Curated by Maxwell Fertik and Chase Buckley
un/comforts centers around the privacy and intimacy of domestic space and the instinct to withdraw when faced with uncertainty. For many, the home is an identity, something wholly personal and curated to fit one’s needs and comforts. For many others, especially those underrepresented in America, the home can act as a material symbol of inequality and a constant reminder of class. Home can be as broad as a country or as specific as a bed; and can evoke feelings both of dread and of ecstasy. Exploring both the physical and less tangible qualities that constitute a home, un/comforts calls into question what everyday life looks like under lockdown and how 9 individuals learned to self-actualize within it.
un/comforts is the deeply personal realization that we must prepare for an absurd future rather than a hopeful one. These pieces assert their autonomy as objects while remaining embedded in the environment around them. And this environment, the home is the place where we are most ourselves, the frame of humanity, the stage for personal dramas and a venue for profound pain and pleasure. Isolated within its walls, we are forced to grapple with our bodies, our thoughts and our most destructive patterns once again pulled to the surface.
Through figures, weavings and form, un/comforts presents a non-linear exploration of the familiar space. Existing beyond the habitual structure, “home” can be as physical as an object or as abstract as a memory. Who are we when we’re alone? Where do we return to? How do we interpret our pain, pleasure, loneliness, fears, heartbreak, growth and evolution? With work created over the past year and in the past months of isolation, un/comforts looks to understand both the sustaining and distressing nature of “home” and the intimacy and privacy it preserves.
REBECCA CLAIRE FORD
The Calenda Lamp is inspired by Mary and Giovonne Calenda: two very important people in my life who embody home to me due their teachings that helped shape who I am as an artist and individual. They themselves, as well as their uniquely vibrant home are a constant inspiration to me and with this work I hoped to capture their spirit. The form is inspired by their textiles-based artistic practice, while the color and texture are meant to emote their warmth and integrity.
Throughout quarantine, this piece has been a meditative process which grew from thoughts on material waste, lack of access to studio supplies, and a personal need for structure, and transformed into a source of joy and a physical manifestation of my associations between play and nature. Using fabric I have salvaged from a local upholstery company’s remnants over the years, I have been hand sewing this silly cartoon-like grass mat in the setting of my childhood home. It felt like a very apt moment to be making a piece that brings the outside into the home due to the current state of the world and where it may be headed, but also from a personal standpoint was a very nostalgic process. I am showing this in its current state, however this piece will continue to grow.
This mirror is an ode to one that lived at the bottom of the stairs in my childhood home. It is a physical translation of one that I saw myself in every day for years. It held reflections of me on the phone with my friends, first day of school inspections, photos before dances, my sister and I waiting for our parents to wake up on Christmas morning, as well as many moments I never thought to remember. With this piece I hoped to capture the essence of these memories.
I’m tense around you I’m tense when (you) are not around me I feel tension And the need to release Time elapses Time is spent I am spent, and time continues Is time linear, or do we experience linear time, And if many lines can draw a picture and a picture can transport us somewhere outside of ourselves, our reality, can just a few lines do the same? There is intimacy with a partner And there is intimacy with the universe When you’re sitting alone on a park bench and a bird lands just before your feet and you could swear it’s looking right at you and in fact, it is looking at you, and if you told the bird your name would it remember or would you only tell yourself it will? And if someone collects the seeds from the bellies of birds that flew into clean windows and died, and then planted those seeds in the ground to complete the process that the bird began, is that not a form of communion with the world in which we exist? Isn’t there a profound intimacy in the gesture of attempting to right a wrong? Isn’t there profound intimacy in telling you something that I did wrong? There are moments that feel as though I am staring into the eyes of universal history, And moments when I feel completely, and utterly alone I am trying very hard to reconcile the two. And I am trying to reconcile what is between us, What was between (us) There are weights that pull And weights that ground And waits that feel heavy in your eyes, in your back, and hips, and knees And sometimes it is best to just lie down Or give in Or to give up But I still hang on I find peace in the labor of building, of ordering the disorder, and tearing it down once it has been perfected The studs remain: Line, tension, repetition, intersection, weight, me, you.
After watching my body change during an emotionally strenuous time period and feeling uncomfortable with how I fit into all of my clothes, I decided to face my figure without them on. As an artist that works primarily with myself as the subject matter I have hinted at my own nudity before, but this is the first time I have taken it head on. This painting was a blunt way for me to document my body during a period it was changing physically and emotionally.
How will I come to age? What is my coming of age story? I’m terrified of looking back at my past. I’m actively trying to make that less terrifying. Am I already too old? I am almost 7 years older than Holden Caulfield. I feel qualified to write a memoir.
This painting was created as part of a project that explored our created space's relationship to identity. This piece directly deals with home during a transitional stage in life, when one’s lived space and possessions (although important) are also temporary.
Though this patchwork, pieced from cotton solids, nods to the American quilting tradition, its construction diverges from the repetitive logic of pieced blocks, and instead falls prey to the logic of the image. The geometric, symmetrical motifs are reminiscent of pictorial tiled floors, but are decisively influenced by digital imagery. The past few months have completely mutated the way I spend creative energy. It is impossible for me to continue my practice with the same unhindered methodology that I once lived by (only in part because my work/home structure has physically collapsed.) I increasingly find myself drawn to more impromptu modes of working, and over the past few months, I have only been capable of making things which are serviceable, whether that be to friends, family, or strangers.
This painting is an exploration to help me fully come to terms with my relationship with sleep in order to move past it and recover from insomnia. My fear of sleep stems from my lack of self confidence and fear of failure. Growing up in Asia, amongst the middle-upper class who praised higher education and elitism, I was ingrained with the mindset that I was not enough and that I needed to work towards the top. I eventually fed myself the fake belief that sleep was a waste of time and the longer I stayed up the harder I was working. When I close my eyes, all I hear are my thoughts telling me all the things I need to do and should be doing. My brain is like a gear as it never stops and my thoughts just keep rolling out. I get so furious with myself and that feeling of anger and helplessness haunts me throughout the night.
I want to explore the parts of myself that are seldom exposed to the public, the parts that are private and sacred and the parts that I strive to revise, condemn and unlearn. Since this period of lockdown began, I have changed the way I look at myself. Now I face myself head-on to evaluate my growth and autonomy. Before this year, I never spent so much time in my bedroom. Now it has become a sacred space for meditation and self-reflection. My piece combines antique sports equipment that adorned my bedroom walls since I was 3 years old and a self portrait. The portrait is slightly angled, tactile and encased in a coffin-like framing. It also uses a warm palette of pinks and yellows. It is the comfort of home and discomfort of reckoning with hard truths.
I do not want to be still. How can I stay turbulent, contrasted? The bed where I rest is the bed where my back begins to ache from stillness, immobility. I am falling, I am dying. In motion we change, in death we change.