Emma Flaire

Space to Hold

Class of: 2024

Major: Integrated Design BFA

Medium: Sculpture; plaster, steel, acrylic, muslin fabric

Faculty: Carolyn Salas

Prompt: Explore the medium of plaster through body casting, alginate, plaster, and mold making. Then combine/recombine cast parts to create a piece.

As a queer artist, my relationship to my body has evolved throughout my life both internally and externally, looking at how my body either fits or challenges societal perceptions of who I should be. Living in a femme body and holding space for both the beauty of that experience as well as the pain that comes from western culture’s limited views of the gender binary grows to be a striking dichotomy. Gender and sex are completely different. Recognizing this, I wanted to explore how altering my anatomy could serve as a symbol and help convey an internal landscape and exploration of my personal understanding of my gender, in a way audiences could easily understand. I am also a dual citizen between America and France, and for many years the museums and classical sculptures impressed upon me ideas of quality, worth and representation. As I got older, I learned that while I could appreciate the work, I began to question which stories were left out and what was lost when prioritizing western colonialist ideals. As a queer person, I also realized that there was little autonomy and self-determination of the subjects that were portrayed in the work. They were only looked at for how their bodies could display ideals for their society’s constructed ideas of gender and beauty at the time. I wanted to push back and begin dismantling this. While the plaster cast was an object unto itself, it was also taken from me, and I had control over how I wanted to present and communicate my feelings of my body. As a whole the work is a culmination of questioning the art and ideals I was raised with and creating a space for myself to exist on my own terms within my body outside of myself.