Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sadie Wilcox (UM)

ICU Dialogue, 2008

My name is Sadie Wilcox. I’m originally from Western Massachusetts, and I joined the graduate program at the School of Art & Design in the fall of 2005.

Although I’ve always done art throughout my life, from my teenage years on, I was not an undergrad an art major; I was studying international relations, international politics. So I always thought of my creative practice as something I did outside of the rest of my life. I’d come home from work and I’d work on my creative practice at home. And it wasn’t until I was injured and in physical therapy, and I wasn’t able to work, that I began to shift into a more serious pursuit of my visual arts practice. So it was a kind of unexpected change. But I was eager to pursue it, and I spent several years, during the time in which I was in physical therapy, developing my portfolio and beginning to really work more seriously in the painting and drawing media. And so when I applied to U of M, it was all works on paper in my portfolio. In the first semester as a graduate student, I was also working on paper. And yet throughout all of the creative work all of my focus was on the movement of the body and the relationships of the physiological movement of the body. And so it seems appropriate to move toward video as a means of representing movement of the body and representations of physical mobility and adaptive mobility and non-traditional, or multiple forms of mobility.

For the past five or six years, my art practice has really been focused on the documentation of my recovery process from a severe third-degree burn injury. I had an art practice prior to my injury, but after being burned and spending multiple months in the hospital and several years of recovering through physical therapy and rehabilitation, I became increasingly fascinated and interested in the human body and the ways in which the human body functions, both on a physical level – burns effect all layers of the body, not only just the skin, but the muscle, the tendons, the circulatory system, at times even the bone structure. So there’s a really interesting physiological effect of burns that I’ve studied and explored through my art practice. And then of course there’s also the emotional and psychological healing process from trauma and from burn injury. In my case it was an incident of violence as well. So there’s a really interesting dialogue that begins to happen between the physical body and the emotional body.

And my creative practice has really been the means by which to explore these various systems. I started out primarily in painting and drawing, I was working in two-dimensional media, mostly on paper, and I was documenting the physical recovery process over the course of about two or three years. When I joined the MFA program at the University of Michigan, I had the opportunity to take advantage of the facilities here and the resources that are available to grad students. So I learned video editing and began delving into an exploration of the topic through video and through digital media. So it’s been a really exciting and enriching journey. And I’m looking forward to what new directions it takes me in.

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