Visual Description for "Lane Line as Spine"
An approximately 6 feet long section of a swimming lane line. Red, white, and blue plastic rings around a wire make up the line. The lane line is positioned in a curved formation.
Visual Description for "Soluble Spines"
A series of 9 water-colored spines. Each spine is a mixture of blue and yellow hues. They are centered in the middle of the canvas and extend the length of the canvas. The ribs extend to the width of the canvas on each side. The canvases are 8 inches by 10 inches. There are 9 canvases.
Visual Description for "Spine: Rematerialized"
A hand-made book titled “Spine: Rematerialized”. The book is approximately 3 feet long. There are two accordion-style booklets on either end of the whole book, and the middle part of the book is a long piece of blue paper with a white paper cut out of a spine laid on top of it. Each booklet opens as an accordion and the pages of the book contain text, hand drawn and water-colored images of lane lines, spines, and bitter gourd.
Stephanie Choi is a poet whose work appears or is forthcoming in Bellevue Literary Review, The Cortland Review, Electric Literature, Poetry Northwest and elsewhere. She is pursuing her Masters in Fine Arts at the University of Utah.
Artist Statement: "What are the ways the word spine resonates? In sound, in sense. My pieces interrogate my relationship to the word and, hopefully, explore the many entangled and often conflicting emotions and ideas I have around the word. I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was twelve years old and for two years, I wore a back brace. As I write in my essay “Spine: Rematerialized”, I had to wear brace every hour of the day (except when taking a shower or when I was in the pool, since I was a competitive swimmer); otherwise, I used the bathroom and slept in it. The goal was to stop my spine from curving while I was still growing. The doctor decided I didn’t have to wear the brace anymore when I was 14, the typical age of puberty, and I go for check-ups for a couple years to make sure I wasn’t still growing until I was safely out of the threshold for growth. I haven’t had my spine measured in over a decade, and yet I feel like it’s curved more when I curve my arm around back and run my fingers along it. I’m interested in the temporality of disability and how chronic, invisible pain manifests. This might be a kind of mirroring for my interest in how the word (sound and idea) of spine manifests across other aspects of my life—the lane line, the book, bitter gourd. The lane line brings in our theme of water; the book and text—weaving; the bitter gourd and relationship with my grandmother—kinship.
I’m also very interested in visual art in general. As a literary artist, making the visual elements of this piece were a stretch exercise for me and my visual art “ability”. I’m trying to question the ways in which my own notion of “art” has been colonized and made “straight” in a sense. The cuts of the book, the lines of the watercolor are not clean, not straight—partially because I’m not “skilled”, but also serve as a meta commentary on the practice of making art and stepping out of certain preconceived notions—straight lines, boxes—and comfort zones.
What are the ideas of straightness, of normalness, of ability that pervade through thinking about the body and the spine, specifically…about art? My work does not provide answers to any questions but tries to think about what the answers might entail through entanglement.
I invite the reader and viewer to participate in my work—to spray the canvases, to play with the book, to touch and move the lane line. As Petra Kuppers writes in “Writing the Salamander”, “Water rushes in and makes experiential the space between us. Water rushes in and cuts off the air that so invisibly sustains you and me. Water rushes in, gravities shift, and eddies stroke my limbs. I am intrigued by the way we can align biologic and linguistic influences, narrative lines, and sentence structures.”
It’s an honor to embody an ecology with you."