacts and the living, whole body they are meant to serve. I aim to mend this disconnect by portraying hospital gowns that have been embodied and personified by the uneasy recollections of their wearer.
My printmaking process begins by photographing standard hospital gowns that are twisted, falling, or crumpled—a gesture that points to the worry one feels while wearing the garment. I then combine the gown imagery with photographs of domestic spaces, such as Venetian blinds, to reflect how the memories intrude on the patient’s daily life. To produce the print, I developed a toner transfer technique that binds the photographic layers between many coatings of wax—resulting in a rich and intensely vibrant image. The hypersaturated colors of the final print emphasize the artifice of the medical object, while the organic curves of the hospital gown recall the realities of the ill body in its noticeable absence.
The elements of Icon read as a psychological snapshot of the patient’s anxious mind while she is being scanned, and how these memories weigh on everyday life.
We know this garment—either we have been in one ourselves or we have cared for a patient, family member, or friend when they wore it. It is a collective experience of vulnerability and unease, by the garment itself or, more important, the reason we are made to wear it.
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