Leah Grimaldi O’Ryan

Worms Under My Skin

CONcourse Gallery

On view August 28 – September 25


“I began working on “Worms Under My Skin” in January of 2014. I began by making forms that reference the body and anxieties, phobias and joys that surround it. Such anxieties could relate to age, weight, athletic ability, beauty or lack thereof, etc. The kinds of joys I think about when making my work relate to animal tendencies and even subversive feelings and behaviors.

The work is part of my continued exploration of “jouissance” as it is used by Julia Kristeva in The Powers of Horror: an Essay on Abjection. My understanding is that Kristeva sees “jouissance” as a delightful and horrifying effect of abjection. I experience seemingly contradictory feelings related to my body on a daily basis. I have historically crippling food anxiety, but I delight in how I feel when I eat. I hate that my body often dictates my actions because of how it feels, yet I love to feel like an impulsive animal in my body. I suspect that my experiences and not rare, but are, rather, culturally shared.

While exploring forms that speak to such a “jouissance”, I thought of a storefront space as ideal for exhibiting the work. Storefront spaces are public, and I’m grappling with culturally shared anxieties and joys having to do with being in a body. I also like that a storefront space is like a three-dimensional canvas, and my installations are more like immersive paintings or drawings than they are like sculptures.

I feel that now is an especially good time to acknowledge the body’s weaknesses as we as a culture confront obesity, eating disorders and the looming fear of cancer. Now is also a good time to delight in my body, with all of its weaknesses, because every time is good for that.

The work consists of small cut paper figures, drawn with black ink, and black fabric figures. Some paper figures are as small as one inch in their longest dimension, while others are twelve inches in their longest. Soft sculptures play with the cut paper figures. I arrange the figures, paper and fabric, in a way that speaks to the surroundings. I want the affect of my work to be uncomfortable and a little overwhelming.”

For more information visit https://sites.google.com/site/leahgrimaldi/home