Stamps alum Georgia b. Smith’s (MFA ‘23) video of her multidimensional work Cavernous Bodies is showing at the New Media Gallery at the Flint Institute of Arts (FIA), the second-largest art museum in the State of Michigan. Smith was invited to show her work by another Stamps alum, Emily Legleitner (BFA ‘19), the Curatorial Assistant at the FIA.
Smith developed Cavernous Bodies as part of her thesis while in the Master of Fine Arts Program at the Stamps School. A choreographer and sculptor, Smith says that those two disciplines are at the nexus of her creative practice. In this installation, she focused on infusing inanimate objects with life as a way to approach the relationship between humans and the static environment surrounding them.
“I created sculptures that function as prosthetics worn by performers, and these sculptures often change how the body moves through space,” said Smith. “This movement limitation stems from the core concept of the artwork and becomes the basis of the movement vocabulary adopted in my choreography. I became interested in creating sculptures that I could choreograph that capture the emotive power of performance.”
Smith worked with Talia Moore and Karthik Urs from the Robotics Department at the College of Engineering to create a series of wearables that could “breathe” with the performers. These forms are known as soft robotics.
“Soft robotics is a field that often mimics life forms, such as anthropods, that move without using a skeletal structure,” said Smith. “They are actuated by the movement of fluids such as air or electrically charged liquids instead of motors and gears. These fluids are contained by impermeable membranes such as fabrics, plastics, or elastic silicone and rubbers. For Cavernous Bodies, I used an elastic silicone that is soft, fleshy, and translucent when inflated. I aimed to create a sculpture that could mimic breath, which could affect the viewer’s embodied experience.”
Smith hopes Cavernous Bodies “…helps to collapse the sense of privileged separateness between beings and things and the human species vs. the other species we coexist with.”
Cavernous Bodies is at the FIA from January 2 through February 29, 2024.