It grew out from a drip that pooled on the surface of the bathroom ceiling. Yellow-gold around it’s edges, with a white, bowed-out belly. A new cavity formed between the paper and gypsum. It reached out to the edge where ceiling meets wall and broke open. A ridged scar lives as a remnant of the rupture.
What would it feel like if this blister met my hand? Would it leak out when touched? Could it fill the hollow of my palms? A two-story liquid filling the crevices of my cup shaped skin.
I press tight, palm against palm to ensure no hairline cracks. Present both with fluid and body, I sway my laced fingers back and forth to understand how the liquid takes my shape. Letting hands give form to the formless, a momentary container.
There is a personal pressure to lend my body to these forms. To let them unravel my edges in exchange for holding their own. To live with them in real time and tend to their existence. Suturing to stabilize and knitting to scaffold. They continue to ask for my hand, as a house with full bellied ceilings and chewed up carpet once did.
Stepping down into the exhibition space, a visitor immediately encounters Erin Kearney’s installation: not quite a set of objects but a scene interrupted, the “remnants of a making process,” as she describes it. Tattered forms of rope and gypsum are strewn across the floor, a husk of rice paper resting in the corner. A jagged gash runs the length of the white gallery wall at eye-level. Stepping closer to Where the wall meets my hand (2021), a coarse rope appears embedded within the torn yet supple joint compound; the wall is not only destructed but revealed in the process. The effected transformation of the gallery space from presentational to architectural and infrastructural activates the surrounding “material moments.”
Leaning on a plinth, Bound by Bone (2021) appears a hulking mass, covered in polyps. Upon closer examination, the mass is not one, but many. Broken, drill-punctured boards of gypsum, bent and buckling under their own weight, are sutured and hung together through an intricate weave of cord with knots pulled through their holed bodies. As a structure held in suspension at the moment matter finds form, the work stages the physicality of the fibercraft central to Kearney’s practice. Binding and securing the gypsum boards, the woven cord brings its gendered associations of craft and care to bear on the structural and architectural (a woven blanket draped over the corner of a nearby exposed-concrete pillar base shares in this intimacy).
In Tethered Undoings (2021), the process of matter finding form is elaborated in multiple sites or “material moments” across the gallery floor. A contorted body, composed of woven cord and scattered chunks of gypsum, rests in a heap on the floor. From it a single strand threads into the base of a dilapidated holed gypsum board, bent on its side, already (or still) secured through the bottom few rows of weaves and knots. Stopped in an unfinished row—a scene in suspension—the thread holds the gesture of tending to.