(Anything But) Human

Jessie Gott

November 28 – December 9, 2022

Closing Reception: December 9, 2022 @ 6PM

My art distorts the figure in idiosyncratic ways that reflect my psyche and my experiences to evoke a feeling of anomie and question the familiarity of the body. (Anything But) Human is a whimsical and dystopian archive that breaks the mold of classical figure painting to discover new ways of seeing the figure, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. I explore topics of queerness, gender, body dysmorphia, and anomie, or societal normlessness, to introduce new modes of discussion about identity.

In distorting the expected anatomy of the figure as well as their features, I create a level of anonymity in them, leaving space for the viewer to assign an identity to a figure, without that identity having to be fully described visually. People are often quick to define visual information, placing pre-existing bias or meaning onto an abstracted form. I challenge this nature in my work, by warping familiar features of human anatomy, at times excluding certain features altogether. This creates an uncanny presence of otherness in the work, both visually and conceptually. This otherness is a metaphor for queerness as well as a deviation from the gender binary. I have chosen to separate the figures from a binary gender or sex in presenting them in an intentionally androgenous way. Without these specific labels, they have the space to exist freely in their environments, without conforming to the predominantly cisgender heterosexual society in which we live.

I use otherness to illustrate body dysmorphia in my art as well. As someone who constantly deals with feeling uncomfortable in their own skin, I use this to show the fluidity of the body. The same body may look extremely different depending on how it is presented, and who is looking at it. The figures in my work serve as reflections of different emotions that one may feel towards their own body at different times. Some figures feel as though they are attempting to cover themselves, so as not to be seen by the viewer, while others stare back at the viewer, almost as if challenge them. Together, the work is a culmination of these different views of the self, letting the viewer attach their own interpretations to them.

(Anything But) Human is a collection of work that speaks to the complexity of personhood and identity through the language of fantasy and distortion. Each figure presented in the exhibition serves as an individual, while giving context to the world that is built by the body of work. Through the exploration of anomie, gender, queerness, and body dysmorphia, I explore my own psyche, while also searching for ways to expand conversations surrounding expectations of the body.