The Caretaker (Elizabeth), 2019

Soft sculpture with ropes, twine, cinder block, and rocking chair

Dimensions: Roughly 8' x 8' x 8'

Images courtesy of the artist

Jessica Caldas

High Springs, Florida

In my work, I am most interested in telling complicated stories about people and communities that connect to larger social justice issues. In general, my work handles experiences that are masked by silence, difficult to approach for many, and where misunderstanding is perpetuated endlessly through stigma. These experiences range from women’s issues to gender-based violence, mental health, and more. This work considers the dynamics of public versus private space, both physically and mentally. I seek to make these experiences accessible, while still honest, and without sensationalism. I strive for conversation and confrontation within the space of my work. Together, these qualities create room for empathy, action, and change.

Drawing on personal narratives, collected stories, literature, and social movements, my work incorporates drawing, collage, sculpture, installation, performance, and more. I have found that I am most successful with mixed media, immersive, installations, where various mediums work in layers to create a bodily experience mirroring the complexities of the stories I seek to share.

Tired Bodies are large, exaggerated, and distorted figurative soft sculptures that reflect on the expectations placed on bodies, both physically and mentally, in society. Tired Bodies are at once humorous and sad. Their too long arms and legs are hard to distinguish from their breasts and their soft and sagging body can hold nothing upright or in place. Like her sisters she is clearly exhausted, worn down from the labor expected of her yet defiant of all the gendered ideals society might place upon her.

Each tired body soft sculpture is made from used sheets and other household linens. They possess a fleshy familiarity that is intimate and a little uncomfortable. Certainly, the Tired Bodies mean to cue the female figure and concerns primarily relevant to women, but within their figure is some ambiguity as well. Because their limbs, bodies, and breasts are exaggerated, they also defy a necessarily female object hood and can embody a more general experience of labor and fatigue as well.