Leah Brottman MFA Applied Craft + Design Practicum 2014
Her Other Existence
Her Other Existence explores visual representations of women in the midst of visions, hysteria, and mental disorder. The project juxtaposes imagery from Renaissance paintings of female saints and mystics, drawings of hysteric women at the Salpêtrière Hospital in late nineteenth-century Paris, and images of the artist imitating these women’s gestures and poses. The various perceptions of these individuals are shaped by the cultures in which each lives, nevertheless, there are representational and inherent connections among them. The artist’s inclusion implies a personal relationship with the figures, but is also a stand-in for contemporary beliefs about psychology, diagnoses, and mental health. The use of embroidery in Her Other Existence is in dialogue with the craft’s relationship to changing constructions of femininity. The figures are machine embroidered on long panels of transparent silk organza that suspend from the ceiling. As the viewer makes their way through the installation, the life sized figures become transposed with other viewers bodies, as well as their own.