Aligned Parallel, 2020
Ink Painting Installation
Aligned Parallel explores the experiences, both physical and not, that follow trauma, minor and major. The work examines the idea of fibroblasts, commonly known as scar tissue, in which cells connect in a parallel pattern instead of the waved criss-cross pattern of normal skin cells. In forming these scars over its wounds, the body produces something completely different than what was destroyed. There’s a further duality to these replacement tissues: While scars are seen as a sign of strength and overcoming difficulty, fibroblasts are actually weaker than skin. Further, if the skin is damaged enough, the cells that produce skin color, melanocytes, are destroyed, and the replacement fibroblasts do not produce skin pigments. I parallel these two trains of thought to how healing operates. On the one hand, trauma changes us, and not always for the better. Yet it also creates space for connection: similar experiences of overcoming, or just living through a difficult time, can unite people despite their other differences.
I had these thoughts in mind when creating the Aligned Parallel pieces, in which two distinct figures occupy opposite sides of the same material yet remain connected by gaps, made with the same piece of tape, that suggest scars. While these paired figures vary in shape, they exist in the same space (different sides of the same sheet) and share “scars,” evoking the feeling of recognition, and even shared understanding, that trauma can provide. We understand others because of their pain, the most universal experience, is in some way like our own.