profile on my studio practice May 2012
photo David Kimelman
interview excerpt Kate Bolick
You frequently use “models”—as in, real live humans. Sometimes you cover them in clay (which could almost be a reversal of the creation myths you referenced!). Other times you put them in costumes. Could you talk about the roles of people in your work?
The process of sitting for one of these photos is very uncomfortable. I only ask friends, and they are all so unbelievably generous and kind to let me slather them with clay, as you mentioned, and render them blind and mute for a couple of hours, all while remaining very still.
Human bodies integrated with sculptural elements create a literal translation of nature personified. Specifically, I’m obsessed with images of body parts emerging from water, fire, earth, and so on. Even when a photograph features an unidentified hand, it’s a hand of a friend, and in a way, I consider it to be a portrait. There are so many talented and creative women in my life, and I like to think that I’m slowly casting them all, one by one, as muses in my imaginary, alternate universe.