This kinetic sculpture consists of a plaster and foam human midsection and is cast from my body, from waist to upper leg. An articulating wooden tail protrudes from the buttocks. A 12-volt electrical motor is secured to the “body” and powers the tail that rotates in a circular motion. The tail becomes rigid and then flaccid with each rotation.

Miranda is inspired by the fictional novel Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, which tells the story of the Binewski family whose travelling circus, the “Carnival Fabulon,” stays in business with the help of their deformed, “freak” children who were physically mutated by the chemicals and radioisotopes ingested by their mother during pregnancy. The Carnival Fabulon is a place where norms are abhorred and outsiders are regarded with suspicion. One night, Oly, (a hunchbacked albino dwarf) discovers her daughter Miranda onstage at a strip club, exposing her small tail.

The tail in Miranda is an example of excess: a characteristic of the grotesque. Physiological anomalies, described in medical literature as malformations, deformations, anatomical curiosities, or “cosmetic stigma,” expose ideas about non-normative bodies and show how language, history, social context, and other factors determine whether an attribute will be valued or viewed as a congenital defect.

Exhibited here at the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Fine Arts Annual Exhibition at the Penny Building. I was in the first year of my MFA.

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