Embodiment transcends physical form

by Brian Clarey

Works by Heea Crownfield use tea bags, paper pulp and wood to give an organic feel. Bottom right: One of Holly Fischer’s female nudes. (photos by Brian Clarey)

The human body is a physical form, easily identifiable and able to be classified according to its corporeal components. But the body is also the vessel for the soul, the home of character, a receptacle for fears and dreams and hopes. And it is a template upon which we overlay our own predispositions — sometimes the way we view another body says more about ourselves than the object of our gaze The open expanse at the foot of the Cultural Art Center today seems bereft of actual human form, save for a couple of harried staffers making preparations for tonight’s opening reception and a couple of students shooting footage inevitably destined for the World Wide Web.


“It’s the kind of art where you can step into it,” a woman says to the tiny camera. She’s talking about a cluster of knitted sacks of varying length and girth and degree of stuffed-ness — purples, greens, whites, pinks — suspended from the ceiling with string.

“I am interested in the sorting of images from the past,” says Mary Tuma’s artist’s statement, “images that are like shadows or ghosts.”

I’m more impressed with her “Internal Systems III,” set up in another chamber: a knitted rendering of the human internal organ system spanning 30 yards or so.

Embodiment, the current exhibit here at the Green Hill Center, plays with the idea of the human form — its genesis, its limitations, its components, its iconic power.


On the floor at the center of the space rests Cort Savage’s “Scattered Man”: 214 big, black balls, most of which are bones from a human skeleton wrapped in black bands until their true shapes are obscured.

His other piece, “The Particle,” consists of a set of X-rays of a human skull biting down on a copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Infl uence People.

“One sculpture grasps firmly while the other lets go,” Savage writes. “Together they constitute the choice we face on a daily basis.”

Nikki Blair’s floor chairs come in male and female varieties.

Heea Crownfield uses tea bags, synthetic hair, wood and paper pulp to achieve her ends. Holly Fischer’s female nudes recline about the space, renditions in white clay, undeniably female, almost aquatic in form, sexually evocative yet completely generic.

Nine artists in all fill the big room at the CAC with sculpture, photography, jewelry and even clothing.

Kate Kretz has stationed examples of her “Psychological Clothing” line near the glass by the door.

“I wanted to use the language of fashion, to borrow a language that is usually used for covering things up, and use it to reveal the psychological states rather than camouflage them.”

The “Physical Memory/Last Goodbye Dress” is a simple shift with the imprint of a lover indelibly stained across the front. The “Passive/Represses Anger Dress” looks like a white Victorian frock, but a tangled dark mass in the gut signals that all is not well.

The Green Hill women shuttle wine, ice, cups and such from the gallery’s storage space, set everything up on catering tables, make last-minute adjustments to the exhibits, the lighting.

Dozens of actual humans will fill the space tonight, sipping drinks and eating cubed cheese, gesturing subtly to one piece of artwork or another, encompassing an infinitude of internal universes all in this one room.


wanna go? Embodiment

Nine artists (Nikki Blair, Heea Crownfield, Carolyn DeMerritt, Holly Fischer, Ellen Giamportune, Kate Kretz, Cort Savage, Mary Tuma, Margaret Yauke) investigate the body as a site of transformative identity and mediation. Through March 26 Green Hill Center for NC Art 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro 336.333.7460