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Wednesday February 9, 2022 - Saturday March 26, 2022

Redeemer University
777 Garner Road East Ancaster ON L9K 1J4
Art Gallery

Our bodies are central to who we are and to every experience that makes up our lives. In Genesis, God forms the first human from the earth – a kind of clay sculpture perhaps – and then breathes “ruach” – his living spirit – to enliven the bodily form. While Christians are prone to emphasize the spirit, our bodies are mysterious gifts that we should attend to.

This exhibition by Lindsey Rothrock, shown through a digital projector, offers the viewer powerful and intimate expressions of embodied experience. There are three separate “bodies of work” on display, each with its own conceptual core and key questions. Te Ubicas explores how memories of place, landscape or home become imprinted within our bodies. Femininity/Masculinity is a thought experiment that asks us to attend to our assumptions about gender roles and expectations. Rothrock’s newest body of work, Sexual Assault, examines how experiences of trauma continue to live not just in our memories but in the whole structure of our bodies. Complete artist statements for each are available below.

Te Ubicas

We are shaped by the places we move through.  Especially in childhood, the landscapes around us shape our expectations, our sense of identity, and how we move through our lives.  Each place on the planet is so particular – the quality of light, the rhythms of season, the smell of the earth or water, the density of human culture and enterprise.  

Rothrock notes that:

“We’re deeply shaped by the spaces we live in, and, when we die, we become a part of them – ‘dust to dust, ashes to ashes.’ I wrestle with the impact of place on bodies and how we relate to the landscapes we inhabit. How do we carry a place in our bodies? How are our bodies extensions of place, and place an extension of our bodies? What do unity and transience look like, and how does our movement from one place to another shape who we are?”

Femininity /Masculinity

In this series, bodies are projected onto bodies. Perhaps these projected or imposed bodies are like labels or expectations.  Sometimes we expect certain traits – of personality, ability, virtue or vice – to be found only in certain kinds of bodies.  People’s personalities can be formed (or bent) by where they fit but also through difference and contrast.

Rothrock reflects on some of the gendered norms she grew up with within her church culture. “Women were to be quiet, chaste, pure, not angry, not brash.  Leadership roles, at least in the church, were barred.  Women were encouraged to develop values deemed feminine – gentleness, nurturing, kindness, meekness.  Men fostered values like leadership, bravery and courage, toughness and being in charge – and labelled them masculine.”

Rigid constructions of gender harm both men and women. Christ’s example defies conventional gender typing.  He was a powerful leader who wept, cared for children and expressed sensitivity and intuition amid weakness His greatest triumph came through submitting silently before his accusers.

Rothrock’s photographs raise these issues in poetic form.  She invites us to track our gut responses to the images, Perhaps their specificity – the particular senses of body and projection – can help us re-examine our expectations, and extend liberty to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Sexual Assault

Rothrock’s newest body of work attends to the effects of sexual assault.  This series continues her exploration of embodiment and how our experiences are much more than memories held in the mind.  As Bessel van der Kolk observes, “Trauma is not just an event that took place…in the past. It’s also an imprint left…on mind, brain, and body.”

How do we work through traumatic experiences in our lives, and labour toward compassion and wholeness for ourselves and others?  Victims of sexual violence often struggle to find words as the complexity of their experience is held in the body, often protectively hidden from memory.  Perhaps art can play a helpful role here, providing image and metaphor where literal description fails.

In this series, grasping hands are projected onto a female body. The hands, in fact, are clawing into white fabric, perhaps a bedsheet. The creases and folds of the sheet then ripple across the contours of the woman, tugging and straining at her skin. The forceful hands disturb and distort the subject’s body and spirit. The subtlety of the fabric, melding seamlessly into the body’s own folds, demands close viewing and reflection. These works prompt the viewer to attend to the subtleties of her or his own bodily sensations.

Some of the works in this series foreground the pixelated nature of the projections. The pixels echo the pores on the skin’s surface. Perhaps the pixels point to other digital realms, such as pornography, that promote both disembodiment and sexual predation.

Rothrock’s work has been informed by Bessel van der Kolk’s book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma:

“Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies. The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe. In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.”

Art engages our minds, imaginations and also our bodies. This series offers an opportunity to listen to our own bodies, to be prayerfully open to the Spirit moving in us and to be increasingly responsive to the silenced pain that many around us carry.

The exhibition will be on display from February 9-March 26. Please note that due to COVID-19 restrictions, only Redeemer students, faculty and staff are permitted to attend the opening reception.