The Rorschach of the body | Art Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Rorschach of the body

"When the Body Speaks": Marci Rubin's images inspired by female anatomy at Northwestern University


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Episiotomy by Marci Rubin
  • Episiotomy by Marci Rubin

Marci Rubin cuts open a piece of fruit, applies ink to the exposed flesh, presses it to paper, and creates an image of another cellular being, another body. Made with the assistance of a tomato, Uterus looks like a Rorschach version of the real thing—orangish, with fallopian-tube-like streaks branching off from either side of the core. There are seeds stuck to the paper; a concentration of them at what would be the cervix. Rubin also works with apples, kiwis, and oranges.

The 26 pieces in this new show, "When the Body Speaks," are inspired by "being a body," Rubin says. Her sculptures are as anatomical as her prints. Pudenda, made of recycled women's clothing, comprises swooping, soft, brown and tan fabrics. Episiotomy (i.e., a surgical incision made to widen the vaginal opening during childbirth) features dramatic reds and pinks and a ragged scrap of cloth hanging from the bottom. Those pieces are mounted on walls, but an installation called Adipose Field after adipose tissue, or body fat, is a riot of pink little balls of nylon stuffed with cotton batting and clustered together on the floor like so many bald tribbles. The human form, says Rubin, can be "beautiful and grotesque at the same time."

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