m o t h e r - s k i n
mother-skin is my undergraduate BFA Thesis exploring the construction of female identity in relationship to the complex semiotics of the mother-daughter relationship. Mother-skin, the book, is the written narrative of a multi-media installation that imagines maternal rituals as liminal space.
Documentation of the process of collecting my hair for two years, combining it with my mother's hair, and then felting them together in a standing vessel.
"Allowing the final felted object to hold meaning in place of the body enables both the mother and the daughter to cross back over the limen out of the soupy, familial contents of the unconscious, and into the material world as discrete identities. In this way, the vessel is agentive, of the body but independent from the body, forever holding space and performing the syntax of the mother-daughter condition of being separate but together: the hair holds so that we may let go." excerpt from essay published on Adobe Airstream
In a critical analysis of my thesis, I decipher Mother-Skin as a study of the three stages of ritual experience in sacred rite as outlined by 20th-century anthropologist Arnold van Gennep: preliminal, liminal, post-liminal. I discuss the specific maternal rituals in my own mother-line that relate to hair, and discuss Mother-Skin in relation to the work of Mary Kelley and Faith Wielding, arguing that they, too, deal in ideas of threshold.
"Mother-skin examines the construction of female identity in relationship to the mother through rituals like brushing, saving, and bathing. By engaging with inherited ceremonies of the mother-daughter-grandmother triad, mother-skin is a matrilineal social practice that considers how these maternal systems form identity and can be deconstructed as a means of individuation."