Peninsula is pleased to present "Rapture in the Fold," a solo exhibition showcasing multimedia artist Amy Butowicz’s latest works on paper. Her current series of sumi ink, graphite, watercolor, and gouache drawings are heavily influenced by texts on feminism and phenomenology, particularly those by feminist theorist Elizabeth Grosz and philosophers Gilles Deleuze, Julia Kristeva, and Benedict de Spinoza. Their writings take on concepts of unity; human skin is understood as an enveloping, protective surface, but without boundaries, it also acts as a conduit of sensation and a connective loop between the body’s physical and mental interiors and the elements of the outside world. Through Spinoza’s concept of monism, there is only one infinite substance that all life and nature are part of. One can think of the properties of a flame, “the permanence of the flame is a permanence, not of substance but of the process in which at each moment the ‘body’ with its ‘structure’ of inner and outer layers is reconstituted of materials different from the previous and following ones so the living organism exists as a constant exchange of its own constituents and has its permanence and identity in the continuity of this process.” (Philosophy of the Body: Rejections of Cartesian Dualism)
Butowicz expresses these ideas by depicting interfacing masses of human and equine forms, meshed together into fleshy Möbius strips. Fingers, feet, hands, limbs, and hooves are coiled and splayed across the plane of the paper, folding, and melding into each other. Interiors bleed into exteriors, boundaries are established only to dissolve. For Butowicz, horses symbolize a unity of mind, body, and nature. Horses act as a mirror, sensing emotional states and feeling shifts in their handler’s body before their human counterpart is able to recognize them. Through the equine and human relationship, an experiential understanding of unity is tangible.
The artist also embodies these ideas within her process of making this new series of drawings. Her use of color seamlessly alternates between solid, opaque geometric bands and thin, diffuse blotches that permeate and defy physical limits, amplifying the artworks' unorientable quality. What is inside simultaneously is outside, the line between figure and terra firma is blurred. Touch, sensation, and skin contact are portrayed as liberatory, breaking down the confines of dualism. To Butowicz, paper itself is a flesh-like surface. The act of mark-making on paper is an instantaneous expression of her body’s movement and physicality. Butowicz works on the floor, crawling, leaning on, and pressing her body against the paper as she creates, all of which becomes visually tangible in the final artworks. She looks toward a quote by Kristeva while drawing: “No distance between the thought and the hand: their instantaneous unity grasps and redraws the most concentrated interiority into visible bodies.” Each drawing becomes an encapsulation of a present moment, an ephemeral touch perfectly preserved. In Butowicz’s words, her drawings “create a fissure or a glitch between two possible worlds.”
Amy Butowicz was born and raised in Akron Ohio and currently lives and works in New York. She received a BA in Studio Art from the University of Colorado at Boulder and her MFA from Hunter College in New York City. Butowicz has been awarded fellowships and scholarships to attend Lighthouse Works, DNA Residency, Salem Art Works, Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Summer Studio Program, Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and Anderson Ranch Arts Center. She is a 2019 and 2022 nominee for the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist in New York Grant. Her work has been published in Art Maze Magazine and is held in private collections. Her recent solo exhibitions include Pantomime at The Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, Colorado, Inhabit at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, A Room to Hoist at Hunter College, New York City, New York, Hiding in Plain Sight at Underdonk, Brooklyn, New York, and Boudoir Theatre at Peninsula Art Space in Brooklyn, New York.
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