"I don't want to hurt you." "Yes, but you have to clean me."
How does touch change us?
This site-specific drawing is a portion of recalled conversation between my mother and grandmother.
As my grandmother aged and her health gradually deteriorated, my mother and I would help her dress, change her clothes, bathe herself and wash her hair.
My grandmother was very particular about how she wanted to things cleaned. On more than one occasion, my mother would try to wash my grandmother’s hair, gently massaging the shampoo onto her scalp. This was unsettling to my grandmother: “You’re not going to break me! Scrub harder! Use your nails!”
My grandmother would only be satisfied after her scalp was scrubbed raw and rinsed red with hot water. Remembering this, my mother shakes her head. “Older Italian women sure do like to abuse their bodies.”
The power to transform, heal, and harm through touch exists in the intimacy of daily life and has become paramount throughout the pandemic. People continue to struggle to maintain relationships, express love, and find alternative ways of performing care publicly and privately.
This drawing was created on the front facing window of Whippersnapper Gallery. As a material, glass reveals and conceals rituals of touch: every trace is hyper-visible but can be wiped away in a single gesture.Our sense of touch teaches us about the world as we move through it, generating knowledge and trust—it is an intuitive form of learning. Furthermore, touch activates memory. This sense is considered irrational, primitive, and invalid in colonial and post-Enlightenment systems of knowledge; however, physical touch greatly impacts our interior and exterior worlds. In my work, I seek to use touch as a tool for learning and as an agent of reciprocal change, care, and remembrance.