Chicago artist, Caroline Evan’s artwork investigates the surfaces of skin, scarring and corporeal ruins. Her artistic process involves creating skins made from synthetic material, whereby she produces works that embody imperfection, deterioration, and reconstruction. By suturing, stuffing, and binding visceral materials, Caroline mimics the process and physicality of surgical techniques, challenging the viewer to confront their own perceptions of beauty in relation to their body. Through layers of acrylic gel medium, bundles of assorted fibers, translucent skins of latex and twisted cords of paper, the physical landscape of the human anatomy as well as the psychological nature of our relationship to our own form is explored.
In the following collaborative gallery, Author, Christina Lengyel, fuses scarring and dreamy prose excerpts from her newly published story collection, “What Might Have Been Lost,” with Caroline’s stunning and immensely textured artwork.
From Stockholm Syndrome:
But that was a lie. If the first man and woman came to be conscious—truly human—they must have eaten mushrooms they found in the ground, not apples in a tree. When they ate, they first appreciated the colors they saw and the warmth they each emitted. And when they ate, they must have felt the shape of their throats and tongues and realized they could speak, and so they made words. And they knew death. And then they used their throats and tongues and other parts for other things. He felt her hips and realized only those hips could birth heads big enough for words and stay standing on two feet, and so he made a new mind in them to carry the words after their deaths. And so lying in the grass with so many thoughts they never had before, they named the animals and all the things they wanted to talk about. There was only one thing they could not speak, one incredible purpose, one pressing feeling, and so they did not name it. And eventually they slept, and when they woke, they felt the way they had before they ate, but they did not think the same, for they had words forever and ever and the knowledge of that something, which would never be satisfactorily described and rarely wielded well but would persist deep inside their children through all the darkness to come, and as all persistent feelings do, it would irritate and infect and become prone to worms of trauma.
In the moment that she tasted, she was opening a box, a jar, herself and freeing everything but hope, which would persist in all her children.
In the moment he tasted, he was handed fire, and he learned to keep it burning always.
In the moment she opened, she wept an ocean that would never cease trying to cling to the moon.
In the moment he held fire, he learned to shelter it from water.
In the moment the moon came closest, the earth shook, and the ocean rose, and most of her children were swallowed, returned.
In the moment the water came, they were sheltered together and warmed by fire, and so they did persist.
I was the last person on Earth for a little while. A few days I think—I wasn’t keeping time by then. Someone else had been out there, and I knew the moment he or she died. There was this heavy loneliness for hours and hours before that day, but when it was really over, I felt it suddenly and deeply. It was like that moment when your eyes have to adjust from light to dark and you’re so irrationally scared of falling into some precipice that never existed in your hallway before. You move an inch at a time because you can only focus on what’s directly in front of you. Being the last one alive is like that, but it stays like that until you’ve finished. All of the things that the tendrils of my being touched—all the potential ideas I could have shared or learned—were gone. Pictures waiting to be painted were still and without life. Landscapes would only ever be land. Clay would never be pots. Pots would never be filled with water or food or flowers again except what the weather might throw at their gaping mouths…
Death looks like a house that’s crumbling. It starts with the tiles coming off the roof and making a mess of the lawn, and before you know it, it’s just a pile, and you can’t even find your keepsakes in the dust. It feels like it has been happening forever, like the least surprising thing, like the way you know your legs are going to be asleep when you stand up from kneeling too long. It smells like flowers, like too many flowers, like a florist or a funeral home or your trashcan after you’ve thrown away roses that recently wilted. Death tastes like cleaning products or nail polish remover, and the taste is in your throat, not even your mouth. You breathe it. Death sounds like a clock when it isn’t ticking, a drum that isn’t being played.