Body is a Bridge, Visual Arts Center, Austin, TX, Nov 3 2017-December 9, 2017, two person show with Amber Shields.
Body is a Bridge details the lived experiences of illness through an intersectional lens.
Images of Amber Shields’s grandmother, Johanne, span 15 years, marking examples of her strength and defiance from the expected norms of the traditional female. Images unravel the “American dream” through depicting visits to relatives’ grave sites, stints in nursing homes for broken bones, breast cancer, and physical and mental battles with mortality.
Images of riel Sturchio’s twin sister, Bianca, span 6 years, showcasing shared moments, challenges with cerebral palsy, and bodily trauma alongside dangerous coping mechanisms, illness, and disease.
Though vastly different in their presentations, the two narratives share similar implications. Bianca’s narrative is that of a twenty-something-year-old who faces the daily reality of her body being an object of scrutiny for the public eye due to the visibility of her cerebral palsy and scoliosis. Beyond the physical manifestation of her visible non-normative body, she holds no obvious appearance of sickness or ill health. Images of Johanne show signs of frailty, age, and holds an outward appearance of sickness and age. The social response to these bodies is different.
Each circumstance comes with its own set of social and physical barriers that are a direct result of these individuals experiences with disability and illness. Together, images touch on themes of identity, gender politics, battles with disease, and dangerous coping mechanisms. Both bodies of work span from the daily routines of vibrant, self-sufficient individuals, to difficult realities within the challenges of both visible and invisible ailments and offer a generous, affectionate, and authentic appreciation for access into these worlds.