Interdisciplinary artist Selva Aparicio works across installation, sculpture and performance, creating artwork that functions as a research practice of memory, death, intimacy and mourning. Selva Aparicio was born and raised in the woods of Barcelona, Spain; she received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from Yale University in Sculpture. Her work has been exhibited internationally in solo and group exhibitions; she was recently named the recipient of the JUNCTURE Fellowship in Art and International Human Rights and the Blair Dickinson Memorial Prize. Recent venues where her work has been displayed in group and solo exhibitions are as follows: the Yale Center for British Art, Crush Curatorial in New York, the Museum Can Mario in Catalunya, the Kyoto International Craft Center in Kyoto, Japan, Field Projects Gallery in NYC, Sullivan Galleries in Chicago, DeVos Convention Center in Grand Rapids, MI, Centre do Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona in Barcelona and Museu Molí Paperer de Capellades, Spain. She has also partaken in residencies with Andrea Zittel in Joshua Tree, CA, at the Chipstone Foundation in Wisconsin, a stone studio with Oliver Hardwood in Vancouver, Canada and Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia stone studio in Barcelona, Spain.
I have always been interested in themes around death, transitioning, fragility and the passage of time. As an artist I’ve focused on unconventional materials and the beauty of the overlooked or discarded, including human bodies. Medical sciences have always been embedded into my practice but having access to the Museum’s collection would inform my work in a profound way by providing a historical context beyond my own personal experiences. My work is also created in response to my environment and I fully expect that as I interact with the materials, objects and space, it will bring a new depth to my work.
I’m particularly interested in the ethical issues around managing human bodies in the medical field, burial practices, surgical procedures (and their inception) and how diseases affect bodies. I am concerned with how I can repurpose discarded bodies (whether they are human, animal, or even plants) in a way that demonstrates reverence for both life and death. These topics are taboo, it’s a challenge for artists to work in the boundaries of art and science to find opportunities that allow them to expand their research.Selva Aparicio, Residency Statement of Intent
I am inspired by the transitory nature of life, loss and intimacy. My art reflects the fragility of life and the hidden beauty that can be found in the details of the natural world, and the understanding that beauty can mask terrible things. I quietly observe and manipulate objects both living and dead, collecting and documenting their evolution. I strive to draw attention to nature’s discarded husks and give meaning to the ignored, such as insect wings, dead birds, oyster shells, or human skin and hair, which I collect and commemorate through my artwork. For instance, for the past years, I have been working with human donors in a morgue, anonymous by name but not featureless or without personality. I have made multiple pieces from my observations. One work that cloaks death. I crafted a barrier of oyster shells, hard, scaly, permanent, rotting – which I covered a body in the morgue with. This piece remains untitled. I bore witness to this body that had now been rendered insignificant in death, and to recreate this more cosmic insignificance I wore the barrier publicly, in an open, unimportant corridor, navigating the viewer uncomfortably close to my anonymous form.
I believe that by looking closer not just with one’s eyes, but with mind, soul and body, a glimpse of the divine is unveiled. My work involves constant investigation with different materials. I treat my materials with respect and attentive care transforming the process into a ritual. Through several studies I explore their concealed, unexpected qualities, and let them reveal and manifest themselves. The scale of the work leads to an intimate sensorial experience. I understand my work as an intermediate that filters conversation allowing the viewers to bring their own experiences.
Read more about the artist at http://www.selvaaparicio.com/
About the Residency Program: As artistic practice occupies an increasingly pluralistic field, The International Museum of Surgical Science believes that artists are uniquely equipped to extrapolate on Museum collections in innovative ways and introduce novel perspectives to the institutional depiction of medical history. The IMSS Artist Residency Program provides working artists with:
- Access to the Museum’s extensive collections and archive
- Visibility on the Museum’s website and social media channels
- A month-long capstone Solo Exhibition (or equivalent presentation) at the Museum
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.